The Hebridean island of Coll may be small – just 13 miles long by three miles wide with a population of around 120 – but it’s packed with surprises, from incredible wildlife to stunning beaches. Sitting some six miles west of Mull, this wild Atlantic isle also has a thriving community. You’ll find a host of events taking place throughout the year and a rich and varied cultural life. Visitors to Coll can easily head off the beaten track and discover some real hidden gems. Here are out top five.
Coll RSPB Nature Reserve
Much of western Coll is an RSPB reserve and you can spot a huge variety of birds here. Did you know Coll is the best place in the UK to see the rare and elusive corncrake? This nature reserve is a key site in the Corncrake Recovery Programme and a haven for wintering geese, breeding waders and farmland birds. The visitor centre at Totronald is a great introduction to the birdlife of Coll. From here, take a stroll through corncrake country down to explore Hogh Bay. And don’t miss the Coll Bird Festival, which takes place on the 8th, 9th and 10th May 2010. Over the course of a 3-day weekend, guests are treated to guided walks, guided sea-safaris to neighbouring islands and evening talks by a range of experts.
An Cridhe means ‘the heart’, and this community centre sits at the heart of life on Coll. It’s a multi-purpose facility that caters for the many different needs of islanders and visitors, offering a welcoming space to read, relax and play games. You can enjoy a cup of tea and view Coll's 'Then and Now' gallery, catch up with emails, play sports, and visit the gym (an honesty box system is in place). Enjoy the Saturday market from March to October or visit during the week to shop for a variety of products made on Coll produce, including jewellery, art, clothing and more.
Coll hosts a variety of events throughout the year and visitors are always welcome to join in. It’s a great way to have some fun and meet the locals. From local fundraising events and the agricultural show, to jazz and chamber music, to astronomy weekends and a half marathon, the island’s annual event programme is hugely diverse. All of the events inevitably end with dancing the night away at a ceilidh!
The Lighthouse Gallery
Make sure you visit the Lighthouse Gallery in Aringour, where you’ll discover a permanent exhibition of original work by Coll artist Kip Poulson, who lives and works there. His work captures the dramatic beauty of the island and the simplicity of its way of life. He works in both watercolours and oils, and his major interest is in the play of light on landscape and water.
RecyColl is a recycling group runs a range of community recycling, energy efficiency and environmental projects on Coll. Visitors to the island are often excited to discover the RecyColl second hand shop. This shop is a treasure trove of recycled goods including clothing, household and entertainment items. As well as hunting out some bargains, it’s also a good place to find out about some of RecyColl's other activities – from beach cleans to glass imploding – and how you can get involved.
These are just five hidden gems on the island of Coll. There are many more waiting to be discovered by you!
Find out more about things to see and do on Coll.