Ballygrant (Baile Grainne) is the longest established village on Islay, nearby place names suggest connections to Viking times.

Ballygrant means 'Town of Grain' and the water powered mill, now demolished, was turning oats into meal up until the early 20th century. Later the water wheel powered a saw mill until electricity took over in the late 1960s. Craigard stands in the centre of the village.

Walking - The quiet, almost traffic free Mulindry road, a single track road, is the starting point for several walks. You can choose from strolls around Ballygrant and Lossit Lochs to hikes across heathery hills, the home of golden eagle and red deer. Woodland walks are on your doorstep between Ballygrant and Port Askaig, especially attractive in spring with wild flowers, and autumn with changing leaf colour. Also around Bridgend there are well marked sheltered woodland walks.

With the help of the local bus service - there's a bus stop close to Craigard - you can be flexible about where and how far you want to walk, and the bus driver's 'craic' is a bonus. We provide full information in your accommodation on popular walks.

Cycling- Ballygrant is an excellent location for cycling in Islay. The road from Ballygrant to Bridgend via Mulindry is a good place for deer watching, and is a good round cycle trip. Suggested cycle routes and information on the local cycle club is provided in your accommodation. Bike hire Bowmore Post Office 01496 810 366. For repairs brian palmer: 01496 810653, brian also has a website with everything about cycling in Islay.

Fishing - The European Angling Championships were held In Islay in September 2003, confirming the island as a top class destination for brown trout anglers. Of the two lochs nearest to Ballygrant, angling journalist Bruce Sandison, says 'Loch Ballygrant is one of Islay's most attractive waters, and it is an easy and pleasant walk from the centre of the village' and 'Finlaggan trout ...are wild fish, are beautifully marked and they fight well.' To fish on these internationally rated lochs contact:
Dunlossit Estate for Ballygrant, Lossit, and the smaller Lochs Scannasdale (or Cadhan), Fada, Leathann, Bharradail and Allan. Phone 01496 810232
Islay Estates for Finlaggan, and Loch Gorm. Phone 01496 810293 (Head Keeper) or 01496 810212 (Estate Office).

Whisky - The island has eight working distilleries. Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain on the Sound of Islay are just three and seven miles from Ballygrant. You'll be rewarded with magnificent views to Mull, Colonsay and the mainland hills when you drive to the latter. Laphroaig, Lagavulin and Ardbeg are all east of Port Ellen - you can make a trip to Islay's south coast and have lunch at Ardbeg's very pleasant restaurant. Bowmore and Bruichladdich are on opposite shores of Lochindaal. Rockside Farm Distillery at Kilchoman also houses a visitor centre and cafˇ. Ballygrant had its own whisky distillery in years gone by, now Lossit Kennels, and it also had its share of illicit distillers. The most famous, Baldy a'Chladdaich, was deported to Australia when he became too successful. If you like walks on the wild side you can find his former dwelling on the Sound of Islay shore.

Island trips from Port Askaig, less than three miles from Ballygrant
A frequent seven day a week ferry service connects Islay with Jura, Spend a day on Jura. The ferry takes five minutes to cross from Port Askaig. It's here that George Orwell wrote 1984 in utter seclusion. On a Wednesday in the summer you can take a day trip to Colonsay on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry connection from Port Askaig. The ferry leaves Port Askaig in the morning and returns early evening. Timetable details on www.argyll-bute.gov.uk and www.calmac.co.uk

Popular with visitors, hire Roger Eaton's boat, Angie, for a trip around the island or up the Sound of Islay Tel 01496 850436 email: info@islaymarine.co.uk

History - Islay is rich in history and the Ballygrant area is especially interesting.

Finlaggan is a 10 min drive from Ballygrant. The Lords of the Isles - The lords ruled the western seaboard from their administration centre on the island of Eilean Mor on Finlaggan Loch from the 12th to 15th centuries. Gravestones and the ruins of the Lords' chapel have been preserved on the island by the Finlaggan Trust. The Finlaggan Centre is open from Easter to end October providing information on the Lords of the Isles. This romantic place is licensed for weddings. You can find out more on the Trust's web-site www.finlaggan.com

Mining - lead and silver were mined around Ballygrant, probably as early as Viking times and up to the latter part of the 19th century. Historical records show that between 1862 and 1880 the mines around Ballygrant produced 1,919 tons of lead ore and 18,4245 ounces of silver.

Family history - Looking for your roots? The Finlaggan Trust has computerised records in Finlaggan Cottage of all the information on Islay gravestones, and a search programme to help you connect your information with your Islay ancestors and the place where they lived. You can also visit the Islay Family History Society in Islay House Square, Bridgend. Islay Family History

Leisure Centre - Is there a Leisure Centre anywhere in Scotland which can rival the view from the community run Mactaggart Leisure Centre in Bowmore? You can watch the waves rolling in and study the seabirds as you get fit. The centre has special rates for visitors using its small but well equipped gym, and friendly staff to give you an induction session. The centre has a 25 metre swimming pool.

Things to See

Wildlife - Red deer beside the Mulindry road, roe in the woods and fields, hares and rabbits just about everywhere. Enjoy the walk from Ballygrant to the solitude of Baleachdrach on the Sound of Islay where you'll find seals on the rocks and otters if you are lucky. In early summer seabirds nest on the pebbly shore. If you don't fancy the walk you'll find seals in all the bays on the south coast, at Gruinart and Portnahaven and, frequently, dolphins in Lochindaal.

Birdlife. Islay has a huge variety of birds - skylarks fill the air with song in summer, buzzards are everywhere, you have a good chance of seeing a hen harrier hunting in the fields around Ballygrant, a merlin skimming over a stone dyke, or at dusk, a barn owl at Finlaggan. Shy treecreepers and bullfinches can be best seen when the woods are bare and the fields are populated by Greenland geese. Nearly 50,000 of them winter on the island. The most exciting bird experience must be seeing a golden eagle. The area to the south and east of Ballygrant is eagle territory, and it's well worth being on the alert for a sighting. The RSBP Reserve at Loch Gruinart has a Visitors' Centre in which you can operate video cameras by remote control from the first floor. It also has some high-power binoculars for your use so you can include your sightings in the register where over 250 species have been recorded. For more information contact the RSPB Reserve: 01496 850505

Wild flowers - Snowdrops appear in Bridgend woods, often as early as the first week in January, by March there will be primroses and violets in the woods by Ballygrant Loch, followed by swathes of bluebells (wild hyacinths), wood anemones and then, in high summer, banks of wild orchids. In late June flag irises are prolific in all the wet places and August brings the Scottish bluebell and the lovely Grass of Parnussus. The air is scented with wild thyme and bog myrtle and the heathery hills turn purple. For more information contact Islay Wildlife Centre: 01496 850288

Butterflies - The Marsh Frittillery, one of the UK's rarest butterflies, depends on the scabious plant which grows on limestone. Ballygrant is in a limestone area and the butterfly is known to breed nearby. It has a short flying season, between the end of May and end of June, however many of the more common butterflies can be seen throughout the summer.