Coll, like other Hebridean islands, has several crannógs (artificial islands) located in some of its lochans. One such crannóg is Dùn Amhlaidh Location which is thought to date to at least the later Middle Ages. Local tradition states that the dun was the fortress of a Norse chieftain who was defeated in battle by the Macleans.
There are two castles, both at Breachacha and at the head of the bay of the same name. The earlier castle dates from the 14th century and both castles are family homes and NOT open to the public. They make for a formidable sight but please respect the families' privacy.
Coll is also known by the fictional name of the Isle of Struay. Mairi Hedderwick, a well know author and illustrator, set her series of children's books around her experiences on Coll. She still lives and works on the island but she will never tell if any of her fictional characters were for real! You can visit many parts of Coll and recognise Struay from her beautiful illustrations.
Coll welcomes visitors and without doubt, Coll is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination - despite the fact that there is almost no where to stay and nothing to do once here!
Coll is very small with a tiny infrastructure that sometimes struggles when there is a large influx of visitors. If you wish to experience something quite unique and make the journey to Coll we hope you'll find a warm welcome but you will need to book accommodation early to avoid disappointment. The lack of accommodation ensures the island is quiet and you will probably have one of the many beaches all to yourselves. If not, you could always move to the next beach.
Today's travellers are, without doubt, more demanding than ever with some expecting to find every mainland convenience. Unfortunately, that isn't the case.
Coll has, for example, no visitor points; no tourist information; no interpretation panels to ruin the landscape; no theme parks; next to no sign posts; no mobile phone coverage (except a few spots, and then only sometimes); no public transport of any sort; no McDonald's, TESCO or Apple Store etc. (and long may it remain that way); no policeman; no traffic lights; no street lights; no parking meters; the worst road surfaces you are likely to find in the UK; the most expensive diesel and petrol in the UK; and often - nowhere to go whilst it rains.
This isn't said to put anyone off, it's said because there are a few who arrive with no idea of what there isn't, and we wouldn't wish anyone to leave disappointed.
What Coll does have is quite special and often quite intangible. Coll definitely has lots of wild, raw nature that thrives due to the solitude. It is this that brings many to our island and, perhaps, that is why you too should consider coming to somewhere where there is still, even in this day and age, absolutely 'nothing'.
To assist you doing nothing, it is suggested you bring, or buy when you get here, an Ordnance Survey map ( Explorer Map 372, Coll and Tiree). It'll help you get around and find the quieter spots.
Coll and the neighbouring island of Tiree, being so close, obviously get compared. I wouldn't dream of suggesting which is better (although there is a clear winner!) but the comparison, by seeing for yourself, can make for an interesting trip. The topography, habitats, beaches and even the communities are quite different.
One point that may be of help, Coll beaches are generally hidden from the road and need to be walked to. If you're not very mobile then you may find Tiree beaches (although obviously second class to ours...) easier to explore.
Attractions and Activities on the Isle of Coll
The Isle of Coll isn't geared up for 'attractions and activities' as you may know on the mainland or larger islands such as Mull or Skye. Coll is back to basics and back to nature.
The only organised activities are a weekly (summer only) guided walk by the RSPB warden and sailing with the Coll Sailing Club where visitors are most welcome - more here.
If you're looking for anything other than 'there is nothing to do' you may, unfortunately, be looking at the wrong island.
To assist you in your activity-free holiday the island also has no tourist information centre or interpretation panels to help hold your hand - or spoil the landscape. This is how everywhere was once upon a time, and the people of Coll like to keep it this way.
The only "guides" are three identical diplay panels, one at the Calmac Pier office, another at the middle pier in Arinagour (by the toilets) and the final one by the hotel entrance and re-cycling centre. Here you will see a detailed map of Coll showing the popular beaches and other places of interest.
There is one leaflet called 'I Love Coll' which has been prodced by local talent. It is available for free pickup at many places including the CalMac pier office, post office and hotel.