The Armin Grewe Homepage
Picture of the Bridgend Hotel on Islay, an old grey stone building Picture of a road with a footpath separated by a wall
Picture of a monument on a small hill (Campbell Monument near Bridgend, Islay)Picture of detail on a monument (Campbell Monument on Islay)For my last full day on Islay I had a number of places I wanted to visit, some for the first time, some as a return visit. I started my day in Bridgend, parking the car near the Bridgend Hotel to explore the area by foot. On my list were the Campbell Monument, Bridgend Woods and Islay House Square as well as Bridgend itself.

First I turned south to walk along the road to Bowmore, the best and quickest way to reach the Campbell Monument. Probably like many people I had seen it often on its prominent place on the small hill near Bridgend, but I had never visited it. From the road to Mulindry it's an easy walk over a field to reach it.

As the name indicates the monument is for John Francis Campbell (1821-1885), the last Shawfield Laird of Islay. One of his best known achievements is the recording and collection of Gaelic folk tales, something the inscription on the monument also describes. Campbell is buried in France, but his memory and the stories he recorded live on. I'm not entirely sure why the spot for the monument was chosen and if it any particular significance to him, but it is certainly a very nice spot. The view over Loch Indaal is very nice, taking in Bowmore to the south west and most of the Rinns of Islay with Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich in the distance. Bridgend is mostly hidden by the woods, only a few houses visible.

Picture of a panoramic view over a sea loch on the Isle of Islay
Picture of a sign for a woodland path in a wood I returned to Bridgend Square as I had come, then turning off on the path between the hotel and the River Sorn to reach the Bridgend Woods Path. It soon leads to a bridge over the River Sorn, giving nice views along the river. I wasn't the only one walking through the woods, passing a few other walkers on the way.

Bridgend Woods is a quite nice place, lush green with a variety of old trees. I can't remember the full history of it, but as far as I can remember it took a while to establish in the harsh sea climate. I think they had to create a buffer zone with trees more resistant against the salty sea before establishing the other parts with less resilient trees. There are a number of easy walks through the woods now on well maintained paths. Through the woods a pleasant walk leads to Islay House Square.

Picture of a river flowing through woodland Picture of a bridge over a river through woodland, some people approaching
Picture of small businesses in an old building, two people walking past Islay House Square started to come alive again a few years ago when Islay Estates decided to convert the redundant old farm buildings into premises for a number of small businesses and organisations. There a quite a few businesses established here now, some I wanted to visit:

One of the first to settle at Islay House Square was Elizabeth Sykes Batiks, where you can buy prints of her batiks and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. If you prefer a beer there's Islay Ales, where I stopped for my obligatory visit and order to pick up before I left. I also stopped at IslayQuilters, trying to meet someone I had exchanged e-mails with. She wasn't there, but someone gave me her phone number and after a quick call we arranged to meet later in the evening.

Picture of an old farm yard now converted to small businesses
Picture of a view over a walled garden Right next to Islay House Square is one of the latest projects on Islay, the Islay Community Garden. It used to be the kitchen garden for Islay House, but had completely overgrown after it was abandoned. It has now been cleared and is being reestablished to provide more fresh fruit and vegetables for Islay.

When I visited there was still quite a lot of work to be done, but it already looked very promising and the first products were being sold. It's good to see these things being revived, I hope this will turn out a great success.

By now it was almost lunchtime, through Bridgend Woods I returned to my car at Bridgend, taking a picture of Sornbank on the way. Little did I know that I was going to sit on the balcony overlooking the River Sorn in April 2007 during the Islay Walking Week. But for now it was on to Finlaggan.
View of a walled garden, old farm buildings in the background Picture of houses along a river
If you are interested in more information about Islay, Colonsay and Jura you might also be interested in my Isle of Islay, a visit to the beautiful island off the west coast of Scotland pages. There you will find many more pictures and further information about Islay, Jura and Colonsay.

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