The isle of Coll is a small Hebridean island situated some ten kilometres west of Mull.
It is a holiday destination for many, especially those seeking peace and quiet and who enjoy nature and the natural beauty of the Hebrides.
Please take some time to explore our website. Here you will find everything you need to know about our beautiful island, how to get here, where to stay and what to do when you are here.
Why not check out this recent blog: ‘Glorious Coll – The Isle with Scotland’s Best Beaches?’ from the Welcome to Scotland website?
All photographs copyright: Allan McKechnie, Isle of Coll Photographics unless otherwise stated.
NEW for 2018…
Heather & Tom are proud to introduce Isle of Coll Lamb direct from Toraston Farm….
Check out our artisan section for more information.
Coll Bird Festival
18th/19th/20th May 2018
Is the corncrake your nemesis? Has your best sighting just been a fleeting glance and you didn’t get that photo? Did you know that the best place to see the corncrake, along with a host of other fantastic and often rare wildlife, is the Isle of Coll? And, the best time of year is late April to mid-May which is why we host Coll Bird Festival at this time of year.
Over the course of a 3-day weekend, Coll Bird Festival (in partnership with the local RSPB reserve) offers a variety of guided walks, boat trips, and talks. The ever popular puffin trips to Lunga are back and new, for 2018, is a boat trip to Tiree, a hunt for sand lizards and/or short-necked oil beetles, and an opportunity to listen to the enchanting night-time song of Coll at our dusk-watch. We also host a ceilidh and organise a beach clean with BBQ to finish off the weekend. Visitors can book a package deal or pick and choose individual events.
For 2018 we are pleased to be offering the following:
- New ‘Off the Beaten Track’ walk led by 2 local RSPB staff (Friday) – 2 walk tokens, or £10 – for 2018 the RSPB team have created an exciting new walk which will showcase more of the Coll bird life than has been seen in previous years and let you see parts of Coll that the average visitor will never see. This is a longer walk, estimated at 4 hours, although not difficult and you will not be walking for 4 hours. Guests should plan to take a packed lunch with them.
- Walk Arinagour (Saturday) – 1 x walk token, or £5 – is back and lets you explore Coll’s only village, where the different landscape, from the bay to the trees, offers habitat for birds not commonly seen elsewhere on the island.
- Dusk-watch (Friday) – 1 x walk token, or £5 – come and hear the enchanting night-time song of Coll. Spend time on the RSPB reserve enhancing your identification skills by listening to the magnificent dusk chorus, a true rival (on Coll at least) to the better known dawn chorus.
- Boat trips (Saturday/Sunday) – £45 (Tiree trip requires a small additional sum for the tour bus) – our popular guided boat trips are back again, and the firm favourite, the puffin, is on the programme again with our trips to Lunga. For 2018, we are also visiting Tiree, our neighbouring island. It may surprise you, but Tiree and Coll are very different and you’ll enjoy the variety if you choose this trip, which will be led by Tiree’s RSPB warden.
- The Hunt (Saturday) – 1 x walk token, or £5 – included in the programme as one of the walks, weather permitting there will be an RSPB-led hunt to find the sand lizard and short-necked oil beetle. The short-necked oil beetle was thought to be extinct until it was discovered by the local RSPB manager on Coll (and also at a site in South Devon).
- Talks (Friday/Saturday) – £5 (includes all 3 talks) – over the course of the weekend there will be 3 talks on a variety of bird-life and wildlife-based topics.
- Ceilidh (Saturday) – £10 – offering a chance to unwind and enjoy some traditional Scottish music (and dancing)
- Beach Clean (Sunday) – the beach clean is a great way to wind up the weekend and make a contribution to Coll which, being on the Atlantic, naturally ‘collects’ debris from all over the world. You never know what interesting items you might find.
To receive a full copy of the programme please email email@example.com
As part of the Bird Festival there will be a substantial buffet (with bar) prior to the Saturday evening talk (booking required). Tickets are £12.
Both the Island Cafe and Coll Hotel serve lunches and evening meals and both use a variety of local produce as part of their menu. If your events take place over lunchtime you have the option of an early lunch at the Island Cafe, or you can book a packed lunch from the Coll Hotel and Tigh na Mara Guesthouse.
