An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

CalMac

Ferry – most people travel to Coll on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry. In the summer there are daily sailings from Oban, five sailings per week from Tiree and one from Barra. In the winter there are five sailings per week from Oban and Tiree.  The boat travels to Tiree on many other days enabling links with their air service or a hopscotch approach to island travel. The journey from Oban takes about 2 hours 40 mins, from Tiree 55 minutes and from Barra abuot 4 hours.

Coll’s ferry teminal is close to Arinagour,   01879 230347

The cruise itself is a beautiful experience gliding down the Sound of Mull, past Tobermory and then Ardnamurchan Point (the most westerly tip of the UK’s mainland) for a short crossing in more open sea to Coll.

In the summer, the chances of spotting dolphins, whales and basking sharks are quite high and amongst the wealth of bird life you may see shearwaters, petrels and perhaps a white-tailed eagle.

There are summer ferry sailings allowing day trips from Coll to Tiree on Wednesday and Saturday; and a link to and from Barra (via Tiree), once per week on a Wednesday. There is even a Calmac Hopscotch supplement for those wishing to combine Coll/Tiree with an outer isles experience.

Air – Coll has an airstrip is situated at the west end of the island with flights operated by Hebridean Air Services bookings on 0845 805 7465. Scheduled flights operate on Wednesdays only. The morning flight runs from Oban to Coll then back to Oban via Tiree and the afternoon flight runs from Oban via Tiree to Coll before returning to Oban. The runway is unlit and flying is governed by visibility. There are additional flights for High School kids to return for the weekend. During the summer the timetable flights are Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, in the winter the flights run on a Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.  Seats are available (for anyone) on the flights to pick up the school kids and these are often offered at reduced prices – contact Hebridean Air Services for times and availability.  Depending on the number of school kids travelling, seats may be available both ways, so it is always worth asking about availability. Light planes and helicopters often come to Coll, usually landing at Coll airstrip. There are no facilities at the airstrip other than a payphone, a waiting room and a toilet. To land at the airport please contact Oban Airport for permission   01631 572910.

Own steam – visiting yachts are welcome with 12 moorings and plenty of suitable anchorages in Arinagour Harbour, all limited to maximum vessel GRT of 10 tonnes and based on a first come basis. There are no yacht facilities but toilets, showers and shops are available in Arinagour. Owned by Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd (CMAL), the charge is £12/night payable at the Coll Hotel, an honesty box on the middle pier or Calmac ferry office.

It is possible to charter a boat from Coll (IsleGO) Tiree (Tiree Sea Tours) or the mainland (Coastal Connections, Oban).

It is also possible to sea kayak, but it’s not recommended for the inexperienced.

On the island  – there is no official taxi service or any public transport but most islanders will offer you a lift if you ask nicely!

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