Where? Colonsay? With all the world to choose from, why on Earth would you choose an island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland, barely 10 miles long by 2 miles wide, with only 130 inhabitants? Here are the reasons, and they are fairly compelling:
1. Saving the world: anyone in Britain can get to Colonsay by public transport – the mainland port is Oban, easily reached by train or bus. Both ScotRail and CityBus operate frequent services between Glasgow city-centre and Oban. No private pollution is entailed and you enjoy a stress-free journey, no traffic jams, no motorway service-stations, just the ease and comfort of a bygone era.
2. The pleasure of the journey: the West Highland Railway (ScotRail) is acknowledged to be one of the most scenic journeys in the world, and it is followed by a 2 hour cruise through the magnificent Firth of Lorne, aboard a comfortable modern ship operated by CalMac Ferries Ltd, wholly-owned by the government.
3. The fascinating geology: you do not have to be an expert to recognise the overwhelming power of the ancient ice-sheets in the surviving contours of the land, nor to appreciate the massive pressures that suppressed the island and so slowly unveiled the extraordinary raised beach exposures of the present day. There are dramatic dykes filled by the magma of long-extinct volcanic action and the evident action of erosion upon a landform first created some 4,000 million years ago.
4. The magic of the island: vibrant with one of the largest bird colonies in the Inner Hebrides, blessed with hundreds of species of wild flowers, sea-girt and fringed with literally miles of flawless golden sands.
5. The romance of the place: at a critical junction in the sea-lanes of antiquity, Colonsay is endowed with significant remains from almost every period. The Mesolithic sites are amongst the finest in the UK, and there are also Bronze Age graves, Iron Age Forts, early Christian chapels, Viking settlements and enigmatic settlement and field systems from every age.
6. The lure of a proper holiday: every destination is within walking distance, there is golf, and fishing, and sand-castling and skinny-dipping and painting and photography and cycling and everything else that makes for true relaxation, and two restaurants and a pub, a bookshop, a brewery, a choice of two local gins and an excellent range of arts and crafts… to say nothing of the ceilidhs and the craic!
7. The satisfaction of a good choice: with the pound plummeting, foreign holidays are a bit of an indulgence. With airports becoming more crowded and oppressive with every passing day, flying is the new purgatory. With pollution and global-warming being what they are already, nobody wants to make things any worse.
Of course, you might say “Why Colonsay?” You might even say “Why not Skegness? Or Mull? Or Coventry? Or London?” In fact, you will only ask that question if you have not yet been to Colonsay – just look it up, and be surprised. It may be small, but it is very special, it is easily reached and it can easily become that very special place for you and your family.