“Coll and Tiree”

The words often seem to go together.
Most CalMac ferries sail to a single island.
The sailing from Oban is normally for Coll and Tiree.

The MV Lord of the Isles sets sail for Oban from Coll

So the names appear together in the timetables.
In Oban Ferry Terminal the announcer follows the same pattern.
“The ferry for Coll and Tiree is now boarding from Gate Number Two.”

The PS Waverley approaching Coll Pier from Staffa and Iona

By ferry they lie respectively 3 and 4 hours out from Oban.
Tiree is the more westerly of these two Hebridean Isles.
They are generally are regarded as twins.
They are certainly not identical twins.
They are very, very, different.

(Mouseover for captions, Double click for larger photos)

Dubrovnik. Tiree. Coll.
Certain birthday celebrations have continued.
The most recent was an overnight stay on the Isle of Coll.

The PS Waverley heads out to sea bound for Oban via the Sound of Mull

Monday’s ferry left Tiree for Coll at 11:50
And Tuesday’s ferry left Coll for Tiree at 17:50
This arrangement gave us more than 24 hours on Coll.

The Coll Hotel

After lunch at the Coll Hotel we had a great surprise.
The paddle steamer Waverley was visiting Coll that afternoon.
(The Waverley is the last sea going paddle steamer in the world.)

Feall Beach and Bay

This excursion was part of Waverley’s advertised ‘Western Isles’ sailings.
Departing Oban the sailing took in the isles of Iona, Staffa and Coll.
There was an opportunity to cruise some of Coll’s coastline.
The return to Oban was via the Sound of Mull.

An enormous rock in the valley leading to the beach

Having just arrived on Coll we elected to photograph rather than cruise.
As a consequence we saw her arrive and depart twice.
The weather could hardly have been better.
Bright blue sky prevailed.

The attractive gardens of the Coll Hotel

Following that we decided to go exploring.
With limited time we headed west to the dunes at Feall Bay.
Immediately you are struck by just how different the two islands are.

One orchid among many to be found close to the pier

The Isle of Coll is much more rugged.
None of its ‘Bens’ are as high as Ben Hynish on Tiree.
Yet as soon as you leave the village of Arinagour you climb.
The whole feel of the island is that you are in the ‘Highlands’.

Driving through Coll’s rugged landscape

The Isle of Tiree is sometimes described as one large raised beach.
Unusually for the Hebrides Tiree is surrounded by shell sand beaches.
On the Isle of Coll the beaches are only on the Atlantic facing coastline.

Roamin’ in the Gloamin’

The evening meal in the Coll Hotel was a real treat.
The food and the service is to be highly commended.
Afterwards, we went “Roamin’ in the Gloamin’ in the village.
Tiree has crofting townships while Coll has its village of Arinagour.

An evening stroll through the village

Arinagour is on the shore of the sea Loch Eatharna.
It is a most attractive setting with its row of white houses.
In many ways it reminded us of a North East Coast fishing village.
Our room looked out on the yachts moored in the still waters of the loch.

In this peaceful location we enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
After a hearty breakfast we set out once again to explore Coll..
This time we headed north and east passing names reminiscent of Tiree.
There was Cornaigmore and a Cornaigbeg but so different from their namesakes.

Two sheep sitting high up on a crag

The Machair on Coll is nowhere nearly as extensive as on Tiree.
This is understandable when you consider the nature of the terrain.
Bird song and wild flowers are prolific throughout the whole island.
We found ourselves continually stopping the car to photograph the flowers.

In the afternoon we headed out towards Ben Hogh and Hogh Beach.
We parked close to the Hebridean Centre the home of Project Trust.
Here volunteers are trained for Gap year Projects overseas.

The Hebridean Centre

On Tiree we are so used to more or less just stepping onto the beach.
On Coll it generally involves a drive and a walk to reach the beach.
That is unless you live in a home close to one of the beaches.
However, Coll has fewer houses and less of a population.
It is less than a third of Tiree’s population.

On both islands there is a red sense of community.
On Coll most of the community activity is centred around Arinagour.
On Tiree with its crofting townships there is no one central community hub.

Hebridean Islands are all very different.
It was great to be able to spend a short time with the neighbours.
However, on Tuesday it was a near perfect sail back to the island we call home.

This is Life on Tiree

The MV Lord of the Isles arrives in a glassy sea to carry us home to Tiree