Getting to the Isle of Coll
Most folk travel to Coll on a Caledonian MacBrayne ferry.
In the summer there are daily sailings from Oban, six sailings per week from Tiree and one from Barra.
In the winter there are four sailings per week from both Oban and Tiree.
The journey from Oban takes between 2.5 and 3 hours, depending which vessel you have, MV Clansman and MV Lord of The Isles being the two vessels allocated to this route. The cruise itself is a beautiful experience gliding down the Sound of Mull, past Tobermory and then Ardnamurchan Point (the most westerly tip of the UK's mainland) for a short crossing in more open sea to Coll. Click to see route. In the summer the chances of spotting dolphin, whale sand basking sharks are quite high and amongst the wealth of bird life you may see shearwaters, petrels and perhaps a white-tailed sea eagle.
There are ferry sailings to and from Coll to Barra (via Tiree), once per week on a Thursday. There is even a Calmac Hopscotch supplement for those wishing to combine Coll/Tiree with an outer isles experience.
If you are traveling with a vehicle between Coll and Tiree, Coll and Barra or Tiree and Barra you will most probably have to reverse your vehicle onto the ferry - even if your are towing a trailer. How are your reversing skills?
Click for Ferry Timetable
Ferry Reservations hotline - 0800 066 5000
Please remember, buying a ticket does not automatically give you a reservation for your car. Make sure you have a reservation for the sailings you wish to use.
The Isle of Coll has an airstrip, situated at the west end of the island next to the helipad - Location.
Scheduled flights operate on Mondays and Wednesdays and their times vary throughout the year (the runway is unlit and flying is governed by visibility (or rather, the lack of it)). Flights are run by Hebridean Air Services. There are additional flights for some of the school kids to return for the weekends.
Seats are available (for anyone) on the return legs of scholar flights, and these are often at reduced prices - contact hebridean Air Services for times and availability.
The tel no. for flight bookings is 0845 805 7465
Light planes and helicopters often come to Coll, usually landing at the new airstrip or the helipad. The helipad is lit for night time emergencies. There are no facilities at the airstrip other than a payphone (still awaiting connection to a BT line), a waiting room and a toilet. To land at the airport please contact Connel Airport for permission - 01631 710910.
A private helipad is operational in the Coll Hotel's garden for those wishing to visit the hotel. Landings by prior arrangements with the hotel on 01879 230334.
Alternatively, you will be very welcome coming to Coll under your own steam. Coll is an increasingly popular anchorage for yachtsmen, the cuisine being just one of the attractions. Many visitors charter a boat from Tobermory (Island Shuttle), Tiree or the mainland (Coastal Connection, Oban). The more energetic come by sea kayak, but that's not for the inexperienced.
Once here, there is no taxi service or bus.
Disruptions and the weather (more relevant in the winter months):-
However you travel to Coll you should always be aware that you may not get away exactly when you plan. This is a remote island, out in the Atlantic, where ferries and plane schedules are sometimes disrupted by bad weather, or the knock on effect of earlier bad weather in the islands. They have also been known to break down !
If you have an important flight to catch on the mainland or really, really must get somewhere then consider leaving early. The pier staff, for example, will show as much sympathy as possible but they aren't really moved by being told "but I have to get the boat" as it sails by in a force 8. If you do get stuck on Coll, all you have to do (perhaps) is adjust your mind.
On ferry days when the boat calls twice (on the way to Tiree and on the way back), if the weather is really bad the ferry will often call only once. Please keep in touch with the CalMac pier office (01879 230347) before the first ferry is due - and be ready for a quick exit to make the sailing to Oban via Tiree.