The fish-shaped rocky island of Coll, with a population of around a hundred, lies less than seven miles off the coast of Mull. The CalMac ferry drops off at Coll’s only real village, ARINAGOUR, whose whitewashed cottages dot the western shore of Loch Eatharna. Half the island’s population lives here, where you’ll find the hotel and pub, post office, churches and a couple of shops.
On the southwest coast there are two edifices, both confusingly known as Breachacha Castle. The older is a restored fifteenth-century tower house, and now a training centre for overseas aid volunteers. The less attractive “new castle”, to the northwest, is made up of a central block built around 1750 and two side pavilions added a century later, and has been converted into holiday homes. Much of the area around the castles is now owned by the RSPB, with the aim of protecting the island’s small corncrake population. A vast area of giant sand dunes lies to the west of the castles, with two glorious golden sandy bays stretching for more than a mile on either side.