An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Distance: 44.2 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Bike
Wow Factor: 10 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Inner Hebrides, Scotland
  • Size: 7,685 hectares
  • Terrain: Minor island roads (optional sandy tracks)
  • Access: CalMac Ferry from Oban or Tiree
  • Height gain: 561 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer 372
  • Starting point: Ferry pier (GR NM 2258 5617)
  • Accommodation/food:

    Accommodation on Coll offers some great options, including small farm campsite, excellent bunkhouse, a great hotel and stunning wild beach camping. Check these out here.

    Arinagour is the only place on the route for food. Try the friendly Island cafe for delicious home-made food and the excellent restaurant at the Coll Hotel, the island’s only hotel and pub.

  • Island Summary:

    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.

    The main village of Arinagour is close to the ferry port and is home to a great Hotel, bar, cafe, shop, Community Centre and Coll Bunkhouse.

    There is plenty to do on the island and as a Dark Sky Reserve, the milky way and other constellations can be viewed from doorsteps right in the heart of the village.

    Coll is laden with wildlife and is cited as the best place in Britain to spot a corncrake. There are also extremely rare bumblebees foraging the wonderful, colourful machair and 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.

  • Look out for:
    • Corncrakes
    • Wild flower-stacked machair
    • Spot basking sharks & other rich marine life
    • Views to the peaks of Mull, Outer Hebrides and remote islands
  • Route description:

    This bike ride on Coll follows the peaceful lanes around the outside edge of Coll with an optional visit to Crossapol Bay and a road extension to Sorisdale Beach at the northern tip. To complete the circuit the link between the B8070 and B8071 (west of Arinagour) uses the footpaths of the Totronald RSPB Reserve where it is necessary to push your bike for a short distance along the sandy footpath.

    The bike ride is an island circuit that starts at the ferry port at Arinagour and heads across the moorland on the B8070 above the south coast, passed the airport to the junction with a minor road. A left turn offers an optional sandy trail south to the stunning Crossapol Bay. The round island ride turns north, through the Totronald RSPB Reserve to meet the B8071 and continues passed the island high point of Ben Hogh.

    Continuing to the B8072 there are plenty of options to take the various footpaths to explore the beautiful sandy bays of the north coast before reaching Sorisdale Beach for great views out to the Small Isles. The ride then retraces steps to the B8071 across the peatlands to return to Arinagour.

  • Getting there:

    Getting to the Isle of Coll is mainly via the regular Calmac Ferry service.

    Ferry – most people travel to Coll on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry from Mainland or Tiree. Air – Coll has an airstrip is situated at the west end of the island with flights operated by Hebridean Air Services. Own steam – visiting yachts are welcome, it is possible to charter a boat from Coll or the mainland  and 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! More detailed information here.

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Everything you need to know about visiting the Isle of Coll

Planning a trip to Coll and the island highlights

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Outdoor activities on Coll

Discover bike routes, coastal walks, stargazing, island tours and sea kayaking on Coll

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Island high point on Coll

Walk up Ben Hogh

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Wildlife on Coll

Spot rare birds, marine life and plants

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Beaches on Coll

There are thirty beaches to choose from

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Island food on Coll

Tuck into the best island food on Coll

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Island accommodation on Coll

Check into some great island accommodation

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Getting to the Isle of Coll

How to get to Coll

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