It’s winter, which means it’s time for my yearly holiday somewhere really bleak and miserable. This time it’s Colonsay, a small island in the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland. I rented a small cottage and spent a very pleasant week there hiding from the storms in front of the solid fuel stove, and here are the photos.

Colonsay’s about 10km long and there’s evidence of population for at least nine thousand years — the island’s completely littered with ruined duns (iron age forts from about 1000 B.C.), which are now invisible unless you’re an expert. Currently the population’s a bit over a hundred and the island is used for farming and tourism. It’s home to a dramatic range of landscapes ranging from the usual Scottish bog (so wet you can have standing water on a 45° slope) to absolutely perfect golden sandy beaches, and has a remarkable amount of wildlife, including a herd of wild goats.

I was staying at Crumble Cottage, a traditional cottage, first ruined and then restored from scratch — solid and very comfortable, with a solid fuel stove for heat. This was very necessary in mid December, and I had many cozy evenings sitting in front of the stove while the wind blew around the eaves. It also had a That Which Lives In The Attic, which thumped and rattled impressively during the night; I hope I didn’t annoy it too much. The cottage is on the relatively wooly west side of the island and was an hour’s walk from the only shop on the island at Scalasaig (and the only pub, which is nearby). I did rent a bicycle with tow buggy but it turned out to have the hardest saddle I’ve ever encountered and I generally preferred to walk.

After spending the week walking gently across the island, visiting some of the amazing beaches, crossing the moors and generally not doing very much, I caught the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry home — on time, which was highly unusual.

I can definitely recommend Colonsay for a holiday if you like peace and quiet and superb views, although I’d probably suggest going in the summer.