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Find out how you can Connect with Colonsay!

Find out how you can Connect with Colonsay!
Colonsay is a gem of a Hebridean island, sitting to the north of Islay and the west of Jura. It may be small - just 10 miles long by 2 miles wide – but it’s packed with wonderful things to see and do. You’ll find outstanding natural scenery, beautiful beaches, a huge diversity of flora and fauna and awesome archaeological sites. Neighbouring Oronsay sits half a mile to the south, and you can walk across from Colonsay at low tide.

Colonsay may be a peaceful and remote island, but there’s a vibrant, thriving community living here engaging in all sorts of activities, from publishing to honey production, brewing beer to oyster farming. There’s a cracking cultural scene too, with many musicians and artists living and working on the island. With so much to celebrate, it’s not surprising that Colonsay plays host to a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Ceòl Cholasa music festival in September and Colonsay Book Festival in April.

For a tantalising taste of everything that Colonsay has to offer, you can’t beat Connect with Colonsay, a two-week festival starting this Saturday (8th October). The programme is bursting with activities, workshops and events showcasing Colonsay’s fabulous food, drink, culture and natural assets. With whisky, beer and wine tastings, seasonal cookery classes, bird watching and historical guided walks, evening talks, craft workshops, music sessions and more, you can really get closer to Colonsay life. There are lots of sessions for children, so it’s a great way to spend the October break.

There’s something for everyone. Gourmets can learn how to make crab pasta using fabulous local shellfish or trying their hand at preserving and making bramble jam, rowan jelly and green tomato chutney. For those who love nature, join Kevin Byrne, who has been studying the 33-odd species of ferns on Colonsay, for a botanical walk. Or how about an RSPB guided walk to learn about the species that migrate through and live on Oronsay? History buffs should walk to Oronsay with Andrew McMorrine to find out more about Oronsay’s Norsemen, monks and chieftains. Perhaps you’d like to give Gaelic song a go with a workshop followed by an informal music session. And there’s only one way to round off the festival. Join Chris Nisbet – Colonsay’s own brewer – at the Colonsay Hotel to sample beers and lagers from around the world, as well as the much-loved Colonsay Ales!

You can see the full Connect With Colonsay programme on Colonsay Events. You’ll also be given a copy of the programme as you step off the ferry. You can buy tickets for all the events at the festival office in the Colonsay Hotel from 9 am to 11am every day during the festival. For information in the meantime, email cottages@colonsayholidays.co.uk.

How to get to Colonsay
The CalMac ferry to Colonsay runs five times a week (in winter three times) from Oban and there’s an additional summer service from Kennacraig via Islay. The journey takes just over two hours and is a beautiful one, passing between the mainland and the islands of Kererra and Mull and then sailing south and west past the islands of Seil, Luing, Scarba and Jura. Unless you really need it, why not leave your car behind? Colonsay is a brilliant island for cycling and bikes go free on the ferry. Hebridean Air Services also operates scheduled flights from Oban to Colonsay.

Where to stay on Colonsay
There’s a fantastic range of places to stay on Colonsay, many in magical locations. The Colonsay Hotel is the only hotel on the island. Sitting on the hillside above the harbour, it’s a relaxed and comfortable place with a fantastic wee pub. The Backpackers Lodge is located at the centre of the island, about 2km from the pub, shop and pier. There’s a huge choice of self-catering accommodation as well as a couple of B&Bs on Colonsay.

Find out more about accommodation on Colonsay. Find out about things to see and do on Islay, Jura and Colonsay. The Isle of Colonsay website is a great resource for planning your Colonsay holiday.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Hobhouse.
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