Christmas on Coll

What a lovely end to the year – we spent Christmas week on the lovely island of Coll, in the Inner Hebrides. It was a bit of an adventure getting there – we were meant to go on the Saturday before Christmas, and the ferry did indeed set off from Oban at too-early o’clock, only to find that the swell of the sea at the piers at both Coll and Tiree (the neighbouring island) was too much for it to be able to dock and let people off! To give the captain his due, he did try several times, motoring between the two islands, before deciding that it really wasn’t going to happen, so 8 hours after leaving Oban we arrived back there and had to spend an extra night there (luckily the youth hostel was a. very nice and b. not full). The following day they put on another boat for us, and this time we were able to land. This is the cottage we stayed in (which can be found here, and which I’d definitely recommend, for the snug accommodation and the warmth of the welcome, which included home-made cake :) ).

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The Visit Coll website does say there is basically nothing to do there, which is basically right, but is all part of the charm! We were able to fully chill out and relax and not feel like we had to be anywhere or be missing out, which meant that we were able to read, play guitar (HD’s Christmas present), eat, walk around a bit, sleep and just chill – it was wonderful, and just what the doctor ordered. We managed to skype both sets of parents on Christmas Day, although the internet was a bit flaky then (HD reckoned there must have been a sheep in front of the dish on the hill that is something important to do with the island’s internet) – but it was nice to have contact with family, isn’t technology marvellous?!

Towards the end of the week the weather got worse, and the last couple of days it was pretty cold and wet, and the locals were murmuring about the ferry not being able to land on Saturday (when we were due to go back home). They had already said we could stay in the cottage longer if we had to, and we had the promise of the use of a washing machine and an invitation to a dinner-dance in the village hall on Saturday night if the ferry didn’t go, so we weren’t too worried, but I must admit much of Friday was spent indoors looking at the live weather stats on the Visit Coll site wondering if we’d get away! Both Thursday and Friday nights I hardly slept as the wind howling in from the Atlantic was so loud, so we weren’t sure what would happen, but in the end although it took the ferry a couple of attempts (the first time a rope broke, of all things) they did manage to dock and take us off the island as planned and we eventually got home early evening on Saturday.

Here are a few photos, mainly of beach walks (Coll, like many of the Hebridean islands, has some beautiful beaches with pristine sand). There’s a larger set on flickr here.

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