An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Arinagour harbour

Coll is a real hidden gem of the Hebrides that sits 6.5 km to the west of Mull. It is a low lying island of gnarly rocks poking through grass and heather, with high dunes and incredible machair lining the west coast. The high point, Ben Hogh, offers wonderful views of the island and the peaks of the Outer Hebrides and Mull. There are thirty beaches on the island ranging from secluded coves to sweeping white-sandy bays, most of which can be reached from the road.

Coll’s 150 or so super-friendly residents are dotted around the island with the main village being close to the ferry port at Arinagour. Here there are simply breathtaking views towards the Isle of Mull and the Treshnish Isles. Coll boasts some great food and accommodation with plenty of activities at the Community Centre and Coll Bunkhouse. By day Coll has some of the highest sunshine hours in the UK and by night, as a Dark Sky Reserve, the milky way and other constellations can be viewed from doorsteps right in the heart of the village.

With quiet, tranquil lanes around the whole island it is a great place to explore by bike, which can be hired at the Post Office, including the around island bike route.

Coll is laden with wildlife which draws people to the island to see the spectacle of large numbers of birds amassing during migrations or to spot the rare Corncrake at the large RSPB reserve which is often cited as the best place in Britain to spot it. There’s also extremely rare bumblebees foraging the extraordinarily colourful machair. Marine life is bountiful in the relatively pristine seas around the island – a breeding ground for basking sharks with plenty of whales and dolphins to spot from the shore or with a boat trip from Arinagour.

This island has it all really – and it’s easily reached with a regular CalMac ferry service and is a popular holiday destination for those seeking peace and quiet, and those who enjoy nature and the natural beauty of the Hebrides.

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