An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Bike ride on Coll

Cycling on Coll– try the glorious bike route around Coll’s coastal circuit and tranquil roads to see the best the island has to offer. Bring your own bike on the CalMac ferry or hire a bike from the Coll Post Office (9am – 1pm Monday to Saturday) where booking advisable – tel: 01879 230395. Bike Tours are available on a Tuesday and Thursday at 1pm with a local guide. Tours last approximately three hours and cost £10. To book, contact Carol on 01879 230436.

Walking on Coll – Coll is a rugged island with superb sandy beaches, huge dune systems, RSPB reserve, rich machair flower meadows, moors and farmland and offers plenty of opportunity for some beautiful walks. You can walk and wander around and across most of the island with plenty of footpaths to the many beautiful beaches. Inland, Crannogs can be found on many of the lochs and their is plenty of historic ruins to discover. Here are some great routes.

Sea kayaking – with many suitable overnight beaches, or even islands, to stop at and wild camp and skerries and inlets to explore kayaking around Coll is a journey through spectacular wildlife and unspoilt wilderness for those with experience. Calmac ferrys carry kayaks free of charge. With the right experience, or with a guide, it is possible to paddle over from Mull or the Treshnish Isles. Kayaks and paddleboards can be hired on the island from Collactive to explore Arinagour Bay.

IsleGo – offers a range of services from whale watching day trips to charters for travel and leisure. Visit Staffa and the Treshnish Isles, Tobermory, the Isle of Muck and the Cairns of Coll. The boat trips are also great for whale-watching and spotting porpoise, dolphin and basking sharks. They also run shopping trips to Tiree, Tobermory and Oban and retaurant trips to the Boathouse on Ulva www.theboathouseulva.co.uk; the Isle of Muck Craft and Tea Room www.isleofmuck.com; and the Cafe Fish, Tobermory www.thecafefish.com

Star gazing – Coll is the only Scottish island to have been awarded International Dark Sky Community status by the International Dark-Sky Association. Its naturally unpolluted starry sky, equivalent to Death Valley National Park in the USA, makes it perfect for stargazing. In December 2013, Coll was officially designated as a ‘Dark-Sky Community’ by the International Dark-Sky Association, on account of its dark sky and commitment to minimising light pollution. It was the first Dark Sky Community, and Island in Scotland. Each year the Cosmos Planetarium collaborate with Coll Bunkhouse to deliver an amazing stargazing course, Coll and the Cosmos. Over a two day course you’ll get practical hands on instruction in using telescopes and developing observing techniques – all led by expert astronomers. On cloudy nights there’s a fully digital immersive planetarium to ensure that you can continue your astronomical journey of discover. Star clusters like the ‘Beehive’ & ‘Double Cluster’, nebulae, the ‘Great Orion Nebula’, ‘Andromeda Galaxy’ and the bright band of the Milky Way can be seen with the naked eye, with the rings of Saturn and other far-flung planets experienced through the lens of one of the wide-range of astronomical equipment on offer.

Birdwatching – go on a birdwatching walk with the resident RSPB warden (call  01879 230301). Find out more about the birds on the island here.

 

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