Colonsay 1980

LEADER: John Round

ASSISTANT LEADERS; Colette Armitage, Roger Butler, Paul Caffery, John Ringrow, Janet Simpson

MEMBERS: Howard Battersby, Andrew Bishop, James Clegg, Nick Close, Tim Dewhurst,

Jonathan Douglas, Craig Eason, Tim Gallagher, David Gooberman, Alan Holt, George Johnson,

Maurice Patel, Nick Pender, Scott Russell, Jes Smith, Steven Ward, Simon Webb.


The passage of time, the final healing of my blistered feet and the comfortable security of my midge-free armchair at home, have already coloured my memories of our expedition to Colonsay with a warn glow of rosy retrospection. Looking back our time on the island appears to have been a kaleidoscope of different events and activities -infinitely varied, exciting and eventful. We saw all sides of the islands character during our stay. Shortly after we had pitched camp at Tobar Fuar the wind rose to gale force, the heavens opened and we spent much of one night into the early hours banging in extra marquee pegs to the sound of snapping poles in some of our smaller tents. Resourcefully we dug pretty drainage ditches around the site, passing in the front door and out of the back door of a rabbit warren, much to the surprise of its occupants, and Roger Butler pitched his tent inside the marquee - perhaps the height of insecurity? However the bad weather didn't stop our activities. Within the week the island relented and the legendary Colonsay sun began to shine. Our main activity was walking and exploring the island. Colonsay is large enough to provide a lot of variety and yet small enough to get to know well. During the expedition we covered the whole island as our route map shows. Few people will forget the beauty of our site, the pounding of the surf at Kiloran Bay and the wild country to the North with its heather clad hills. We journeyed to see the ruined village, the remarkable gardens at Colonsay House with their rhododendrons and ostiches [Ostriches ? NS] and the Priory at Oronsay where St.Columba landed in times long past. However we didn't confine ourselves to walking. Canoeing and boating in the bay by the campsite was popular and we went climbing on the nearby rock faces. During the evening various events of the 'Colympics’ were staged - surely our athletes outshone those at Moscow? We also had sing songs in the marquee to the hiss of tilly lamps and the grunts of hand wrestlers locked in mortal combat. I think by the end of the expedition we had improved to the extent that we were all singing the same song at the same time, if not to the same tune.

 Projects suffered a little through the bad weather, but we did some bird watching and I think everyone (apart from Nick) saw the Golden Eagles. We counted goats for the Nature Conservancy and Colette even found a use for our dissection trays as cake tins in her doughnut project. We went butterfly counting and some people went wax rubbing on Oronsay, we even had a go at dyeing wool with lichen and a simple botany project. Throughout the expedition we had a lot of contact with the Islanders. This ranged from lifts on. Davy’s tractor and taking part in the Regatta to, two "football matches" against the Colonsay Crackers, which we marginally lost, only 10-1 and 11-2, suffering a sprained ankle and three cracked ribs in the process. On our last night we entertained the local people to a barbecue at which we burnt our driftwood furniture and (for those who could stand the pace) sang songs to the early hours of the morning. Looking at the burning fire (obliterating for ever those slanderous graffiti) it was difficult to accept that the expedition was nearly over. Soon we would be on our ways home, each taking our own particular memories but sharing a common debt of gratitude to those who made the expedition possible. To Lord and Lady Strathcona, .the Islanders on Colonsay and those on the S.H.S. Board and Management Committee we owe a great deal. Lastly to the members and leaders of our expedition, I would like to add a personal thank you for helping to make the expedition the success it was. I for one left Colonsay with regret and with thoughts of return.


Group photo of the Colonsay 1980 expedition. [Two missing] - Thanks to Roger Butler for the photographs.

1). Janet Simpson



4). Collette Armitage


6). John Ringrow



9). John Round

10) Paul Caffery


12). 'Watty' an Islander, "a great help to the SHS"











The campsite at Machrins Bay, with the Paps of Jura just peeping behind. 

The marquee being taken down with what looks like lots of huge wood shavings on the floor.

After the expedition, putting gear into a lorry on Oban pier - it's Phil Renold on the lorry but look at the two pieces of kayak being held in the foreground!!
Thanks to Roger Butler for his photos and being able to add some names, if you recognise yourself or anyone else, please get in touch.