Last year Nigel and Donald McKerrell retired from farming and their farms at Gartbreck and Ronnachmore – just to the southwest of Bowmore – came back in hand. This year Islay Estates have been working the ground, repairing the fences and thereby increasing the productivity of the land. Just over 9 hectares of barley have been sown which we hope will go to Bruichladdich Distillery for the production of uniquely Islay whisky. We are also working with Scottish Natural Heritage to trial feeding areas for White-Fronted Geese: this will involve a field sown with fodder beet, oats and swedes to establish the preferred crop for the migrants as they over-winter on Islay. We’ll also have some sheep coming to graze by the shore and – hopefully – establish a productive flock that will provide delicious lamb for Bridgend Hotel!
The photograph on the right shows an unimproved, rushy field on the left of the picture: the other field was like this too but it has been drained, topped and ploughed and will hopefully produce a lot of barley in the late summer.
There is a lovely walk along the shore from Bowmore to Gartbreck and then back along the road or return on the beach. It is quite a long way and is easier at low tide. You’ll see lots of wildlife and if everything goes to plan, there will be a distillery to visit when Gartbreck House is converted to Islay’s ninth!