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As Oban and the Scottish mainland recede into the distance, relax and enjoy the sail along the coastline of the Isle of Mull and further into the Atlantic. You may even spot a white-tailed eagle soaring high in the sky. Your first glimpse of the Isle of Coll gives an inkling of why the locals proudly proclaim it as “the island with nothing to do”. The ferry jetty lies a little outside the small settlement of Arinagour, so you are greeted by rocky, heather-clad hills and small inlets, with barely a man-made structure in sight.
Run by the same family for many years, the traditional and welcoming hotel nestles at the end of the harbour bay, with lawns sweeping down to the water’s edge and expansive views to faraway islands: an idyllic spot to enjoy a pre-dinner aperitif on your Coll holiday. The bar inside is the main gathering and chattering point for locals and visitors, the walls adorned with black and white photos of the place and its people. A great deal of care and attention goes into the restaurant menu, with seasonally-changing local produce, especially seafood. The hotel provides bikes so you can head off and explore for the day, or just ask for tips on the many local walks – be prepared to stray from the roads. Packed lunches are available – perhaps featuring the most delicious fresh prawns or crab in chunky brown bread. As night falls – which may be close to midnight in the height of summer – grab the thoughtfully provided “glow in the dark skyscope” and gaze in wonder at the vista of distant stars, unspoilt by any light pollution.
To help you to explore and uncover the island, you will spend half a day with a local guide on a private four wheel drive tour of Coll – visiting far-flung spots and many beaches, enjoying views across to neighbouring isles and learning about the history and culture of the island. You will certainly hear stories of the residents who have chosen to make Coll their home – from entrepreneurs to retired rugby stars – and you may have the chance to meet and chat with some of the local characters.
The rest of your time is yours to fill, but remember there is not much to do! A handful of single track roads intersect in the middle of the island, but there is no well-trodden network of footpaths: the islanders prefer you to find your own way and your own unique experience. To the North you’ll come across picturesque coves, with azure waters and pink-hued boulders, whilst the South possesses miles of sweeping sands, dunes and machair (coastal meadow) – 23 beaches in total at the last count, none of them busy save for seals, otters, rabbits and perhaps some stray cattle or shaggy Hebridean sheep. As you explore, look out for crannogs – man-made island dwellings – dotted on the small lochs, as well as remains of ancient civilisations and more recently deserted communities. If you’ve got energy to spare, climb to the top of Ben Hogh for views of Scottish islands stretching as far as Jura across Tiree in one direction and the Outer Hebrides in the other.
Time to leave rugged Coll in your wake for the one hour ferry crossing to neighbouring Tiree. The contrast is soon apparent, as the ferry docks on the edge of the main settlement of Scarinish – already there is more hustle and bustle, on this more populated and low-lying island.
Home for the next thee nights, your sturdy Victorian guest house nestles on the windswept north coast, in a peaceful rural setting. The interior is cosy and modern, with a super conservatory lounge where you can browse books and local information, or just soak up the island views. It’s a short drive if you wish to eat out, though you are equally welcome to bring in your own snacks and drinks – glasses, crockery, cutlery and a small fridge are all to hand. You’ll find homemade biscuits in your room, and Alison particularly prides herself on the breakfast menu – spoilt for choice from full Scottish to Kirkapol toast (Tiree eggy bread) plus plenty of fresh fruit and lighter options too. A 30 minute walk along the coastline will bring you to the ancient cup-marked Ringing Stone – strike it with a smaller stone to hear the mysterious metallic clang.
Be prepared to be buffeted during your stay on Tiree – lying low in the Atlantic, this Scottish island is one of the windiest in Europe, yet also boasts one of the best sunshine records in the UK, due to long summer days and clouds just scudding swiftly onwards. Remarkably different from its close neighbour, Coll, here you’ll find fertile agricultural land and miles of long, easily accessible sandy beaches. You’ll be entranced by the colourful and skillful windsurfers and kitesurfers – lessons available if you are feeling adventurous on your Tiree holiday! Discover the cultural history at An Iodhlann, the heritage centre, in the main town of Scarinish – from pre-historic finds to tales of shipwreck and emigration, from innovation in building to the crucial role played by this far-flung outpost in the Second World War D-Day Landings. Take a drive to Hynish, the shore station for the Skerryvore lighthouse. Do visit the unmanned exhibitions within the complex – just push open the door and lights come on, but please drop a few coins in the honesty box. It took seven years from 1838 and great engineering talent to construct the elegant Skerryvore tower, which stands guard to this day on a rocky outcrop twelve miles distant.
Return home via the ferry back to Oban, likely debating which of the Atlantic Island Twins you will choose as your favourite.
Three nights on the Isle of Coll and three nights on the Isle of Tiree in the Scottish Hebrides.
£625 per person for April & October and £665 for May to September.
The price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin ensuite room for six nights on a bed & breakfast basis. This includes ferry travel from Oban to Coll, Coll to Tiree and Tiree to Oban for car and passengers, as well as a half day private tour with local guide on Coll.
Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions, recommended routes, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.
We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
Heather McKinlay in search of family roots and food on the Hebridean island of Tiree. It’s a strange feeling when you have never been somewhere bef...
This holiday is available from April through October.
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.
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