Colonsay and Oronsay June 2011


Helen Rose Hill Diary

In my quest to visit as many Scottish Islands as possible, I recently went to Colonsay and Oronsay. I spent a long weekend there so managed to see most of the islands. Colonsay is one of the most remote islands of Argyll and lies off the west coast of Scotland. Westwards is the Atlantic and the nearest land is Canada. There are no deer on the island but wild goats rumoured to have originated from the shipwrecked Spanish Armada in 1588. We stayed at the very comfortable Colonsay Hotel at Scalasaig near the pier where the ferry calls in on the east of Colonsay. The island is reached by the Calmac ferry from Oban which is several hours drive from Glasgow. Therefore, most of the day is taken up travelling.

On the first day on Colonsay, we drove to the south of the island at Garvard to cross over the tombolo called the Strand where at low tide the islands are connected. This is a sandy strip and there is a limited time window to cross over to Oronsay and back before the tide comes in. However, there is one channel near Oronsay that never really dries up so wellies would be a good idea rather than wet feet!  It is the Atlantic so the water very cold to walk across in bare feet although one of our group did manage it. On Oronsay we walked over to the Priory dating from the fourteenth century. We walked on to the beach at Dubh Eilean, a glorious sweep of white sand. We returned to the Strand just in time before the tide came in and walked back to Scalasaig.

The following day we drove to Kiloran Bay on the north east of the island, another glorious sandy beach where we walked round to Carnan Eoin, the highest point on the island. After ascending the hill, we walked south on the island to Colonsay House for a picnic lunch. The house has a lovely garden with a burn running through it and interesting plants. On both days, the weather was sunny. In fact, Colonsay can boast in summertime that the amount of sunshine  is comparable to Tiree, the record holder in Scotland. We walked back to Scalasaig by Ben Gudairean to take in the views out to sea.

On the last full day, the weather was very wet in the morning giving  an excellent excuse to relax in the comfortable lounge of the hotel. In the afternoon, Kevin the man of many jobs (harbourmaster, guide, assistant registrar, school bus driver, bookshop owner, etc)  took us from Kiloran Bay on a circular  walking trip through the ancient forests where we glimpsed the island of Eilean Olnas through the trees. Although the terrain was tough underfoot with all the tree roots, we enjoyed the walk .

On the return journey from Colonsay, we had some time in Oban and took the opportunity to climb up to McCaig’s Folly, a well known landmark towering over the town. It was an enjoyable trip to Colonsay and Oronsay arranged by Fred at

Coming attractions; Ratagan and the Shetland Islands

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