Samples from Islay

We take regular family holidays on the southernmost Hebridean island of Islay.

Islay's attractions famously include 7 working whisky distilleries (always worth a visit), numerous sandy beaches, some safe for swimming, with a good local swimming pool for those in need of practice, great walking, wildlife and birdwatching opportunities, excellent places for eating out, and wonderful local produce, locally woven tweed and locally produced crafts, very mild weather, and most of all the very welcoming islanders (Ilich*) themselves.

* The local newspaper is also called The Ileach: here is its website

Of course, I take advantage of the opportunity to sample the island's rivers and lochs....Here are pictures of some of the locations:

Algal samples: 2000  2002   2003  2004  2005  2006

Loch Allan is on the Dunlossit estate near Ballygrant, and is well-used for angling.
pH 8.0, conductivity 312µS in July 2006.

Ardnave Loch lies near the sea by the north coast of Islay: the geology is marine deposits and phyllite, in a fairly heavily grazed catchment.

In early July, 2002 the loch had a bloom of Anabaena  which was breaking down, releasing an opalescent turquoise pigment.


The loch in July 2003; another
Anabaena bloom.
pH on 22/7/03 was 7.1

In July 2005 there was a heavy bloom of metaphyton:
15/7/05 pH 9.1, conductivity 236µS.
Loch Ballygrant, July 2006.

pH 7.5, conductivity 203µS.

Loch Connailbhe, an upland loch previously sampled in 2000

22/7/03 pH was 6.2

July 2004 pH was 6.2

5/7/05 pH was 6.2, conductivity 173µS.

Loch Dhomnuill is one of several lochs which lie in a depression in the flat peatland area between Bowmore and Port Ellen. pH in July 2005 was 7.1,
conductivity 105 µS.

Loch Fada lies in high ground in the centre of the island, where limestone intrudes along part of the shoreline. pH on 26/7/03 was 7.7

Loch Gearach is the water supply source for the Rhinns of Islay.

Visited July 2006:
pH 6.6, conductivity 120µS.

Loch Glenastle (upper) is in rough grazing land on the Oa peninsula, and flows into lower Loch Glenastle, beyond. The geology of the catchment is dominated by phyllite.  
  Loch Glenastle (Lower) sampled July 2005.
pH 7.1, conductivity 110µS.
Loch Gorm is the largest area of freshwater on Islay. It lies in a peaty depression in phyllite rocks and is famously visited by thousands of migrant geese in winter.  

This sample was taken in 2003. The hollow gelatinous balls contained Euglena  - like cells.
pH on 25/7/03 was 7.3

Loch Kinnabus is in a limestone-dominated catchment on the Oa peninsula, in improved grazing land. Sampling was carried out in the shallow southwestern end near the outflow, where dense growths of Cladophora were evident
Lily loch near Ballygrant is clearly well-named.
Visited July 2006:
pH 7.1, conductivity 204µS.

Loch Ruime lies towards the north end of Islay behind a bank of marine gravels, a former beach, in an otherwise peat-dominated catchment.

This picture of the bank shows the deep deposits of peat overlying the sea-rounded gravels of a former (ice-age) beach.

Loch Uigedail lies in the eastern part of Islay and is the source of water for the Ardbeg distillery. Visited in 2003; its altitude is approx. 250m;
pH on 30/7/03 was 4.8

Some pictures of algae from these locations can be viewed here:
2000  2002   2003  2004  2005  2006

John Kinross