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Laid out as a planned village in 1821 by Walter Frederick Campbell, and named after his wife, PORT ELLEN is the chief port on Islay, with the island's largest fishing fleet, and main CalMac ferry terminal. The neat whitewashed terraces which overlook the town's bay of golden sand, are pretty enough, but the view is dominated by the village's modern maltings, whose powerful odours waft across the town.
The only reason to pause in this part of the island is to head off east along a dead-end road that passes three distilleries in as many miles. Another six miles down the track and you eventually come to the simple thirteenth-century Kildalton Chapel, which boasts a wonderful eighth-century Celtic ringed cross made from the local "bluestone".
For accommodation in Port Ellen itself, the best place is Caladh Sona (Tel:01496/302694, email@example.com; Price: 51-60), a detached house at 53 Frederick Crescent; alternatively, head a few miles up the road to Ardbeg and stay at the peaceful Tigh-na-Suil (Tel:01496/302483, firstname.lastname@example.org; Price: 41-50). For something really special, though, opt for the Glenegedale House Hotel (Tel:01496/300400, Web: www.glenegedalehouse.co.uk ; Price: 91-110), the whitewashed guesthouse opposite the airport, for superb home cooking and fantastic breakfasts. There's also a campsite, three miles northwest of Port Ellen, at the southern tip of Laggan Bay, at Kintra Farm B&B (Tel:01496/302051, Web: www.kintrafarm.co.uk ; April– Sept; Price: 51-60).