Colonsay (Scottish Gaelic: Colbhasa) is an island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides, located north of Islay and south of Mull and has an area of 4,074 hectares (15.7 sq mi). It is the ancestral home of Clan Macfie and the Colonsay branch of Clan MacNeill. Aligned on a south-west to north-east axis, it measures 8 miles (13 km) in length and reaches 3 miles (4.8 km) at its widest point.
The island’s total population is about 110 people. Colonsay’s main settlement is Scalasaig (Gaelic: Sgalasaig) on the east coast, from where ferries sail to Oban and, between April and October, to Kennacraig via Port Askaig on Islay.
The island is known for Colonsay House, the eighth century Riasg Buidhe Cross, its wild goats, and for birds including Black-legged Kittiwakes, cormorants, guillemots, corncrakes and golden eagles. The island is linked by a tidal causeway (named ‘The Strand’) to Oronsay [Orasa].
Although Colonsay appears bare and somewhat forbidding on approach from the sea, its landscape is exceptionally beautiful and varied, with some of the finest sandy beaches in the Hebrides, and a sheltered and fertile interior. Hence the growth of tourism as the mainstay of the island’s economy, with numerous holiday cottages, many of them owned and managed by the Isle of Colonsay Estate. The estate is owned by Donald Howard, 4th Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, whose eldest son and heir to the title, Alex Howard, lives on the island with his family and oversees the running of the Estate. The Colonsay Hotel, the only one on the island, is also estate owned.
There are about twenty traditional holiday cottages and a stylish small hotel. “The Colonsay” – soaked in freshness with the gardent at the front and green hills at its back, the hotel is mere 400 Meters away from the ferry dock. Creag nan Ubhal, Col Na Sithe, Corncrake Cottage and The Bowmore House are few other known cottages in Colonsay. There are also backpacker’s lodge,most of them with sea views and open fires, offering any type of accommodation from which to explore the peaceful and scenic landscapes of the stunning Isle of Colonsay.
You can get to Colonsay by Calmac ferry most days of the week, and also flights twice a week from Oban via Highland Airways. The old waiting room of the ferry terminal now serves as the island’s heritage centre and is usually open when the ferry docks.
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