Coll and Tiree are two little jewels basking in the Hebridean Sea. Steeped in the romantic legends and tangled history of the western isles, they abound with natural wonders, abundant wildlife and ancient remains. Offering peace, tranquillity and spiritual calm, they can also be wildly invigorating as the machair (coastal meadowland) comes alive during the summer months with myriad varieties of wild flowers creating a colourful carpet along the shoreline.
Just as in the old song, we sail from Oban, passing Tobermory and on to Coll. From our base in comfortable and friendly guesthouse accommodation we will explore a few of Coll’s unspoilt beaches of glistening white sand and some of the ancient cairns and Iron Age forts that litter the island. We also visit the RSPB reserve, which includes a growing resident population of corncrakes.
A short passage takes us on to Tiree, renowned as one of the sunniest places in Britain. There are many more wonderful beaches, machair and monuments to be found here and we will also visit the Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum, which records the building of Britain’s tallest lighthouse.
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- Ferry crossings
7 July 2020: Itinerary
We depart from our designated pick up points and head for the West of Scotland, travelling via Loch Lomond and the mountain pass known as the ‘Rest and Be Thankful’, stopping en route for refreshments (not included). On arrival in Oban we will board the mid-afternoon ferry for the island of Coll. Sailing up the Sound of Mull look out for the mountains of Morvern to our right and the brightly painted houses of Tobermory to our left. We will arrive in the little harbour of Arinagour (pronounced Arna-Gooer) early evening and transfer to our hotel in time for dinner.
Meals include: Dinner
Hotel: The Coll Hotel
After our full Scottish breakfast we will depart for a tour of the island where along the way we shall see some of the beaches of white sparkling sand bordered by vast areas of ‘machair’ (seashore flower meadows). Machair flowers come and go in phases through the growing months with purples, yellows and whites punctuating the rich greens of the turf. Some time looking closely will reveal more than is obvious at first glance. We will also get an insight into some of the island’s history when it was inhabited by a larger population. Relics of the island’s long habitation can be difficult to pick out against the oldest rocks in Scotland, Lewissian Gneiss but the mysterious standing stones, Na Sgialachan [The Tellers of Tales] are obvious close to the RSPB Reserve and Visitor Centre at Totronald in the South West corner of the island, which we will also visit.
The reserve was established to help protect the Corncrake, which comes to Coll to breed from April to August. The numbers of calling males has risen from 10 to over 130 in the last 5 years. Here, the typical Hebridean habitat of white shell sand beaches, sand dunes and machair is also home to Lapwings and Redshanks and also skeins of winter barnacle and white fronted geese.
With a population of less than 200 year round inhabitants, the gentle peace and serenity of this island is unparalleled.
A packed lunch is included today.
All meals included
Hotel: The Coll Hotel
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to the harbour in time for the mid-morning ferry to Scarinish, on the island of Tiree. We will then make our way to our hotel, with the remainder of the day fee to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet of the island.
Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner
Hotel: The Scarinish Hotel
Today, after our full Scottish breakfast, we will tour Tiree, passing through the small crofting townships where some of the distinctive speckled cottages remain. This wonderfully fertile island with low impact agriculture is a partner to the natural world. We will stop along the way to take some time to enjoy the peace of Tiree and to see what can be spotted in the ocean or to take more time to look at the bird life and enjoy the birdsong. Many small songbirds like skylarks stay all year round living happily around the houses that are scattered across the island. Basking sharks are commonly spotted around the coast and if we are lucky some dolphins may appear.
Around half the island’s inhabitants speak Gaelic and so it is no wonder many folk tales abound which you will hear on your journey. Tiree, like Coll, was settled early in Scotland’s history and at one time had a population of nearly 5000 inhabitants. A packed lunch is included today.
We will visit the Skerryvore Lighthouse Museum, which records the building of Britain’s tallest lighthouse, built on treacherous rocks over 10 nautical miles out to sea. The lighthouse was designed by Alan Stevenson (uncle of Robert Louis Stevenson) who also constructed the little settlement of Hynish to house the construction, and then lighthouse, workers.
We also visit the Treshnish Isles Natural History Exhibition, which is housed in one of these buildings. This exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the enchanting Treshnish Isles, which are visible from the Isle of Tiree and are owned and managed by the Hebridean Trust. Enjoying the Treshnish Isles whilst on Tiree helps to conserve a highly sensitive environment and to protect the seabird colonies, including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and petrels that rely on the Treshnish Isles as an annual breeding ground. Visitors can experience the natural history of the Treshnish Isles through stunning displays, a scale model of the islands and audio visual material.
All meals included
Hotel: The Scarinish Hotel
Following breakfast we check out of our accommodation and begin our journey home. On our way back to the harbour, we will see Tiree from a different perspective - “An Turas”, a piece of architecture the locals have named the “Wind Tunnel”. It is a very modern piece of architecture which gives ferry passengers a refuge from the wind whilst waiting for the ferry; it also has an enclosed viewing room at one end. We will arrive back in Oban mid-afternoon and continue our homeward journey, arriving back at our original pick-up points during the evening.
Meals include: Breakfast
7 July 2020: Additional Info
7 July 2020: Accommodation
Three generations of the Oliphant family have poured their heart and soul into the Coll Hotel since the 1960s. This dedication has not gone unnoticed. The Coll Hotel was awarded ‘Scottish Island Hotel of the Year’ two years running by Hotel Review Scotland. The Coll Hotel has also won the prestigious ‘Flavour of Scotland Thistle Award’.
In addition to award-winning, fresh homecooking and tastefully furnished ensuite bedrooms, the Coll Hotel Bar is the lively hub of a lovely Hebridean island.
The hotel is nestled by the old harbour beside a sandy beach with magnificent sea views towards Mull and Iona.
All guests have access to the Upper Deck lounge with its books and games, and the ever changing views over Scarinish old harbour, the Treshnish Isles and Mull. Dinner is served in The Old Harbour Restaurant where they offer good value dishes. The Lean To Bar is a friendly local meeting place with the fire adding to its cosiness. Tennents, Stella and Guinness are on draught and the whiskies on the gantry are expanding!