Killinallan Point is one of the finest beaches on Islay to visit. This beautiful beach can be found on the Eastern shore of Loch Gruinart, directly opposite Ardnave Point and Kilnave Chapel. Due to the shallow waters and the sandy bottom the colours of the water can be amazing, everything from very light blue, darker blue, turquoise and everything in between. Often at low tide there’s a seal colony in the middle of the Loch on a sandbank. To get to this beach follow the main road from Bridgend towards Bruichladdich and take a right after the hill towards the RSPB reserve.
Easy Does It
The only problem with this beach is that it’s somewhat of a thing to get to. Islay’s roads are not the best unfortunately. And where the road up to Ardnave Point is ok(ish), the road to the parking space where the walk to Killinallan Point begins is one of the worst on Islay I’m afraid. That being said, it’s great until you reach the gate at Craigens, after that the fun starts. You either need a sturdy four-wheel drive or gently drive the 3 miles and a bit in a slow pace in order not to wreck your car.
The good thing is though that the gentle pace allows for the magnificent views to be taken in properly. This stretch of road is very scenic and is full of wildlife as well as farm animals. Spring and summer is a great time to watch all the waders on the sandbanks and the shoreline. From October to April watch out for the many Barnacle and White Fronted Geese in the fields opposite Craigens Farm, the Oyster Farm, and on the mudflats. It’s particularly great to walk or drive here early October when the Geese arrive in their thousands from Greenland on a northerly breeze.
Red Tin Roof Cottage
A famous “landmark” on this road is the “red tin roof cottage”. Everyone on Islay knows exactly which cottage I mean but the beautiful red tin roof of this derelict cottage was blown off in a storm some years ago. All that remains now are the walls. Mind you, this still is a lovely place to park your car and, weather permitting, have a nice picnic right on the shore of Loch Gruinart. And if fishing is your thing, in the summer it’s a great spot to catch sea trout.
From the remains of the red tin roof cottage it’s another mile or so until you reach a, usually closed, gate. This is part of Killinallan Farm, owned by Islay Estate. Before the gate is a wee parking space for a couple of cars. The road, now nothing more than a track, goes on for another couple of miles to Gortantaoid, a deserted farmhouse with some outbuildings. More about that later.
It was 1987 when the Archibalds decided to diversify their farm and grow oysters in Loch Gruinart. The conditions are perfect, the water is clear, warmed by the gulf stream, and the tides bring fresh food twice daily. Islay Osters can be visited. The opening times for oysters are Monday – Friday, 1pm – 4pm. they are closed Saturday and Sunday but out of hours appointments can be made by phoning 01496 850 256.
The Walk to Killinallan Point
Use the kissing gate to enter the track heading to Killinallan Farm. After 200 yards or so there’s a rock with an arrow pointing left towards the beach. Follow this grassy track until you reach another kissing gate near the beach. Here you can access the stony beach and head north along the shore to Killinallan Point. This is not a signposted walk, just find the best track over the dunes close to the shore to enter the sandy beach from where you can see your destination in the distance.
At low tide there’s plenty of space to walk wherever you like, at high tide you’ll have to stick to the dunes. Beware though, a couple of burns flow onto the beach. Proper footwear, or even wellies, are recommended. We always managed to just use our walking boots and arrive with dry feet. Along this wonderful walk take a moment to go onto the dunes, both at the beginning and later on, to enjoy the many flowering plants. Nearer the point the views from the dunes are stunning too.
The beauty of Killinallan Point and the shoreline is that every time you visit it, it’s different. The wind, the tides, the waves and the winter storms take chunks of sand and dune out and deposit it back again, or somewhere else, in quieter periods. It’s always changing, always different. And then there’s the light which is always changing too. This part of Islay is very stunning. And perhaps the best views of Killinallan Point are to be seen from the Ardnave Road on the other side of Loch Gruinart, on the hill near Kilnave chapel.
Heading East from Killinallan Point
You don’t have to walk back the way you came. If you’re in for a somewhat longer walk and don’t mind being completely alone, keep on heading east over the beach for a little over a mile. Almost at the end of the beach you end up at the Gortantaoid River. Before the river head right onto the dunes and navigate the fields until you reach a track. This is the same track as in the beginning, where you’ve parked your car. If you follow it for a wee bit to the left, you end up at Gortantaoid, the deserted farm buildings. Go right and walk two miles back to where you’ve parked your car, passing Killinallan Farm.
A wee word of warning… In the wintertime there are a few Geese Canons, they can cause very loud bangs and are placed there to scare the geese. Just so you know, we found out too late! And do keep an eye out on the hills as you can often see plenty of Red Deer.