Almost a year ago I received a text message from Bob Milne our ex Minister in Langholm inviting me to The Island of Coll next June. He had been asked to preach at the local Parish Church on 2 Sundays and was therefore allowed to use the Kirk Manse. He had heard that I missed out on a trip to Coll a few years ago and it was one of the few Inner Hebridean Islands I still have to visit. I accepted immediately, but unfortunately the date was changed to September due to a mix up with the Session Clerk on Coll. It soon came round and on Tuesday Gaye and I headed out to Coll for 3 nights stay in The Manse as guests of Bob and Sheila Milne. The journey over was perfect and the sea flat calm for the almost 3 hour Ferry journey. This is one of the many beaches Bob and I walked the following day.
Our walk on Wednesday started at Cliad Nature Reserve and the first half of it followed the shoreline and at least 5 beaches. The beaches were very clean with very little plastic litter on them. The farm at Cliad is owned by Rob Wainwright who used to be Captain of the Scottish Rugby team and also played for the British Lions. Bob met him at church on Sunday but not being a Rugby supporter hadn't realised who he was.
My early morning walk on Wednesday just took in the village of Arinagour where we were staying.
The small Jetty in the village. The owners of this Yacht had arrived from Plockton and were taking 2 weeks to do as many of the Inner Hebridean Islands they could manage in that time.
The only row of houses on the whole island
This is one of the beaches on our big walk on Wednesday. We walked for 3 hours and never met another walker.
Yet another beach. The second half of the walk was along a very quiet road.
Coll Parish Church
On Thursday we drove to the south end of the island for a walk on Crossapol Bay beach which is probably the nicest beach on the island. Sheila and Gaye joined us for this much shorter walk.
Our perfect hosts Bob and Sheila
After our beach walk we went to the RSPB place on the island which is one of the best places on all of the islands for hearing the sounds of Corncrakes. They have left the island just recently but will be back in the spring. They are very shy birds and are rarely seen but often heard. This seat is the place where in April and May you can hear them calling to each other.
Our CalMac Ferry arriving from Three on Friday morning to take us to Oban on yet another calm crossing. With a north wind at our stern we actually arrived in Oban 20 minutes early.
Gaye and I did some exploring on our own on Wednesday afternoon and at this inlet next to the road we found several beautiful beaches. Unfortunately I did a very stupid thing and laid my Sony Camera on some rocks while I took photos on my phone. I forgot to pick it up and by the time later in the evening when I remembered what I had done with it the area it was left in had been covered by a high tide.
The photo I took with my phone and left my pocket camera behind. I console myself with the fact that I never really liked it and it was hopeless to focus on distance shots of birds so may just do without one or maybe get one in California.
Gay with our hosts Bob and Sheila
Arinagour from the Jetty
The Manse where we stayed. It was very basic and needs quite a bit of attention to it, but we were comfortable enough. No Wi-Fi working, no TV working, and a few other things were past their best but our hosts really looked after us.
Crossapol Bay and low tide. such a beautiful beach.
The runway at Coll Airport but there are no scheduled flights any more. We really enjoyed our time on Coll and finished our visit with a fantastic meal in The Coll Cafe just a few yards from The Manse on Thursday evening. The food and service were fabulous with my Beef the most tender I have ever eaten.
In my quest to walk on all of Scotlands inhabited islands I now only have Rum and Canna in the Inner Hebrides to do and 4 or 5 each on Orkney and Shetland to do. These will be difficult as they are the more remote ones on the northern islands, but hopefully in the next few years I will complete the task.