Isle of Coll

Map of Coll © 2012 Caroline Dearden

The Hebridean island of Coll has approximately 220 residents and lies 42 miles from Oban. Arinagour is the main settlement on Coll and you will find most of the local services here, including An Cridhe and Coll Bunkhouse, the ferry terminal, post office, petrol station, shops and accommodation.

Education

There is one primary school on the island which is thriving due to the number of young families resident. There are currently 29 children enrolled at Arinagour Primary School. Coll teenagers must travel to the mainland for their secondary education. Many attend Oban High School and stay at a hostel, while others attend public or private schools under individual arrangement made by parents.

Amenities

In Arinagour there are two general shops, a community centre (An Cridhe), a hostel (Coll Bunkhouse), a hotel, a guest house, a post office and gift shop, a community owned petrol company, a craft shop, a primary school with a pre-5 unit and a medical centre with a doctor and nurse.

Outside of the village, you’ll find the airport around 4 miles to the southwest, between Uig and Arileod. Nearby is the RSPB bird reserve and information centre at Totronald. Situated around 3 miles west of Arinagour, Ballyhaugh is the home to Project Trust, the single biggest employer on the island with over 40 years of operations.

For dental, veterinary or other health professionals Coll relies on services from Mull, Tiree or Oban.

Transport Links

ferry

Caledonian MacBrayne ferry leaving Oban

Islanders are heavily reliant on transport links provided by the ferry and plane. The ferry takes less than 3 hours from Oban and there are scheduled flights 2 days a week from Connel. Over the summer months the ferry runs once a day seven days a week, and over the winter five days a week.

In the summer, you can take a day trip to Tiree from Coll on a Thursday, or, from the mainland, you can take a day trip to Coll. Otherwise any trips to the mainland or inter island require an overnight stay. There is no direct public service link between Coll and Mull and the current timetables do not encourage links between Tiree and Coll.

Employment & the Economy

To live on Coll, a resilient attitude is a bonus. Many people hold down two or more forms of employment, some of which can be seasonal. Over 20 full or part-time jobs are council-related, while Project Trust, the largest single employer on the island supplies around a further 25 full or part time jobs.

Fishing and farming provides employment for numerous islanders, plus additional seasonal labour. There are at least 20 jobs directly related to the tourism industry with more jobs created on a seasonal basis. Several islanders obtain income through art and crafts and other islanders are self-employed in a range of industries.

The cost of living is high on Coll: fuel is generally around 30p more expensive than on the mainland; foodstuffs in general cost more and the cost of freight for delivered items (oil or coal for heating for example) adds considerably to household bills.

However, the island continues to be a desirable place to live. From 1981 to 2011, Coll’s population increased by over 60%. The community is vibrant with a wealth of community groups and associations who organise annual events including: the Coll Show; the Coll Half-Marathon, Burns Night, children’s Christmas party, fishing/football/golf competition; and weekly or monthly events including: U3A activities such as art and archery groups; after school activities and book group.