I had 2 nights on Colonsay and almost 2 days there. It’s not big, so unless you have a particular interest in staying longer, 2 or 3 days is enough.
It’s the perfect place for the “get away from it all” holiday, so long as you’re flexible in your attitude to the weather! Most accommodation is self catering – holiday cottages. Mine was self catering – but a 1 bedroom apartment at Colonsay House. It was very comfortable and relaxing.
The House is the home of the island’s owners – Donald Howard, 4th Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, and is currently occupied by his eldest son. The servants’ quarters have been converted into self catering units.
Other options are a couple of bed and breakfast places, a backpackers’ hostel and the Colonsay Hotel.
I ate at the Hotel once – it was superb. I had oysters from the farm on the island and beef (for a burger) also from an island farm.
I also ate at the cafe at Colonsay House Gardens – much less grand, but excellent too.
You can buy food (and lots of other stuff) at Colonsay General Store. Their fresh croissants perked me up in the mornings. They modestly announce themselves as the “ Best Wee Shop in the Hebrides”. They’ll also deliver (free) to your self catering place and will even fill the fridge and cupboard before you arrive.
That makes a lot of sense and is smart marketing even in a normal environment, but with Colonsay the ferry often arrives at 18:45 and the shop shuts at 17:30.
You can buy lobster and crab from a local fisherman.
I rented a bike from Archie’s enterprises for £10 per day. He was helpful by dropping it at the apartment for me before I arrived and then collecting it from the ferry terminal when I left. If the weather co-operates, walking and cycling are the way to get around.
Even if the weather turns “Scottish” it’s no big deal. When I turned up for dinner at the hotel looking like I’d been through a hedge backwards and landed in a muddy puddle, no-one looked twice. This is not unusual.
If you need to buy presents or souvenirs to take home, there’s the beer, gin and honey produced on the island. I went for the honey. The bees feed on the machair and it is claimed to give the honey a special flavour. I haven’t tried my jar yet but I gave a jar to a friend and she reckons it’s great.
The Calmac ferry back to the mainland (at Oban mostly, but a couple of sailings take you to Kennacraig) takes 2.5 hours. That’s plenty time for a leisurely lunch or dinner and then a nap. The food is good too! It cost £7.15 for a single.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2017