About Us

Hi I’m Lisa. Welcome to Islandeering I’m an islandeer, author and marine conservationist and passionate about sharing what I have learnt from my travels around the islands of the British Isles to help you find an adventure. I started the project 12 years ago after I had one of those light bulb moments and realised the pure magic that islands held for me. After meeting so many people on their island travels who shared my passion and told me that I must share my experiences so that others could do the same I set up Islandeering.com, where we are passionate about promoting responsible travel to our great British islands.
Learn More

Join our Islandeering community

We have a lot of fun here, as we continuously find new islands and meet plenty of great folks along the way. Join our community to get new routes and adventures, latest blogs and news by using the email box below. Tune in also to our Facebook and Instagram pages to see where we are going next.
High Point: Carnan Eoin (143 metres)
Population: 135
Size: 4074 hectares
Wild Factor: 10 out of 10

Overview: Colonsay is known as the jewel of the Hebrides and with its spectacular beaches, good walks, friendly community, great food and two gin distilleries it’s easy to see why. The arrival point is the tiny hamlet of Scalasaig with a post office, general store, café, bookshop and village hall. From here it is possible to explore the island’s many beaches and places of interest by bike, or do the full island circular ride.

Surrounded by crystal clear waters the best beaches on Colonsay include Kiloran Bay (popular for surfing, swimming and paddle boarding) and Balnahard on the north coast with views over to Mull, Scarba and Jura. There are a number of popular walks on the island along the rugged and impressive west coast; the ancient route across the island to Colonsay House (and Kiloran Bay); or climbing the highest peak, Carnan Eoin. Colonsay also has 22 MacPhies, hills above 91 metres, most of which do not have formal paths – a great challenge for the committed.

Colonsay has plenty of cultural highlights on offer too with range of events, including a music festival and book festival, there’s a fascinating craft shop and the island is one of the few places that successfully keeps native black honey bees (their honey is delicious).

Type of island: inhabited

Location: Inner Hebrides, Scotland

How to get to Colonsay: CalMac ferry from Oban to Colonsay takes 2 hours 20 minutes; also sailings from Islay, which takes 70 minutes and can be reached from Kennacraig, near Tarbert.

Getting around Colonsay: the best way is on foot or by bike

Best time to go to Colonsay: Colonsay is open to visitors year round.

Events on Colonsay: Colonsay hosts a variety of events including the following:

  • Literature Festival – usually in April/May, more details here
  • Food and Drink Festival – usually in October, more details here
  • Ceòl Cholasa  – a hugely popular music festival (September), more details here

Access to Colonsay: ferry

Dog friendly: yes

Food and drink on Colonsay: there  is some great food on Colonsay to take out for a beach picnic or to eat in. Here are some favourites:

The Pantry – right by the harbour that sells freshly baked bread, cakes and biscuits; light lunches and suppers including the scrumptious seafood platter.

Colonsay House Gardens Cafe – soups, filled bread rolls, tarts, teas and coffees and home-baked cakes served on a large sunny garden terrace overlooking the garden.

The Colonsay Hotel – gastro-pub and bar

Accommodation on Colonsay: a number of options on Colonsay ranging from hotel (closed November to March), B&B, self-catering, hostel (closed winter months) and wild camping (no camper vans or motorhomes permitted on the island). Check out accommodation on Colonsay here

Contacts:  Colonsay Post Office (fount of all knowledge – telephone 01951 200323)

Best things to do Colonsay: 

  • Cycle the island circuit – more here
  • Wild swim at Kiloran Bay and experience the “Colonsay washing machine”
  • Attempt all 22 MacPhies – more here
  • Help grow the whale sculpture by adding a stone – more here
  • Climb to the island highpoint for great views – more here – more here
  • Go the beach – find the best ones here

Look out for:

  • Seabird colonies on west coast cliffs
  • Rare marsh helleborine
  • Wild goats – descendants of those from a wrecked Spanish Armada

Nearby islands: whilst you are there, why not explore:

Oronsay – more here

Gallery

MacPhie Bagging on Colonsay

Climb all of Colonsay's 22 MacPhies

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Colonsay food and drink

Colonsay produces delicious food and drink on the island and hosts a hugely popular food festival

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Colonsay Whale Sculpture

Add a stone to help build the Colonsay whale

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Cycle around Colonsay

Explore Colonsay by bike on this full island circuit

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Colonsay walk to the highpoint

Walk up Carnon Eoin, Colonsay's high point

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Best beaches on Colonsay

Swim, walk or SUP on Colonsay's best beaches

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About Us

Hi I’m Lisa. Welcome to Islandeering I’m an islandeer, author and marine conservationist and passionate about sharing what I have learnt from my travels around the islands of the British Isles to help you find an adventure. I started the project 12 years ago after I had one of those light bulb moments and realised the pure magic that islands held for me. After meeting so many people on their island travels who shared my passion and told me that I must share my experiences so that others could do the same I set up Islandeering.com, where we are passionate about promoting responsible travel to our great British islands.
Learn More

Join our Islandeering community

We have a lot of fun here, as we continuously find new islands and meet plenty of great folks along the way. Join our community to get new routes and adventures, latest blogs and news by using the email box below. Tune in also to our Facebook and Instagram pages to see where we are going next.
Distance: 34 km
Difficulty: Moderate
Method: Cycle (on and off road)
Wow Factor: 9 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Colonsay, Inner Hebrides
  • Size: 4074 hectares
  • Terrain: Mix of quiet lanes; beach crossings; tracks
  • Access: Ferry from Oban
  • Height gain: 638 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 354
  • Starting point: Ferry port, Scalasaig
  • Accommodation/food:

    See visiting and facts page for Colonsay – here

  • Island Summary:

    Cycling on Colonsay is the best way to explore the island known as the jewel of the Hebrides. This island circular uses the main island lanes and tracks across more rugged ground and sands to access and explore the best beaches and scenery.

  • Look out for:
    • Kiloran Bay, arches and cave
    • Traigh Ban near Balnahard
    • Whale sculpture
    • Tracks around Colonsay House
  • Route description:

    This circular cycling route around the island of Colonsay starts at Scalasaig, passes the post office and heads uphill on the island lane onto the moorland  and Glas Aird, at the base of Beinn Gudairean. From the highpoint descend and turn right at the left hairpin bend on to the track that follows the south side of Turraman Loch.

    Follow the tracks through the woodland, close to Colonsay House and the back packers lodge and return to the B8087 at Kiloran. Turn right, and continue right (north east) on the B8086. Just after the 90 degree bend (left), turn right onto an unmarked track to Balnahard. First pass Kiloran Bay, pass the whale sculpture, then climb on the rugged track to Balnahard and the beach of Traigh Ban beyond. Return to the B8086 towards Colonsay House, and continue passed it heading south west towards Upper Kilchattan.

    On the west coast turn right onto the track, following signs to the Airfield, keeping west to skirt the end of the landing strip. Keep on the track through the rougher ground, then into the dunes and across Traigh nam Barc. Regain the track, continue to Garvard and join the B8085, near the departure point for the walk to Oronsay.

    Head north on the B8085, turn right at the junction with the B8086 and return to Scalasaig vis the Colonsay Hotel.

  • Getting there:

    CalMac ferry from Oban to Colonsay takes 2 hours 20 minutes; also sailings from Islay, which takes 70 minutes and can be reached from Kennacraig, near Tarbert.

     

Download file for GPS

Gallery