(From the Norse, ask-vík meaning… Ash Tree Bay)
The Sound of Islay is a narrow stretch of water, hemmed in by the beautiful islands of Islay and Jura. At port Askaig you look out towards the looming Paps of Jura, great peaks that dominate the skyline. The Sound is a great place to spot a swift and sleek porpoise, or slow and gliding basking shark, as the tide washes by.
Surrounding Port Askaig are some of the many distilleries that make Islay famous, but the raw beauty of the area make it much more than just a gateway to pass through on your way to a wee dram or two. Stop a while and take in the view, you might just spot something wondrous.
A bit about the site
Port Askaig is a busy ferry port and the ferry terminal building is perfectly placed to look over the Sound of Islay.
Wondrous creatures in the waters
Look out for
Life in the fast lane
Port Askaig overlooks the Sound of Islay - a narrow strip of water between islands. Tides and fast currents race down this channel, and harbour porpoises thrive in the streaming sea. Harbour porpoises are small but mighty, as they hunt with incredible accuracy, almost never missing their prey. Under 2 metres in length, the harbour porpoise can be tricky to spot; look for a rolling back and a triangular dorsal fin.
At the north tip of neighbouring Jura lies an infamous stretch of water – The Corryvrecken. This is the third largest standing whirlpool in the world and a great source of myth and legend. Storm Kelpies – fearsome sea horses - were said to live at the bottom of the whirlpool where poor enamoured maidens would meet their deaths, dragged down on the backs of the Kelpies. Another legend tells of the Calliach Mhor – the hag of winter. Each year she would wash her great plaid kilt in the Corryvrecken, stirring up storms that would last for days. Afterwards her plaid would be bleached white – the snow that covers the land in winter.