Kevin and Christa Byrne provide a range of guiding services, outlined below. These have been suspended due to Covid, and just might resume in 2022


Ferns are popularly recognised as having originated during the Devonian era, almost 400 million years ago, somewhat earlier than the flowering plants whose origin lies in the Carboniferous period; not that 50 million years makes a lot of difference. They are recognised as being in some way special - they are found as fossils, they were believed to have medicinal properties, they conferred the gift of invisibility to humans, they even inspired the crozier or bishop's staff of office. They have no seed, and their life cycle seems quite exotic, running through two quite distinct generations each time.

There are said to be some 13,000 species of Pteridophytes in all, and here in Colonsay we have at least 33 of them, including our ubiquitous bracken. Although the Victorians were fascinated by them, ferns are perhaps slightly neglected nowadays, so we offer you the chance to rekindle your interest by joining one of our regular Fern Appreciation walks. The walks are led by Kevin Byrne, an enthusiastic novice who nonetheless can happily guide you on a relatively gentle tour around a dozen or more of our more interesting and accessible specimens.

Choose a very simple ramble through the woodland garden of Colonsay House ( Option A : allow 90 minutes, good outdoor footwear); or if you are a little more adventurous, a slightly longer walk can readily expand the species list ( Option B : allow 2 hours, wellington boots essential). Even better, we can include a walk through A' Choille Mhór ("The Big Wood"), which is a magnificent example of ancient and mature woodland ( Option C : allow 3 hours, wellington boots essential).

It is best to bring your own camera and notebook, but Kevin will bring magnifying lenses and a basic identification key. We want this to be an enjoyable experience so suggest that you choose dry weather with a light breeze, thus avoiding wet legs and the attention of any midges. We will normally limit ourselves to groups of between two and six persons, and well-behaved dogs should not be a problem. Since the terrain does include natural hazards, participation is at your own risk.

Suggested start times, meeting at Old Village Hall, Kiloran:

Monday, Tuesday or Thursday: 10.00hrs or 14.00hrs

Cost per adult is £10.00 for Option A, £12.50 for Option B or £15.00 for Option C.

Note: The first persons to book for a given day and time will choose the Option for that particular walk.

There is no charge for children, but anyone under about 12 years might find it a bit boring.

Fern Appreciation Walks were offered for the first time in 2016 and, in a modest way, were well received. Please note that whilst we can guide the walks and draw attention to many basic species and features,we are not experts. Hopefully interaction in the field will stimulate all concerned and lead to a much greater appreciation of this fascinating field of native plants.

Book with Kevin Byrne Tel: 01951 200320 E-mail Kevin Byrne colonsaybyrne@gmail.com or at Colonsay Bookshop




We can offer you a guided tour of Colonsay in your own vehicle, taking about an hour and a half (more likely two hours). Although we are restricted to the road system, it is sufficient to give you a broad sweep of the island's history and topography. The ancient geological background, the effect of the last Ice Age and the arrival of Mesolithic hunter-gatherers lead on to an outline of events from the Bronze Age to the present day. We clarify the relevance of Clan Donald and Clan McPhee, describe the flourishing of the McNeills and other local families and also the Clearances, and lead on to the purchase of the island by the first Baron Strathcona & Mountroyal. The tour may help you to identify places for further investigation, perhaps especial scenery, historic sites, places of family interest or locations suited to botany, ornithology or photography. If you have limited time, this may help you to make the most of it. Cost is £50.00 per party.

Payment by cheque or credit card is very acceptable. Telephone 01951 200320 to book.

Kevin Byrne colonsaybyrne@gmail.com


EXPLORE BALNAHARD This is an occasional walk, only if 4 people or more wish to take it and if Kevin is available.

This is a fairly vigorous walk. We hesitate to give advice on footwear for reasons of H & S, but it is perhaps fair to mention that except in very fine weather Kevin normally wears wellington boots. The walks ideally starts at 10.00 am or so, and one should allow 4 or 5 hours; we are mostly off the beaten track so there should be plenty of natural history to enjoy as well as fresh air and a few curiosities along the way.

BALNAHARD: the walk starts from An Crosan (bridge leading from public road at Kiloran onto Balnahard Track). It includes Port Easdail, the caves, cupmarks, St. Columba's Well and a chance to see a fine Bronze Age house and nearby Iron Age (?) fort. Then onwards to Port Sgibinis, Port an Obain, Dun Meadhonach (at one time "the home of the Richest Woman in the World"), the Gruagach Stone, Carraig Nighean Mhaol Choinnich, Cill Chatriona etc. It is possible to break away at that point for a bathe or picnic at Balnahard Bay, and/or to walk back to An Crosan along the track. Hardier souls may prefer to return along the east coast and to see Sguid nam Ban Truagh, the standing stone at Cnoc a' Charraigh, Cnoc na Faire, Sron 'ic Ille Mhiniche and the very interesting shieling at A' Mhaol Bhuidhe.

The trip is not intended to be competitive, but participants should be reasonably fit. As well as your lunch, please remember to bring chocolate and a bottle of water. Children will need to be reasonably independent - perhaps 12 yrs. or more; and well-behaved dogs are very welcome (there are only two places where you may need to lift your dog across an obstacle).

Cost is £60.00 per party - fine for a couple, up to about six is good but no special limit; a well-controlled dog should be no problem. Please contact Kevin Byrne to discuss possible details on 01951 200320.

Payment by cheque or credit card is very acceptable. Telephone 01951 200320 to book.

Kevin Byrne colonsaybyrne@gmail.com


If you have a particular interest in Family History, or archaeology, topography etc., Kevin Byrne may also be able to assist with a special tour, whether on foot or using your own vehicle. Cost is £25.00 an hour.

Payment by cheque or credit card is very acceptable. Telephone 01951 200320 to book.

Kevin Byrne colonsaybyrne@gmail.com


We also have a wee site here: colonsayguide.co.uk

You can book your accommodation at www.colonsay.eu but if we leave the EU use our mirror-site www.colonsay.online