• 4 mins

After years in the planning, the hotly anticipated 2.6km path connecting the villages of Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich was completed in 2021. The important route runs shoreside from Bruichladdich pier all the way to Port Charlotte village with access points, including a fully accessible ramp and gateway at the World War memorial at Port Ban.

The pathway was been a sizeable and lengthy project for the Rhinns undertaken with Islay Community Access Group (ICAG) and Argyll and Bute Council, and in partnership with Bruichladdich Distillery and The Botanist Foundation, alongside a number of match funding bodies.  by five distillers, independently of each other.

Iain Hepburn, local architect and engineer, describes how it all started, back in the Spring of 2016 “It was Allan Logan of Bruichladdich Distillery who originally commissioned me to design a shared use path from Bruichladdich to Port Charlotte.  Allan’s vision was to emulate the Three Distilleries Path in Port Ellen and provide safe access of both pedestrians and cyclists alongside the busy road between Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich. The distillery financed the design and planning application which allowed the project to go forward to the construction phase." It was then that the public bodies and funders stepped in and Bruichladdich Distillery's role become more one of providing meeting rooms and general support wherever it was needed.

Iain had himself worked on the Three Distilleries path, which connects Lagavulin, Ardbeg and Laphroaig in South Islay. And he was involved in the design and construction of Ardnahoe Distillery. So he brought not only expertise but also a network of local and trusted contractors to this project for the Rhinns. Using a local labour force where possible is a real positive for the island and something Iain says he is proud of. In addition to reducing the costs and emissions of bringing in contractors and machinery, it means work was able to continue despite logistical uncertainties.


Local celebrity contractor Gordon Currie and his team Allan, Stuart, Duncan and Elliot worked on the groundworks. The spur off the path down to Port Ban bay was constructed by Peter McDiarmid, former Bruichladdich employee and one of the landowners along the route. The spur down to the sheltered bay which is good for picnics and swimming was part-funded by The Botanist Foundation. The Foundation hope to support more along the pathway including benches and helping the route's wild flowers.

Fencing was completed by local Kenny Carter. The stonework repairs and amendments to existing walls along the way were carried out by Argyllshire drystone waller Pat Gillespie. Pat also rebuilt a large portion of wall and two pillars at the entrance to the Port Charlotte lighthouse, which joins up the path to the existing pavement in Port Charlotte.

The heavy construction of the bridges and boardwalks across what they call "the swamps" was carried out by "the Irish lads". Michael, Anthony, Paul and Kevin are from the midlands, west of Ireland but some have "been on the road since 1986". The team are used to Islay living having spent several years on various projects over here, including the Machrie golf hotel. “They’re the best around; I can rely on them to do the top job.” says Iain.

The steelwork they carefully pieced together was from West Lothian based Craig Engineering. Iain sent his CAD designs to them, which were then replicated in galvanised British steel. The parts were drilled and then galvanised to seal the edges. This production sequence is important to allow fewer problems down the line with erosion, something we are all aware of here, where we're exposed daily to the salty air of the Atlantic.


The path is topped with the very durable Colas topping. This material includes stoney clay in a special mix and sets ‘rock solid’. It's pretty specialist, so Gordon Currie’s men went back to school to learn how to use, mix and lay it. It had to be laid when the weather was bone dry, no easy feat in Islay's climate. Another advantage of using the local workforce is that they could make the most of any weather window.

Our Production Director, Allan Logan, says:

'We hope the path will be of huge benefit to locals and visitors alike, for many years to come. It will be nice to see both villages benefit from walkers and cyclists having a safe route, while being able to enjoy the views of Lochindaal on the way.'

With a large proportion of our employees living on the Port Charlotte end of the path, we will have a few more car-free commuters now the route is open. Although we might need to get a bigger bike rack in the courtyard!

All involved would like to give a huge thanks to the landowners along the route who kindly donated their land for free for the enjoyment of the people and visitors of Islay.