Colonsay: Sea to Summit
This is a flexible route at the northern end of Colonsay taking in two lovely beaches and the highest point of the island the 143.4m Carnan Eoin. The full route is 7.2 miles, includes some rough terrain and is wet underfoot in places. However, you can choose to just walk from Kiloran Bay to the summit of Carnan Eoin, returning via the same way or use the return route on landrover track as the outward route to reach Balnahard Bay without having to deal with the rough terrain.
- Distance: 11.5 km / 7.2 miles (full route as described below. Shorter options are possible)
- Ascent: 450m / 1400 feet (full route as described below. Less for shorter options).
- Terrain: Beach/dune paths, landrover track, trodden path. Rough off path on heathery, knolly, wet ground after Carnan Eoin, which can be omitted).
- Start/finish: Parking area at Kiloran Bay. No public transport. Refreshments at Colonsay House gardens (limited opening hours) or in Scalasaig.
From Kiloran Bay parking area, head down the hill onto the sands crossing the burn at a suitable point. If you don’t want to get wet feet it is possible to walk back up the road and cross at the road bridge and then walk back down the other side to reach the beach.
From the northern end of the beach head up into the grassy dunes, cross the small burn and look for a gate at grid reference NR 4056 9828. After passing through the gate turn right across the grass to join the landrover track. Turn left on to this track which heads out to Balnahard Beach, a distance of 4km from this point. The track heads steeply uphill to cross the shoulder of Beinn Bheag. However, if you want to visit Carnan Eoin the 143.4m highest point of the island, leave the track to your right on a trodden path that follows the route of the electricity poles. At the col between Beinn Bheag and Carnan Eoin, the path for Carnan Eoin goes right up the hill. It is however, possible to include a short diversion up Beinn Bheag to the left before tackling Carnan Eoin. Reaching the summit of Carnan Eoin is straightforward and the views are rewarding of the effort.
Beyond Carnan Eoin the route is somewhat rough and heathery. If you would rather not tackle this type of terrain, it is possible to return to the landrover track and then walk out to Balnahard Bay that way. For the more intrepid walker, the more interesting option is to descend east then north east over to Beinn Bhreac. There is a feint trodden path through the heather but the underfoot conditions are still rough and a bit of up and down is required. Look out for wild goats in this area.
On reaching Beinn Bhreac descend north east off path down a rather wet and boggy gully. Follow the gully passing the edge of a wall then turn more northerly to reach another wall/fence. After this the route is a bit more gentle though still wet underfoot north east to reach the landrover track.
For Balnahard Beach turn right and follow the track for 1.2km to reach the beach. If you want a shorter walk, you can turn left and follow the track back to Kiloran Bay via Balnahard Farm, a distance of about 3km (4km to the parking area). Proceeding to Balnahard Bay the track passes a modern barn and the remains of an old chapel and burial ground.
Return from the beach on the track. After a distance of 1.6km Balnahard Farm is reached. After which it is about 2.3km back to Kiloran Bay and a further 1km to the parking area.
If you still have some energy left, make a short detour out to Meall na Monadh and Meall na Suiridhe. When the track turns sharp left at grid ref NR 4074 9943 to head back across Beinn Bheag, turn right across grassland and then slightly rougher ground to reach the summit of Meall na Monadh. Then head south west to Meall an Suiridhe overlooking an intriguing rock formation and topped with what appears to be a “modern standing stone”. Return to the track via the pebbles of a raised beach alongside the Colonsay Whale Sculpture, for the remainder of the walk back to Kiloran Bay. Either return to the parking area via the beach or stay with the track to reach the road a short distance from the start.