If there’s one beach on Islay I have to call my favourite it must be Kilchoman Beach, although I have some other favourites too. I must have been at Kilchoman Beach around a hundred times and I can safely say that the conditions, the light, the sunsets, the waves and currents were different every visit. Different but beautiful, usually amazing and sometimes spectacular. And never disappointing, not even during a heavy shower which can add to the dramatic views!
If you look on a map it’s officially called Machir Bay, some call it Machrie and many locals refer to it as Kilchoman Beach. You can access the beach if you pass Kilchoman distillery and follow the single track road straight ahead to the end, keeping the row of white cottages, the coastguard cottages, on your left. The last few hundred metres can be a bit bumpy. There is space for a few cars and you usually have to share the beach with only a few folk, especially outside the tourist season. And if you’re lucky you’re all alone on this one mile or so stretch of sand.
The light changes during the day with the sun coming up behind the dunes and setting in the west over the Atlantic Ocean. The light also changes quite dramatically during the seasons. I personally enjoyed this beach the most during late summer to early spring, late afternoon before sunset, when the sun is relatively low in the sky. Other spectacular sightings were directly after a winter storm when big waves rolled in from the Atlantic while the spray was blown back to sea on an Easterly wind.
A famous feature on the beach is the shipwreck of the Patti on the shore opposite the entrance. It’s usually visible at low tide although sometimes it’s almost entirely covered in sand. Kilchoman Beach has more to offer. Head left all the way to the end and you’ll find a lovely but sometimes wet track going uphill passing Grannies Rock. The path continues up to the Crags and further on to the Radio Station from where you’ll have stunning views of the Bay.
Wildlife is not overwhelmingly present. You might spot an otter, or a seal in the surf, and or course there are often waders on the shoreline. The most interesting wildlife I’ve spotted were groups of Whooper Swans flying over the bay towards Northern Ireland, an occasional Eagle high over the Crags and small groups of Chough over the dunes.
I must have taken thousands of photos of Kilchoman Beach over the years. Below is a small selection of my favourites. Enjoy!