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Colonsay


Tours of Scotland, Inner Hebrides

This Hebridean group includes Islay, Jura, Colonsay, Oronsay and assorted rocky outcrops. The turbulent seas are popular with experienced sailors, while walkers, swimmers and cyclists are drawn to the hills, beaches and countryside. Golden eagles, grey seals and goats are among the abundant wildlife, and subtropical plants grow in the mild climate.

Ardlussa Cemetery
Mary McCrain, said to have lived to 128, buried here. Male ancestor reputed to have reached 180.

Beinn Bheigeir
Island's highest point at 1612ft. From Ardtalla at its foot, path leads to McArthur's Head light-house on Sound of Islay.

Beinn nan Gudairean
Old road at rear of hotel leads to summit of hill and scattered remains of fort. Views of Staffa, Lunge, Mull and peaks of Ben Nevis, Ben Mor and Ben Lomond.

Bowmore
Council offices, hospital, and fire station located in this harbour village of stone-built houses and modern dwellings. Distillery, established 1779, has excellent reception area. Kilarrow Church built in 1767 is circular in shape.

Bridgend
Roads to north, south and west of island meet here at head of sandy sea loch. Viaduct nearby carries private road to Islay House. Hill-top memorial to John F. Campbell, collector of West Highland folk-lore. Trout fishing in five lochs, sea angling from launches, wild-fowling and hind stalking.

Colonsay
Subtropical plants and 150 species of birds flourish in naturalist's paradise. Man first visited island in 7000 BC, and has occupied it since the Middle Stone Age. Walking, fishing, cycling and golf.

Corran Sands
Silver and while sands stretch for 3 1/2 miles beside Jura's only road, which runs for 24 miles from Feolin Ferry to Ardlussa.

Corryvreckan Whirlpool
Ten-knot tide race in channel between north lure and Scarba becomes roaring maelstrom of white water. Has claimed many vessels and lives. Best to view an hour or so after low tide.

Dun Ghallain
Secret cave hiding place of MacFie clan and remains of fort protected by cliffs on two sides.

Dunyvaig Castle
Ruined fortress dating back to 14th century once belonged to MacDonalds, Lords of the Isles.

Ellister Bird Sanctuary
Thirty species of ducks, swans and geese in scenic environment near Port Charlotte.

Finlaggan Castle
Ancient seat and parliament of the Lord of the Isles, now ruins on island in Loch Finlaggan. Visitor centre at Finlaggan farm.

Grannie's Rock
Rock above Machir Bay sands has profile like old woman gazing out to sea. Ruins of Dun Chroisprig, Iron Age broch, nearby.

Islay
Community of 4000 yields 7000 a head annually to Exchequer, largely thanks to whisky industry. Malt dried over local peat, giving unique flavour. Wilder west coast gives way to farms and boggy lowlands.

Jura
Red deer outnumber 250 inhabitants by 20 to one. Standing stones, Iron Age forts and cave-strewn cliffs. Inland, woods give way to moorland heath and scree. One main road.

Jura House Walled Garden
Subtropical shrubs and flowers grow abundantly. Views from cliff top and woodland walks.

Kilchattan
Remains of medieval church, thought to be dedicated to St Calan, within walled burial ground. Baptist chapel built 1879 near remains of chapel to St Mary.

Kilchiaran
Ruins of St Ciaran's Chapel lie by track leading to bay. Oyster-catchers and curlews to be seen.

Kildalton
Ruined church with 8th-century carved Celtic cross, reached by unclassified road through woods.

Kilnaughton Bay
Unspoiled golden sands 1 mile west of Port Ellen.

Kiloran Bay
Beach backed by sand dunes in which rabbits thrive. Safe surfing in Atlantic rollers. Natural rock pool deep enough for diving.

Kiloran Gardens
Rhododendrons, palms, mimosa, embothriums and eucalyptus flourish beside native trees, bluebells and meconopsis.

Laggan Bay
The Big Strand, 5 miles of shell sand, stretches to Laggan at northern end where river with salmon and trout flows into sea.

Laphroaig Distillery
Established in 1815. One of several distilleries on island which produce distinctively flavoured malts. Traditional melting floor.

Loch Gruinart
A main wintering ground for Arctic barnacle geese. In 1598 MacLeans of Duart lost clan battle against MacDonalds of Islay, who pursued survivors to their refuge in Kilnave Chapel and burned it. Only one MacLean escaped.

MacFie's Stone
Clan chief murdered herein 1623; many clan members visit site. Two carved stones may indicate early Christian burial ground.

The Mill
Mill, 19th century -- built by Lord Colonsay -- now converted to dwelling, but water wheel still in place. Building behind mill said to have been carpenter's shop.

The Oa
Peninsula of lochs and caves, once used by illicit whisky distillers end smugglers. Topped by Beinn Mhor, 658ft. Monument at Mull of Oa to 650 U.S. servicemen who died when two troopships, Tuscania and Otranto, sank off the headland nearby in 1918.

Oronsay
St Columba said to have landed here on way to Iona in 6th century. Long-horned, black-fleeced wild goats may be descendants of animals from Armada ships wrecked in 1588. Grey seals on rocky islets.

Oronsay Priory
Ruins of priory dating from 13th century contain 16th-century Celtic cross and high altar. Stone slabs in graveyard have carved portraits of warriors and saints,

Paps Of Jura
Three conical mountains, highest 2571ft, give views over 100 miles to Isle of Man and Outer Hebrides. Climbers should take care, especially from August to february when deer stalkers abound.

Port Askaig
Ferry port from mainland and connecting point for five-minute ferry run to Jura. Post office, hotel, store and a lifeboat station. Safe bathing.

Port Charlotte
Principal village of Rinns of Islay and prosperous farming area. Village creamery takes island's entire milk output, producing cheese sold on mainland and abroad. Museum of Islay Life has displays of local history from prehistoric times. Street names are written in Gaelic.

Port Ellen
Chief township built in mid-19th century and car ferry port. Flanked by peat moor used in malt whisky industry. Pier, post office, double-tower lighthouse. Sailing, swimming and Machrie golf course nearby.

Portnahaven
Tiny village and neighbouring Port Wemyss stand in treeless area with dramatic cliff scenery and views to Ireland. Village includes post office., store, school and two churches. Offshore is Isle of Orsay lighthouse.

Riasg Buidhe
Remains of 19th-century homes, earlier chapel and burial ground. Village abandoned in 1918. Inhabitants rebooted at Glassard, near Scalasaig.

Saligo Bay
Atlantic rollers wash great sandy bay dominated by 400ft cliffs. Behind is Loch Gorm, largest freshwater loch on island.

Scalasaig
Saithe and mackerel can be caught from the pier -- arrival point for Oban ferry. Seafarers use the 19th-century monument to Lord Colonsay as a landmark when anchoring off pier or at Queen's Bay.