Islay Walks: Bholsa

Hidden away on Islay’s north coast is Bholsa. Only accessible on foot, or by boat, Bholsa is a long trek over very rough terrain, but definitely worth hiking too. Sturdy walking boots, a map and a compass, and all the necessary hiking essentials are a must. A backpack, first aid kit, snacks, food and water, along with waterproofs and fleeces as the weather can change suddenly and dramatically.

Bholsa boasts spectacular caves and cliffs. It in in a wild, remote and uninhabited part of the island. I did not get to join this year’s hike but for more of Persabus life and a fabulous overnight trek to Bholsa read on.


The ‘pineapple pop’ has been flowing freely

and abundantly as the farm upped a gear into full scale ‘party mode’ at the weekend. It’s been an incredibly sociable time as we gathered as many of the clan, extended clan, friends and families together for our annual  Summer Party festivities.

Tractor and horse box were reversed into the garden

and strategically placed at the end of the patio just in case sunshine gave way to rain. It wouldn’t be the first time the farmer’s horse box has been turned into a ‘kippering station’, as ‘rain fails to dampen spirits’ in this vicinity, with burgers and skewers sizzling away on the home-made barbeque. Such is the Happy Farmer’s passion for recycling, the BBQ stand is made from an old Singer sewing machine treadle, the top from a ‘calor gas’ bottle split into two halves, where the charcoal burns. The grill was once an old grated cover for a pit. The horse box often doubles up as a bar and all weather BBQ hut.

Even the animals joined in the spirit of the preparations

The kitten was seen scaling the tractor, clambering over the wing mirrors and up onto the roof of the cab to get a bird’s eye view of proceedings. Dogs were faithfully following the Happy Farmer’s every move, tripping him up and getting under his feet, as they seemed to know burgers would be making an appearance at some point if the horse box had yet again appeared in the garden. Horses were poised on the hill, looking down from their vantage point to see what the commotion was about. Even the sheep managed to have their annual ‘coiffeur’ just in time, getting a very necessary trim of their fleeces, courtesy of the sheep shearers who popped by the afternoon before the party.

The Happy Farmer was beside himself with the whole socialness of the unfolding events. Courtesy of his visiting cousin there have been more than one or two ‘after hours and into the wee small hours’ kind of evenings. When his cousin’s fishing pals decided to hop on the plane for a surprise visit at the end of the week the Happy Farmer really had to up his game of hospitality. It is a lovely time of year. The house is bustling and buzzing, and there is a real party atmosphere.

My brother and family had the best plan of action though. They arrived off the ferry, stopping only briefly at the farmhouse for a quick coffee and to leave some luggage, before

heading out to Bholsa on Islay’s north west coast

The caves and natural arches there are simply stunning. The landscape makes for tough walking but suddenly you are transported into a wilderness that opens onto part of Islay’s most beautiful coastline. With the tide right out, a beautiful sandy bay was exposed. They were able to swim in the waves in the sunshine, before exploring the beautiful arches, cliffs and waterfalls. They set up camp for a quiet night under the stars, complete with a seaside fire, made from driftwood, and a feast of steak and baked potatoes. The midges were kind to them, not descending until late into the evening when they were about to retire for the night anyway.

At the farm whilst they watched the sunset from Bholsa, we were sat in the farmhouse garden eating a hearty supper with the sheep shearers. Beer and food are very welcome after a day of clipping in the heat.

Saturday was spent dodging between the pottery and farmhouse as the final preparations were under way. Changeovers were happening. Washing was being pegged out. Relatives were arriving off the ferry. Burgers were being made, yes it really would be far too simple to buy the ‘ready’ ones, and skewers were threaded. The Bholsa team returned just in time as people started to arrive. The party really was a lovely one. A good gathering of young and old partied in the garden, moving indoors as dusk fell. The weather held. We had singing and dancing and good music, and in true style it ran from 4 ‘til 4, and the Happy Farmer even made his ‘papers’ on Sunday!

Until next time….