Seabird Safari Boat Trips
Lunga is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of its abundant plant life. Many rare and endangered plants are native to the island. The flora includes Primroses, Birdsfoot Trefoil, orchids, Sea Campion, Thrift and Tormentil. Atlantic Grey seals inhabit the waters surrounding the island while birdlife includes Storm Petrels, Kittiwakes and Manx Shearwaters. Guillemot, Puffin, Corncrake and Razorbills breed on Lunga and on the Harp Rock, a sea stack separated by a narrow gut, which you can walk to on your visit. A trip through the Sound of Gunna provides the opportunity to see as variety of sea birds, stunning scenery and the possibility of seeing dolphins.
Most visitors take advantage of the puffin-therapy afforded by a trip to Lunga, where you can sit within a few feet of these iconic little sea-parrots and watch them interact. Lunga attracts over 2000 breeding pairs of puffins within a small area on a grassy plateau overlooking the sea, which makes for a fantastic spectacle.
For 2018 we have added a trip to Tiree which will be guided by Tiree’s RSPB warden. After enjoying the wildlife on the way past Gunna and down to Tiree, you will disembark and be taken by private bus to Loch a’ Phuill to view the wildlife of Tiree, which is quite different from Coll, if not always in species, at least in numbers.
Please note that guests on our boat trips should be comfortable with walking over rough terrain and prepared to access the vessel via a series of steps or a ladder, depending on tide conditions. Please contact us if you have any concerns over accessibility and we will be happy to help.
Accommodation on Coll
Accommodation is available at Coll Bunkhouse, which has 16 beds available from £22pppn.
Further accommodation is available in the village of Arinagour at the Coll Hotel, Tigh na Mara Guest House and Dun Fraoch B&B. A full list of accommodation options on Coll, including self-catering properties, is available here: Visit Coll.
Costs, Further Info & How to Book
A number of events are run over the course of the weekend and customers can choose individual events or a package rate.
For visitors booking accommodation at Coll Bunkhouse there is a discount of 10% on bookings of 3 nights or more.
Package rate: £68 (£60 for RSPB Members). This includes 3 x walk tokens (equiv. ~ 2 hours each), 1 x boat trip, 1 x ceilidh ticket and entry to the talks. For walks, you can choose from the new RSPB-led ‘off the beaten track’ walk (2 tokens), the duskwatch (1 token), Arinagour walk (1 token) or the Big Hunt (1 token).
To register interest, please call Coll Bunkhouse on 01879 230217 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport – Getting to/from/around Coll
For a handy guide to getting to Coll, look no further than the Coll page on the Caledonian MacBrayne website which offers advice on travelling to Coll by car or public transport: Calmac Info on Coll.
For those of you arriving by public transport and/or without your own vehicles we will provide options for transport to/from events using local transport providers which will involve a small fee. Please contact us for further details.
Once again the Coll Bird Festival is brought to you in partnership with one of Scotland’s leading organisations. We’re very grateful for the support of the variety of people who help us to organise this event. Please use the links below to read more about the work of our partner organisations.
John McLaren, a previous visitor to Coll Bird Festival, has very kindly combined some video excerpts from his time on Coll and Lunga. Other than the boat trip to Lunga it doesn’t feature the other Bird Festival events, but it gives you a real flavour of Coll and what you might expect from a visit:
The Screen Machine is bringing us Edie and Peter Rabbit but, for the Monday 5:30pm showing, we have a choice:
The Greatest Showman (might be able to get the sing-a-long version if anyone fancies it)
Avengers: Infinity War
Isle of Dog (an animation for adults and kids)
If you have a preference, either vote (for as many films as you like) via An Cridhe’s Facebook page, or drop us an email: email@example.com
Development Coll is not involved with the Screen Machine, other than it using the car park at An Cridhe, but they are happy to take customer suggestions and on this occasion gave us a few choices.
Annual Fishing Competition
Prize Night and Ceilidh Dance
Saturday 21st July
Bar opens at 8pm along with the dancing
Wednesday July 25th starting at 7pm
COLL HALF MARATHON 2018
A great day out for all the family!
The Coll Half Marathon has become an important annual event on the Isle of Coll, with most of the locals involved in running this very popular day… All on an entirely voluntary basis. Many runners return each year, not just to challenge themselves as they enjoy the stunning views on this beautiful island, but also to have a fabulous Coll weekend!
An Cridhe, the island’s community centre is the hub of activity for the day. Non participants can spend the afternoon here with a great vantage point for cheering the runners on as they reach their first kilometre and later, welcoming them across the finish line!
Great food and drink will be available during the afternoon and evening and, once the runners are home and refreshed it’s time to Ceilidh, Coll style… An Cridhe will be bouncing with live music. Don’t worry if you don’t know the dances. You will soon pick them up and there will be plenty of people happy to help!
