Bag the MacPhies of Colonsay and Oronsay
Bagging each of Scotland’s 282 Munros is perhaps the greatest physical challenge the country has to offer. But there are other ‘bagging’ experiences that require a bit less effort!
The MacPhies of Colonsay and Oronsay are the perfect example. A MacPhie is defined as a point over 300ft on the islands and there are 22 of them which can be bagged in a single 20-mile walk, making it possible to complete the challenge in a day.
Plan your trip to Colonsay
If you are up for the challenge, the following list might help your pre-planning. This goes from north to south, starting on the sand at Port Easdail and finishing at the Strand (road-end), and it assumes that Beinn Orasa is being ignored (due to nesting birds in spring). If including Beinn Orasa one might reverse the route, so as to allow for tidal constraints. Total ascent is either 2,419 m. or 2,522 m. if you include Beinn Orasa (Ben Nevis is only 1,345 m. high). The list is based upon the Ordnance Survey, including the “official” spelling and any local variant, heights (if given) and Grid References.
Do be careful, it is a long walk (21 to 23 miles), over rough ground, and with no shade; make sure that somebody knows of your planned route and when to expect you back.
1. Bheinn Bheag (A' Bheinn Bheag) 109m NR406986
2. Carnan Eoin (Carn an Eoin) 143m NR409985
3. Bheinn Bhreac (A' Bheinn Bhreac) 122m NR414987
4. Maol Buidhe (A' Mhaol Bhuidhe) 100m NR417983
5. Cnoc Mór Carraig nan Darrach (Cnoc Mór Charraig nan Darach) 92m NR413973
6. Beinn nam Fitheach 105m NR407967
7. No name (Dun Dubh, a' Phairc Gharbh) 104m NR407972
8. Beinn an Sgoltaire (Beinn a' Sgoltaire) 125m NR392975
9. No name (Beinn Uragaig) 120m NR385976
10. Beinn a’ Tuath (A' Bheinn a Tuath) 120m NR381971
11. Beinn Bhreac (A' Bheinn Bhreach) 139m NR375972
12. Mullairidh (Cnoc Mull-araich) 100m NR370965
13. Binnean Riabhach 117m NR364964
14. Carn Mór 134m NR373947
15. Beinn nan Caorach 126m NR366941
16. No name (Cnoc a' Raon a'Bhuilg) 120m NR372942
17. Carn na Cainnle 116m NR381945
18. Beinn nan Gudairean 136m NR388950
19. Carn nam Caorach (Carn nan Caorach) 110m NR392948
20. Cnoc an t-Samhla (Cnoc an t-Samhlaidh) 93m NR383926
21. Beinn Eibhne 98m NR378904
22. Beinn Oronsay (Beinn Orasa) 93m NR351893
There’s no official starting and finishing point for bagging the MacPhies and no official record for completing the walk. A fit person might complete it in something like the 6 hours and 44 minutes it took one, Eric Brown, in 1996, but you’d have to be going some to match the 3 hours 56 minutes managed by elite fell runner Jethro Lennox in 2002. Of course, there’s no pressure to bag the MacPhies in a single day. Why not linger and discover the magical atmosphere as well as the fascinating history, flora, and fauna of this tranquil island pair.
Discover the Inner Hebridean islands
Colonsay and it's much smaller conjoined neighbour Oronsay are Inner Hebridean islands separated only at high tide. If you’re planning a MacPhie-bagging trip you’ll need to know the tide times as one MacPhie is located on Oronsay.
The islands lie about 15 miles south of Mull while to their south and east lie Islay and Jura. If you’re MacPhie bagging on a clear day you might just be able to make out the coast of Donegal in Ireland to the southwest.