Loco ambassador Doug Paton reports on trip to Islay, Scotland

Van life paddleboarding Islay

The first island adventure of the year kicked off with a trip to Islay. I loaded up the new 8’11 (which hadn’t seen the water yet) my surfboard and my windsurf kit then drove from Glasgow to Kennacraig to catch the first ferry in the morning. The forecast looked big for the first few days. 9ft @ 15sec was the long distance outlook but closer to the time this ended up being 7ft @ 14 sec with some easterly wind which suits most of Islay’s west facing beach breaks.

Saturday was windier than expected and ended up with a touch of south in it so the waves were big and messy. I managed a paddle on my surfboard but wasn’t really getting anywhere, so called it a day. I didn’t bother going for a windsurf as it was gusty as hell off the hills and the direction was more or less straight offshore. So time to chill out with a Beer and a BBQ.


Sunday was great. Got up early to check the swell, which was still pumping at Machir. There was less wind and the direction had switched straight offshore, therefore the waves were a lot cleaner. There was an elusive hot yellow thing in the sky too – which is rarely seen in these parts – which made for a more pleasant experience. We had breakfast, climbed into the 5/3, boots, gloves, hoods etc… and went straight out.

My first day on decent waves this year started a bit slow as I got to grips with the slightly less stable 8’11. Last year I surfed the 9’5 but wanted to drop down a size this year to allow me to manoeuvre on the wave a bit easier. I had a bit of a battle getting through the mountains of white water… However, I eventually got out back and after a few aborted attempts caught a perfect left and rode it all the way to the beach. After that we decided to go check out the beach at Laggan to see what the waves were like there. We turned up to find cleaner waves which were just as big. With the offshore wind and a long beach it was kind of hard to judge how deep you were and I occasionally got nailed on the inside by a bigger set. I rode loads of waves and only stopped when the combination of the previous night’s beers, sunstroke and massive amount of dehydration made the headache too much to tolerate. We rounded off an amazing day with some beers and a BBQ and chatted with some Tynemouth locals who we met earlier that day.

We were on the island for another few days but with the swell dropping off at Laggan and the wind increasing it was time for a few days flat water windsurfing on the freestyle board at the top end of Loch Indaal.

We returned to the ferry on Tuesday night and after a long coffee fuelled torturous drive, we arrived home at midnight…