Colonsay

On Wednesday we took the ferry to Colonsay for the day. The intention was to hire bicycles at Scalasaig and explore the island’s road network (all ten miles of it) and then spend a few hours on a beach before heading back for the evening ferry. The weather was very indifferent to start with; rain and fog characterised the crossing to Islay and the sail up the sound between Islay and Jura. After the ferry had stopped at Port Askaig and set off out into the Atlantic to Colonsay, the weather showed some hints of improvement and a few rays of sunshine even sparkled on the island as we approached. Off the ferry, we found the bikes that we had hired for the day, having made a call from about 45 minutes out from land to book them, and set off up the road. We had gone about five minutes when Chickabiddy “K” took it upon herself to fall into a watery ditch with her bike on top of her. This caused a major dramatic interlude while she was hauled out, dried out and changed into Her Maj’s spare clothing. My temper was somewhat frayed when, twenty minutes after falling into the ditch, darling daughter then decided she wanted completelt to re-lace her trainers. After some unseemly (and untypical) paternal swearing the party set off in sombre mood. We made it down the end of the road to The Straned, which separates Colonsay from Oronsay and across which walkers and vehicles can pass at low tide. We picnicked on a rock overlooking Oronsay and then found the route across to the island. A mile or so inland is the old priory, which is a well-preserved monastic complex complete with a selection of human skulls, one of the smallest cloisters I have ever seen and an elaborately-carved cross. The whole cross could not be adequately captured but here is a detail from the base:

Once we had looked around the priory, it was really time to set off back to the bikes, which were a couple of miles and a very long paddle away, and then back up the road to Scalasaig for a welcome pint in The Colonsay (the local hotel) before catching the ferry back home again.
Colonsay is a rugged, rocky and heathery place and will well deserve a more leisurely exploration at some stage, preferably just Her Maj and me.

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