19 October 2011--An unpleasant surprise at breakfast...the landlord hands us a bill for two nights' lodging. I realize that he lost a night's
booking at short notice, but it seems to me that over the long term, for every guest who fails to arrive because of a ferry cancellation, there's
another who cannot leave. Policy on this seems to vary among B&B's, and even from one island to another. In any case,
he's lost any possible future booking from me. Too bad, it's a nice spot.
Just outside Scalasaig, a plaque set in a small cairn describes Dun Eibhinn, which we sighted yesterday. The obvious route to walk up begins at the far side of a farm pen. The enclosure is an astonishing morass which we dare not attempt to cross, for fear of being sucked down to our doom. Well, that's a slight exaggeration, I suppose, but it's definitely more than ankle-deep. We've declined to cross some muddy patches several times on this trip. At the Frithard lookout in Plockton, we happened to be wearing shoes we didn't want to get muddy. On our second day in Knoydart, when we approached a bad stretch, we figured we'd gone as far as we wanted to, anyway. We'd have done either of those without a thought in different circumstances. This is different--I really want to go up to see the dun, but not at the risk of sinking up to my knees in mud. We spend some time looking for an alternate route, but we are thwarted by impassable thickets and barbed-wire fences. It's a well-defended fort.
Defeated, we visit the general store for postcards and a poke around, and peer into the closed brewery shop. A t-shirt would have been nice. Then we head out to Kiloran Bay for a walk on the beach.
There are caves in the cliffs at the far end of the beach, and we explore a couple of these. They extend much farther into the rock than I care to squeeze--the thought of being wedged into the narrowing crevice gives me the willies. A large rectangular rock at the mouth of one cave bears two cup marks, the only known such in Colonsay. These are common around Argyll, but no one really knows what their significance is.
Back out the spur road to the Strand, a side track leads up into the hills to the east. A short distance off the track is another hillfort, Dun Cholla. It's just high enough to afford splendid views toward Jura, Islay, and perhaps Northern Ireland. Finding this almost makes up for not getting to Dun Eibhinn.
There is time before catching the ferry to Islay to have a pint at the hotel. The IPA is on now...all right, two, then. It's very nice, and who knows if we'll ever get a chance to try it again. But I'm already thinking about returning to Colonsay. There is Oransay yet to see, of course, a few other minor archeological artifacts, and nooks and crannies to explore. I don't know if it will happen.
Daylight fades as we sail from Scalasaig, and we pass the Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila distilleries in the dark before landing at Port Askaig. Check into our B&B in Bruichladdich and arrive at the Port Charlotte Hotel for dinner. There is a session on, a pretty good one. And what do you know, there is the Colonsay Brewery's IPA, alongside the usual Islay Ales and Black Sheep. Somehow we end up in the back room with some locals and an entertaining visitor who is doing IT work for Diageo's refurbishment of Caol Ila. My whisky forum friends who disdain malt "made by computer" would likely be surprised by the long-bearded Harleyish-looking character who is setting it up. There is a lot of laughter and too much beer and whisky...it's an Islay evening.