Winter Island Hop with Calmac

It’s difficult to sum up why I am so in love with the Hebrides – maybe it’s the deserted white sandy beaches, or the island hospitality – or maybe its just the anticipation of a CalMac breakfast! Whatever it is, it gives me more excitement than any holiday abroad could.

Visiting Colonsay in the winter was a different experience from any other time I have been. With all the summer fun packed away for off-season the island becomes the idyllic place to escape to for some fresh air. Emily and I hadn’t seen each other or been on a trip in forever, so nipping over to Colonsay for a few days was the perfect way to catch up.


The boat in winter is also a very different experience from the summer rush. No canteen queues for macaroni and endless seats to choose from. We spent most of the journey playing with our cameras and staring out the window amongst a few games of rummy.

Tips for winter holidays in the Hebrides

Pre book accommodation/croft sites, not that it’s busy but it’s better somebody knows you are coming. We stayed at Geaspar Lodge, booked via Air B&B.

Pre plan food – each island is different, but on Colonsay most places are closed over winter. We took a few things from home, and bought fresh food in the local shop.


Take a map and do not rely on phone signal. However, there is no getting lost on Colonsay as the one road loops around the island.

Pack plenty of waterproof and windproof clothing if you want to stay outside for any period of time!


Get out first thing in the morning to enjoy the best of the daylight. The light was fading for us around 4pm, which meant longer nights cosied up reading books and drinking wine!

So, what did we do for 3 days?

As soon as it was light in the morning we went out walking with our cameras. We wandered for hours and hours and only once saw another person who was out walking a dog. At low tide we walked across the strand to Oronsay… successfully making it home before the tide came back in.


We had a few cold water sea swims, and twice as many hot showers. We explored beaches, ran up little hills and spent the evenings cooking, playing cards, and cosied up in blankets.


Being on Colonsay at this time of year was pretty magical. It was beautifully wild and with a lasting sense of freedom it was hard getting back on the boat to come home to Glasgow. Until next time Colonsay!


Final winter travel tip – triple check timetables and use the CalMac app for service updates. For all island destinations, timetables and bookings visit

Also need to mention Emily, my beautiful best friend and photographer who took most of the images on this blog – check out her new website

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