Mission Statement – About Wild and Magic Islay

“Wild and Magic Islay is an independent, Scotland based tour operator. Our aim is to offer guided, small group adventure tours for those who wish to discover the real Isle of Islay, Scotland, away from the traditional ‘package group’ bus tour idea.

On our tours you will stay in small, family-run hotels and guesthouses, eat in local restaurants and eat picnics made from local food. In addition, all guesthouses, hotels and produce suppliers are known to us personally and are considered friends rather than ‘business contacts’.

 The idea being that you will visit as guests rather than as tourists. Any person who is involved with Wild and Magic Islay is a friend of the company and myself Rachel MacNeill, and a local person living on Islay and Jura.

Our extensive knowledge of Islay enables us to offer original tour itineraries providing a balance between the region’s well-known ‘must-sees’ and off-the-beaten-track, wild and magic places. Wild and Magic Islay will provide a real insight into the island of Islay, and indeed Scotland, whilst you are visiting – allowing you to experience the culture, history, landscape and natural world and provides opportunity ‘to meet the locals’

Respect for the island and local people, our cultures, traditions, religions and environment are essential to our philosophy. We work hard to ensure our groups have a positive impact on the places and people visited. We hope that you will be treated as guests and behave as guests whilst travelling with Wild and Magic Islay.

General comment
Please note that all group sizes for our scheduled tours are between 1 and a maximum of 4 persons’, except for the Whisky Tours, which can take up to 12 people. Groups are accompanied at all times by a your host – namely myself, Rachel MacNeill or one of my friends. All transportation is organized by local operators and using local drivers. We feel that our ‘discreet’ group sizes lead to less impact both on the environment and the people that we visit as well as allowing for more supervision, advice and explanations  between the host and tour guests. We feel it allows  a more personal feel for the tours.

Contribution to Local Economies

Our tour hosts are local to Islay. All the guest houses, hotels and B&B’s that we use are run and owned by local people. Our tours visit locally run charities, which contribute to the island life and understanding of the ‘cycle of life’ We visit The Finlaggan Trust, Ancient Seat of the Lord of the Isles, The Museum of Islay Life,  The Round Church. RSPB Reserve, MacTaggart Leisure Centre, to name but a few.

 Local people benefit directly from the visits of guests on the Wild and Magic Islay tours and workshops. Local people benefit indirectly from visits to the distilleries as they provide jobs and bring visitors to the island thus stimulating the local economies.

An integral part of real understanding and enjoyment of a region or country is eating the local food. The majority of our tours are inclusive of 2 meals per day – the idea being that our hosts aim to provide a guided tour to the regional produce as well as the sites and landscapes. We ensure that as well as locally run larger restaurants; our guests are given the opportunity to enjoy the cuisine provided by locals in the form of the homemade picnics and produce provided for lunch. This ensures that a wide  range of people in the local food industry benefit from our custom.

Transport used is Wild and Magic Islay’s own vehicle. When it is more practical to charter vehicles we employ minibus and taxi, working directly with the local driver. Our small group size allows us to use small a small vehicle jeep where use of larger vehicles can create more unnecessary CO2

Financial Contributions

Wild and Magic Islay supports, amongst others, the local charities of The Finlaggan Trust, The Museum of Islay Life, The MacTaggart Leisure Centre by taking our guests to these places and paying the entrance fee as part of the tour cost. We also support The Round Church by making donations on behalf of our guests if we visit the church. We also donate and contribute to the variety of organisations, committees and charities on the island when we can and if we are asked for help or support. If there are ‘ceilidhs’ on in the summer we will encourage our guests to attend. Ceilidhs are local parties where there is Gaelic singing and dancing and they are always run to support a charity or local community group. These events are NEVER held to make personal profit, they are always held to support a good cause.

Printed matter
The production of most of our company literature including business cards, vouchers, envelopes, posters etc. is produced in Islay, using the printing office at the local newspaper ‘The Ileach’

Environmental Awareness
Full and comprehensive details of our products are available in electronic form on our website. We don’t have paper brochures for tours. Most of our business is organised online, therefore reducing paper usage. Office sundries: Wild and Magic Islay uses recycled and recyclable materials wherever possible. Biodegradable waste is composted in the company garden.

Packed lunches
Many of our activities require that we take food with us. The food is supplied in containers and boxes which previously held biscuits or shortbread and are reused after every picnic. We use old fashioned china cups which came from tea sets supplied by ReJig, the local recycling facility. Any waste paper or rubbish is brought home from the tour by the host and either put in the recycling bins or disposed of correctly according to Argyll and Bute Council guidelines on waste.
Drinking water; large flasks and bottles of tap water are taken on tour and if one wishes a drink the water is offered in a beaker which is later taken home by the host and washed for reuse the next time.

Damage to the Environment
During walks passengers are informed of the fragility of the ecosystem, and encouraged to think about their part in maintaining the equilibrium of the cycle of life on the island – and indeed, everywhere. They are advised to keep cigarette butts in their pockets or other container until an appropriate disposal facility is available. All regular transportation used is regularly tested including checking exhaust pollution levels.

Social Awareness of Culture and Language and Traditions
It is a practice on all tours to attempt to teach the fundamentals of the local language of Gaelic. We aim on our tours to make people aware of the rich oral heritage available to them through the language and culture of Gaelic.

What to wear in ISLAY to cope with weather.
 Examples of clothes that will minimize your risk from the elements are  given.

General wear
We suggest loose, lightweight clothing with many layers that you can put on or take off according to the weather. The weather in Islay is very changeable. It is advisable to have waterproof trousers and jacket. Also, water proof hiking boots. Long legs and sleeves will keep the midges away too! It is advisable to check the weather forecast for the island for the days you wish to come and bring clothing accordingly. Sometimes it is full sunshine and you will need to bring sunglasses, hats and sun block. Other days it will be wet and wild so warm and water proof items are required.

Visit to Round Church
Due respect should be adhered to church visits.

You will have opportunities to bathe in waterfalls, rivers, the sea and swimming pools. The swimming pool will be warm ~ the others less so.

With adherence to the policy detailed herein, Wild and Magic Islay provides culturally and environmentally aware responsible tourism in Islay, Scotland. It is tourism which contributes economically, socially and environmentally in the fullest of ways to the island. We help local people get the best deal from our operation and provide enjoyable, memorable and constructive experiences for our clients. We are also pleased to be able to say that our visits are generally enjoyable and constructive for the local people visited as well!

We at Wild and Magic Islay want your holiday with us to be a genuine experience of the real Isle of Islay, Scotland, with all that the land, and we have to offer. It is our express desire to promote responsible, sustainable and sensitive tourism to the island.

Wild and Magic Islay travel and events company 2012

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