Coll & Tiree Circumnavigation

Why did we wait so long to go to Coll and Tiree? Look at that photo, taken among the islands at the northern tip. Stunning.

Perhaps because Coll is not too far off-shore, I've been building up to kayaking there? But long crossings are boring.

The interface between land and sea is much more interesting.

So we wheeled our kayaks on the CalMac MV Clansman, and wheeled them off again on Coll a few hours later. Based on that experience, I'll write a separate entry about taking kayaks on the CalMac.

However, a trolley for your kayak makes things a great deal easier. Especially landing on Coll.

Around the ferry terminal the coast is very rocky, and launching a fully laden kayak would be a back-injuring challenge.

The nearest beach is a 1km walk along a smooth tarmac road, and that's where the trolley comes into its own.

Rigged as in the photo, and pushing rather than pulling, we covered the ground as fast as most walkers.

It would probably be safe to leave a trolley next to several small sailing boats stacked near the beach. However, we took ours with us as we might have returned from Tiree.

The axles of these Eckla Trolleys were together in two Lomo tapered yellow drybags (they didn't really fit) on my back deck. I had the (large) wheels infront of my foot pegs, turned upright, flat against the bulkhead, and strapped together so, incase of wet exit, I'd only have one item to retrieve. Liz's wheels went on her back deck.

If you don't have a trolley, there is an exciting alternative launch on Coll.

Ask the staff at the CalMac office if they would be so kind as to lower the ro-ro ramp all the way to the water and treat it as a slipway.

However, if you're going all the way around Coll, you face the same problem getting back to the ferry terminal, and lowering the ramp might not then be possible.

Our circumnavigation of Coll and Tiree was a voyage of 110km. Including the ferry travel from Oban it took four days - we left on Thursday morning and were back Sunday evening. We wild camped each night, although finding camping places on Tiree is definitely harder as there are more houses.

The first photo showed the lovely islands around the Cairns of Coll area at the north of the island.

This photo shows the equally stunning southern end of Tiree.

I found the east coast more interesting that the west. The long beaches of the west are, to a sea kayaker, mini-open crossings as you paddle from one headland to the next. Whereas the east coast is crinklier with more points of interest.

Yesterday, I posted video of basking sharks playing with us in Gunna Sound. I've picked my other highlights on this page in


Anonymous said...

I can't get the link to work for the photos and gps unfortunately, would have loved to have see more.

Simon said...

Sorry - the link pointed to a website called which I used to run.

Sadly it is no longer maintained so the links don't work.