Balnahard beach, Isle of Colonsay: A magical beauty spot with thousands of years of history

The white sand beach of Balnahard, on the Isle of Colonsay, is as fascinating as it is beautiful.

The white-sand beaches of Inner Hebridean Colonsay are hardly crowded, even in summer, but Tràigh Bàn or Balnahard, being a sheltered bay that little bit further from the beaten track, is very special.

The 3½-mile walk across the machair from An Crosan takes you past a healing well used by 6th-century St Columba, a Gruagach Stone (leave an offering of milk and the ancient fairy queen will watch over your cattle), a Bronze Age house and Iron Age fort.

Old, wrecked ship’s timbers emerge from the sands at Balnahard Beach, Isle of Colonsay.

Time your arrival at beautiful Balnahard to low tide for a glimpse of the remains of wooden steamship SS Wasa, which was beached in 1920 after a fire. Its timbers and cast-iron hull still jut dramatically from the sand. The view past Mull and the Firth of Lorne to Jura is equally impressive.

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