MAKE IT AT THE MACHRIE
27th May 2018
Here’s a fine excuse to tour the brooding west coast of Scotland: a drive almost as rewarding as a hole-in-one on the historic links of the newly refurbished The Machrie on Islay. Given the Isle’s fame for whisky, why not tour a distillery or eight, too?
1. From Glasgow, our route to Islay gives a great mix of lochs and hills en route to Kintyre and the islands of the west coast.
2. Travelling north from Glasgow on the A82, you enter the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park at Balloch and soon see Ben Lomond looming over the east shore.
3. Turn off on to the A83 at Tarbet, where a short climb takes you down to Arrochar at the head of Loch Long – the first of the sea lochs.
4. From the pine forests of Lochgilphead, head south to the ferry at Kennacraig for the 2.5-hour trip over to Islay.
5. Top-flight golf awaits at The Machrie, yes, but also eight whisky distilleries – all of which run tours. Ardbeg on the south coast is a must.
Set into Islay’s magnificent dunes (there’s good reason for the Isle’s ‘Queen of the Hebrides’ monniker), The Machrie Hotel & Golf Links enjoys an enviable location, nestled beside seven miles of pristine Inner Hebrides beach.
Re-opened in late summer 2018 after a complete renovation and expansion, The Machrie now boasts 47 beautifully designed suites and lodges, some with their own outdoor terraces and views across Laggan Bay. But it’s the dramatic and wild scenery that has served as the main draw for golfers since 1891. The course combines the very best of a historic links from a previous age, with a modern slant. The need for thought, imagination and creative shot-making has not changed throughout the years and carries as much of a premium over sheer power now, as it did back then.
Oh, just a reminder, where top-flight golf awaits, Islay is famously home to eight whisky distilleries, too – all of which run tours. Ardbeg is a must.
RANGE ROVER SPORT HST
The winding and rugged roads of the Scottish west coast demand a maturer SUV that can handle anything thrown at it, yet remain suitably poised for our route’s long distances. Launched at March’s Geneva Motor Show, the new Range Rover Sport HST is just the ticket: a new 400PS Ingenium petrol engine adds straight-six balance, with a chassis that gives dynamic on-road handling, luxurious refinement and Land Rover’s trademark all-terrain capability.
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The golden, sandy links of the northwest coast provide the dramatic setting for one of the UK’s top-five golf clubs – not to mention a sweeping, undulating A-road blast to get there, followed by a cruise through the spectacular Ribble Valley.