Sunday, October 25, 2009

Glassard and a wooly welcome to Scalasaig, Colonsay

We continued SE along Colonsay's coast line after leaving the abandoned fishing village of Riasg Buidhe. We came upon the planned township of Glassard (Glas Aird) to which, the former residents of Riasg Buidhe moved. Each new croft house had its own hay meadow and the men folk were able to use bigger fishing boats which were kept in nearby Scalasaig harbour.

A recent survey showed that Colonsay had 89 houses of which, 39 were holiday homes. Some of the Glassard crofts are now holiday homes or lets and gradually the old family links to Riasg Buidhe are being lost. Hay was last cut in Glassard over 15 years ago and now the meadows, with their profusion of wild flowers, are being invaded by bracken.

It was nearing time for second luncheon and we now approached the capital of Colonsay, Scalasaig, with some anticipation.

We paddled between the sheltering arms of Scalasaig's harbour and landed at a little beach at its head. The only fishing vessel currently registered with its home port as Colonsay is CN183 Sea Spray. She is a 7m wooden creel fisher built in 1960. You can just see her red hull at the back of the line of moored boats.

We walked up towards the main road and prepared to meet the locals. Would there be any formalities attached with our arrival? Would carnets need to be stamped?

We were met by a small welcoming committee, who were sheltering in the shade of what we presumed to be the custom house. They appeared to be taking a siesta, so we moved forward slowly to pass. Their leader cast a disdainful eye over our salt encrusted Goretex paddling gear but, without comment, slowly stood aside to let us through.

We had arrived in Scalasaig!


  1. That power boat behind the sailboat looks to have kayaks on the roof. Friends of yours?

  2. Amazing Images. Looks like pretty fair conditions. So jealous was in Mull last week and ended up doing very sheltered paddling.

    Your images continue to inspire.

  3. Hi Peter, well spotted, there are two sitontops up on the roof. We did not know them and did not see them on the water.

    Thank you Bill, I waited a long time to get Colonsay like that!


  4. Your research is very impressive. As a matter of interest, an unofficial but fairly accurate snapshot of the island on 28 September 2009 shows a population of 122 persons, including 65 females and 57 males living in 72 households. There are 3 empty residential properties, and the total of 75 includes 44 which are privately owned, 17 which are owned by Colonsay Estate and 14 which are in some form of public ownership. Of the residential properties, 12 may be said to be reserved for work-related occupation and there are an additional 24 properties which are second-homes of persons who live elsewhere. A total of 49 properties are available for holiday lets, 37 of which are part of island-based businesses; the remaining 12 include commercial usage of some of the second homes. The entire housing stock amounts to 124 units, of which 44 were constructed within the last twenty years; work has commenced on the sites of an additional 4 houses.

    The resident population includes 18 persons whose full-time education is not yet complete, also 53 persons over 60 years of age. Residents include 5 who are in Colonsay in work-related postings and 17 who came to the island in retirement.

  5. Fiteach, thank you very much for your update on this wonderful island of Colonsay. Are you a lucky resident?