Colonsay 1985.


Leader:- Colette Armitage

Assistant Leaders: James McMillan, Peter Davies, Mike Young, Alex Head, Hugh Lorimer, Mark Cocks, Claire McCombe

Members: Andrew Baker, Alex Boakes, Graeme Brown, Kirk Bullen, Mark Cannon, Paul Clough, Paul Connolly, Sarah Curtis, Sally Davies,

Steven Day, Stephen Dunn, Mary Fawcett, Nick Furneaux, Mark Goslyn, Kristian Kershaw, Margaret Lees, Andrew Marsh, Duncan Palmer,

Avishai Russell, Philip Scriven, Neil Taylor, Danny Webb, Kathy Rooke, Patrick Gambier.


Irate leader to BR employee, late afternoon on the day of departure:

"What do you mean, the 21 24 from Bristol to Glasgow has been cancelled"

From that moment on I just knew that this was going to be one of THOSE expeditions. Fortunately for us, BR provided an 'alternative' train (diesel as opposed to electric) and the rest of the journey north was surprisingly uneventful. No-one missed the train, no-one got lost in Glasgow and no-one left their kit on the train to Edinburgh! After some 30 hours travelling we finally arrived on Colonsay in one piece. It was, as they say, good to be back. The Colonsay Appreciation Society lives on, having gained a few more members.

The inclement weather didn't really hinder us in any way other than that we couldn't spend hours sunbathing on Kiloran Bay, that beautiful expanse of golden beach reminiscent of the Mediterranean. In addition to the usual activities, canoeing, climbing, sailing and even, on one moderately fine day, swimming, much time was spent getting to know the island, and going to see some of the many places of interest: the caves at Kiloran where Bonnie Prince Charlie is reputed to have hidden; the magnificent cliffs at Pigs Paradise on the west coast; the abandoned village at Riasg Buidhe (Gaelic for Yellow Moor) -once a thriving fishing community until it was evacuated in 1922 and the people re-housed near the road at Glassard; Oronsay Priory accessible only at low tide; one of the few remaining monasteries in the Western Isles; and Carnan Eoin (Bird Cairn) which, at 470 feet is the island's highest peak and from where, on a clear day (not that we had many of these) you can see Ben Nevis, Iona, Donegal and sometimes even Barra.

A list of places of interest would not be complete without mention of Scalasaig and the irresistible lure of the chocolate shop. I am ashamed to say that we got through the island's entire supply of Mars bars, not to mention all the other goodies that were on sale in the island's only shop.

Great ambitions to get the entire expedition (not, I hasten to add, all at the same time) to walk round the island were, unfortunately, not fulfilled, mainly due to the weather. However, one group of he-men and superscouts did manage to complete the course in what I believe was a record time.

In terms of projects, we were lucky enough to be able to take part in the "Domesday Project", more details of which you should find in this report. Special thanks must go to the islanders who supplied us with all the information and the cups of tea that kept us going.

One of the highlights of the expedition was the Colonsay Marathon, carefully thought out by those sadistic ALs (who else could have thought of making the losers eat a tin of cold tomatoes?) Duty groups competed against one another in a canoeing relay, a road run to Scalasaig and back (who could forget those grinning marshals rubbing their hands with glee as you all slogged up the hill?), a blindfold trail and finally a strenuous (?) PT session organised by our resident sergeant-major. The winners were richer to the tune of some 48 Mars bars; needless to say, they also had stomach ache!

Evening entertainment largely consisted of all the usual silly games, 'bunnies', 'biggles' etc, the odd competition to see who could empty the drainage ditches inside the marquee the quickest (whose silly idea was it to pitch the marquee over a hole, anyway?) and last but not least who could design a new superloo to replace the one with the view of the bay and the bent poles.

As always, the end of the expedition came about all too quickly, although I have to confess, I was secretly glad. I'm not too keen on waking up in a pool of water that has got through my 'waterproof ' tent! The last night was spent eating specially prepared, real tomato soup, beef curry, coleslaw and trifle (I suppose the ALs do have some uses) in the company of some of the islanders. A very enjoyable end to the expedition.

Colette Armitage

Here are 3 photos from Steven Day. In the first photo - On the right in red t-shirt Danny Webb, Kathy Rooke (now Katherine Partis) 2nd from right in pink top, and Mary Fawcett in check shirt 4th from right.