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Isle of Colonsay beaches
Scotland's Inner Hebrides have some amazingly spectacular scenery, and you'll find some soul-stirring white-sand stretches here, lapped and lashed by intense blue seas. Take a two-hour ferry ride from Oban on the mainland and you'll discover a landscape of raw beauty on the sparsely populated Isle of Colonsay. It's worth noting that this island has a good sunshine record - it's the sunniest place in Scotland.
The Isle of Colonsay's Kiloran Bay is a wonderful Hebridean beach, pure silver-white sands pounded by Atlantic rollers, backed by sand dunes and overlooked by craggy hills. There are views across the fierce blue of the Atlantic to the shadowy Isle of Mull. The south west corner is more sheltered, and tends to be where families head, but the other end has interesting coves and rocky inlets.
At low tide (the best time is the first two days after a full moon), you can walk across to the small Isle of Oronsay, with its 14th-century church ruins. Walking fans can also head out on an organised tour that follows a cross-country route through Balnahard, up the west coast and passing sites such as ancient caves and the gruagach stone (www.colonsay.org.uk/walks.html).
Visitors can catch their own dinner, whether fly fishing for trout, sea fishing for mackerel or crabbing off the pier. Anglers should contact the Colonsay Estate Office (www.colonsayestate.co.uk) for membership details and permission to fish.
Aside from pottering around on the spectacular beach, the surrounding landscape is an adventure playground of heather, crags and woodland. There is a route up to the summit of Carnan Eoin (the highest point on the island) at the end of the bay. Twitchers will be in heaven, and you can also spot grey seals off the coast, fish in the local lochs, and visit the sub-tropical gardens of Colonsay House in Kiloran.
Catch a boat over to the Scottish resort of Oban, the self-titled 'Seafood Capital of Scotland', for some delicious fishy treats. Visitors can also hop on a private boat charter with Scottish Yacht Charter (www.scottishyachtcharters.co.uk) to explore the west coast of Scotland.
Play a round at the stunning 18-hole golf course by Machrins Bay. The Colonsay Golf Club is a natural course and is said to be over 200 years old. Membership is required, but is open to all at the Colonsay Hotel (www.colonsayestate.co.uk).