The Armin Grewe Homepage
A popular excursion from Islay is the day trip to neighbouring Colonsay and Oronsay:

The visit to Colonsay is currently only possible once a week on Wednesdays by taking the Calmac ferry travelling from Kennacraig via Port Askaig to Oban and return. Leaving mid morning the ferry arrives in Colonsay late in the morning and returns early in the evening for an evening arrival back in Port Askaig. This leaves approximately 5-6 hours on Colonsay.

The main places to visit on Colonsay and Oronsay are:

  • Kiloran Bay on Colonsay
  • Colonsay House Gardens
  • Walking over The Strand to Oronsay, visiting the priory

Most people travel as foot passengers and walk on Colonsay, although it is possible to take the car if booked in advance.

Picture of a pier and some houses
Panoramic view over a sandy bay
Picture of waves breaking on a beach with a man standing in the surf Kiloran Bay in the north west of Colonsay is probably one of the most beautiful and photogenic in Scotland, a wide bay with a golden sandy beach flanked by Colonsay highest hill Carnan Eoin. On a clear day the Isle of Mull can be seen in the north, to the west is only the Atlantic, next stop America.

The view above is also available as a QuickTime VR panorama of Kiloran Bay (1MB download). The panorama is part of a page from a visit to Kiloran Bay in 2004.

While at Kiloran Bay you can sunbathe, swim (if it's warm enough), surf (after a strong westerly wind the rollers should be big enough) of fly kites (as there's usually at least a breeze). For the more energetic I recommend the short walk up Carnan Eoin for excellent views over Kiloran Bay, Colonsay and over to the Isle of Jura.

Picture of a large old house Picture of a rock garden with lots of flowers on a wall
Picture of an artificial lake with sea roses, surrounded by trees While Colonsay House (home of Lord Strathcona) itself isn't open to the public its wonderful gardens can be visited (opening hours should coincide with the ferry arrival and departure).

The garden was established early in the 19th century after hardwoods and rhododendrons had been planted to provide shelter belts. The shelter provided by the woodlands now allows tender and rare shrubs to flourish.

Various paths lead through the woodlands and gardens, providing nice views especially in spring and early summer. The Pond is a nice place to relax, home made cakes and tea are available at Colonsay House for refreshments.

You might also want to look out for the Tobar Oran cross and well, located near the house towards the north east. The early Christian statue is from the 7th or 8th century, standing next to the well dedicated to St Oran.

Picture of The Strand, tidal flats between Colonsay and Oronsay Picture of the ruins of a medieval priory
Picture of two carved stonesPicture of a carved crossA great experience is the 1.5 miles walk to Oronsay over The Strand, only possible at low tide. Before setting out for Oronsay make sure that the tide is correct, it is only possible to walk to and from Oronsay leaving approx 2hrs before low tide and having returned 2hrs after low tide. While it is possible to drive over The Strand I wouldn't recommend it (If your car gets stuck you are in big trouble...)

Apart from the walk over The Strand the main attraction on Oronsay is the Priory. Most of what can be seen today are remains of the 15th and 16th century Augustinian Priory although legend has it that St Columba founded a monastery here in the 6th century on his way to Iona. The Priory was home to a school of stonecarvers, don't miss the Great Cross as well as the tombstones now on display in the Prior's House.

If you have some time left you might want to stop by at the bar of the Colonsay Hotel in Scalasaig or make your way up to the monument. From the monument you can have excellent views over Scalasaig, the Isle of Jura and also the north of Islay on a clear day. On the return journey you should get some good views of the Paps of Jura as you approach the Sound of Islay.

Picture of a view over a village with a pier Picture of mountains over a sound
More information about Colonsay can be found on the Isle of Colonsay community website, which is also home to The Corncrake, Colonsay's newsletter. For more pictures and information you might also want to visit my pages from a longer visit in 2004 with the walk to Oronsay, a day at Kiloran Bay and visiting Colonsay House Gardens.