Old Gortan Schoolhouse was built around 1880, as one of several schools constructed on Islay, to quite similar designs, following the passing of the Education Act in Scotland in 1872. This Act made education compulsory for all children between 5 and 13. The main schoolroom was in what is now our living room, and the windows in that room were placed deliberately high so that the children were not distracted by the beautiful views of Loch Indaal during their lessons! Old Gortan Schoolhouse functioned as a primary school until the 1970s. There is no shortage of people on the island whose uncles, aunts or grandparents were pupils at Gortan School!
Today a Grade B listed building, Old Gortan Schoolhouse is a characterful cottage. Located just one mile outside the village of Bruichladdich with its progressive whisky distillery, the Schoolhouse boasts stunning views of Loch Indaal. From the dining room table or garden bench, you can watch the tide going out, seabirds coming and going, and gaze across to the Paps of Jura and the other side of the island. At low tide, you can even see the ribs of a ruined boat rising from the water – one of the many shipwrecks around Islay’s shoreline.
With the gorgeous views and the cosy interior, you won’t want to leave the house! These are what make Old Gortan Schoolhouse “the cutest cottage on Islay”, according to local artist Dietmar Finger.
Old Gortan Schoolhouse has been fully refurbished in 2016 and furnished to make your stay as cosy and comfortable as possible – we hope it feels like a home from home.
The Schoolhouse comfortably sleeps four, with the addition of a sofabed in the living room allowing us to accommodate a maximum of six people.
The accommodation consists of a dining room with multi-fuel stove, a fully equipped kitchen, large cosy living room with plenty of comfortable seating and a TV and DVD player as well as books and games, a bathroom with electric shower, and two double bedrooms. One bedroom has a double bed, while the second bedroom can be configured as two single beds or one kingsize bed – just let us know your preferences. Additionally, one of the sofas in the living room converts to a sofabed for extra guests. We welcome children and a cot can also be provided upon request.
All towels and bedding are provided, but guests should bring their own beach towels.
Apart from one low step at the front door, the Schoolhouse is all on one level and generally accessible for guests with mobility issues. Please contact us if you want to enquire about wheelchair access.
There are off-street parking spaces for two cars, or one large van, on the gravel bay beside the house. A third car could be accommodated by parking on the lawn, however please contact us to enquire about this.
Old Gortan Schoolhouse has garden space to the front, side and rear of the property with outdoor seating and a wildflower garden that attracts birds and insects. Sometimes you can see deer in the neighbouring field!
We regret that we cannot accommodate pets and smoking is not permitted anywhere inside the property.
WiFi, electricity and heating are included in your rental. Unlike many places on the island, Old Gortan Schoolhouse offers good mobile phone reception on most network providers.
A welcome pack and information about the island, as well as maps and books to help you plan your holiday, or just to relax and enjoy, are available on arrival.
Prices and Booking:
We offer reasonable weekly prices all year round – please check our website for full details.
We offer a 10% discount for two-week stays.
Short breaks and special longer stay rates are available in low season. Please contact us for details.
Old Gortan Schoolhouse is about a 30-minute drive from both Islay Airport and Port Askaig, one of the island’s main ferry ports; it is about 40 minutes from the other main port at Port Ellen.
We will email detailed directions for how to reach the Schoolhouse when we receive the balance of your payment and confirm your booking.
The Schoolhouse is located very close to two of Islay’s newest and most progressive whisky distilleries. We are just one mile outside the village of Bruichladdich, and only five miles from Kilchoman.
Bruichladdich can be reached by a 2-minute drive, a 5-minute cycle or a 20-minute walk. The village Minimarket has a café, with great coffee and cheese toasties, and sells most of the basic provisions you might need, including milk, bread and daily newspapers. It is also the gathering point for the Islay Cycle Club.
Less than 5 minutes’ drive beyond Bruichladdich is Port Charlotte, with its excellent seafood restaurant, Yan’s Kitchen, as well as the Museum of Islay Life (open April to October) and the Islay Natural History Trust.
One mile from the Schoolhouse on the way to Kilchoman is Forelands House with its famous gardens, open to the public once a year in mid-May (the date is announced in the local newspaper, the Ileach). One mile beyond Kilchoman Distillery is Machair Bay with its amazing sandy beach and beautiful walks, and the ruins of Kilchoman Church and military cemetery, with one of Islay’s medieval standing crosses, Kilchoman Cross.
Another turning from this road will take you to the RSPB reserve at Loch Gruinart, where you can join regular RSPB tours. In the autumn you can watch the amazing spectacle of tens of thousands of wintering geese arriving on the island.
A 10-minute drive along the Uiskentuie Strand brings you to Bridgend. Here there is a general store stocking a wide selection of food and other useful supplies. Bridgend Stores also has a Post Office and a petrol station. At Bridgend are the famous woods, full of bluebells and other wildflowers in the spring, and Islay House Square, home to a range of independent art and craft shops. Here you can buy MA MacKinnon’s famous marmalades and chutneys, call into Islay Ales to sample locally-brewed beers, and visit the Community Garden to buy freshly-grown vegetables and home-made jams, and pick your own berries.
A short drive along the road towards Port Askaig is the famous Islay Woollen Mill, established in 1883 and housing some of the oldest functioning looms in Scotland. Call in to see a demonstration of the weaving process and to buy some of their lovely blankets and tweed products.
The main town of Bowmore is about a 15-minute drive from the Schoolhouse. Here you can find the Co-operative Supermarket, a butcher’s selling local meats and produce, as well as a range of shops, cafés and restaurants to meet all your needs.
Please see our website for full terms and conditions.