After an energetic happy Saturday and a well deserved good night’s sleep, you can enjoy a cooked breakfast at An Cridhe before the Sunday ferry back to the mainland… But, be warned, you will not want to leave this very special place!
Coll & The Cosmos
6th/7th October 2018
Coll & The Cosmos is a stargazing weekend break on the Isle of Coll which makes the most of the island’s incredible dark sky. The break has been specifically designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. No prior knowledge of astronomy is needed; we’ll bring you the best of the night sky in a way that is fun and easily understandable.
Coll & The Cosmos is a collaboration between Coll Bunkhouse and Cosmos Planetarium. We use state of the art technology to deliver an amazing stargazing learning experience in a fantastic location. Our 6 metre indoor planetarium is a fully digital, 360° immersive multi-media theatre experience, ideal for taking a journey through the solar system and learning about a range of astronomical subjects.
In 2017 we added a ground-breaking immersive virtual reality session. See the scale of the universe from inside an atom to the edge of known space. Also, travel to the Moon with Apollo 11 – be part of the greatest journey ever taken by humankind.
We also offer an array of different astronomical equipment to use, from simple binoculars to large astronomical telescopes with ‘Goto’ and wireless Bluetooth capabilities. If you have your own telescope, bring it along and we’ll show you how to get the best use from it. During the day, we can offer solar observing with close-up views of the sun and its flares, filaments and sun-spots, using our dedicated Hydrogen Alpha and white light solar telescopes.
By night, Coll has a naturally unpolluted starry sky – equivalent to Death Valley National Park in the USA – which make it perfect for stargazing. With a sky that dark, many deep sky objects can be seen with the naked eye. Some of these include star clusters like the ‘Beehive’ & ‘Double Cluster’, nebulae like the ‘Great Orion Nebula’ and the ‘Andromeda Galaxy’. The bright band of the Milky Way can also be easily seen arching over the night sky at certain times of the year.
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. We are very fortunate on Coll to have such a unique natural environment which makes it such a fantastic location for stargazing. To provide a little context to the meaning of this award, the Isle of Coll was:
• the 1st Dark Sky Community, and Island, – in Scotland
• the 22nd Dark Sky Place to be designated – in the world.
Cosmos Planetarium are based in central Scotland but have collaborated with Coll Bunkhouse to deliver this experience in a location which can truly be described as top-class when it comes to stargazing.
You can read more about the work of Coll’s Dark Sky group, efforts to minimise light pollution on the island and the application to the International Dark-Sky Association using the following link: Coll – A Dark-Sky Island.
Coll & the Cosmos is a two-day astronomical voyage of discovery, with approximately 10 hours of learning and stargazing activities delivered by our expert astronomers.No other stargazing short break in the UK offers as wide a range of astronomical equipment, practical hands on instruction in using telescopes and developing observing techniques, combined with the awesome experience of time inside our fully digital immersive planetarium.
With the planetarium, even if it’s cloudy during your stay, we can still give you a virtual tour of the night sky, exactly as it should look that evening. All of this takes place on the Isle of Coll, a real hidden gem amongst Scotland’s Hebridean islands. Now not only can you discover the beauty of the island itself but also experience the wonders of the night sky under some of the darkest sky in Europe.
You can view the full timetable for the weekend here: Course Content
The course is run subject to minimum numbers (8 people).
Cost & Further Information
The course costs £90 for adults and £75 for young people (12 – 17 years). There is a discounted price of £81 per adult, £67 per young person (12 – 17 years) if booked and paid for two months in advance. Accommodation is available at Coll Bunkhouse, from £21 per person per night. Alternative accommodation is available just a few minutes walk away including the Coll Hotel, Tigh na Mara and Dun Fraoch Bed & Breakfasts. Further self-catering accommodation can be found here.
Cancellation policy: if you wish to cancel your attendance on the course, please note that cancellations must be made at least 28 days in advance of the course start date or payment cannot be refunded.
This is an informal course and is first and foremost intended to be fun and as flexible as possible regarding the level of the content. We strongly believe astronomy and science in general should be as accessible as possible for everyone.
Lots of people get telescopes as gifts but never learn how to use them properly, feel free to bring along any equipment you have and we will endeavour to show you how to get the best out of it.
During the evening observing sessions, if the sky is clear remember that it can be very cold so please make sure you pack appropriate winter clothing.
To make the most of the clear sky the evening observing sessions can of course be extended. Both James and Steven are very passionate about everything to do with the night sky and will be spending a considerable amount of their nights on Coll looking up!