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The Isle of Coll, The Inner Hebrides, Scotland
Coll is a small, low lying island some 5 kilometres west of the Isle of Mull and 6 kilometres south west of Ardnamurchan Point, the most westerly part of UK’s mainland. The island is approximately 21 kilometres by 5 kilometres and is fairly central in the coastal chain of Hebridean islands, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding islands. The highest point on Coll is Ben Hogh in the south west of the island, which rises to a height of 104 metres (341 ft).
The Isle of Coll lies 56.66 degrees north and as such has considerably longer daylight hours in the summer than most parts of the UK, particularly England and Wales. Mid summer there can be almost no darkness, however, in winter, the Isle of Coll has considerably longer dark hours making sky viewing even more exciting. In the depths of winter daylight hours are short, approximately 09:00 hrs to 15:30 hrs.
The island is well know for its sandy beaches, 23 in all, large sand dunes and a rather dull but noisy little bird called the corncrake (crex crex). The island has one village, Arinagour, which houses all the island’s amenities and is just 1 kilometre from the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry terminal where daily (summer) ferries connect with the mainland and the neighbouring Isle of Tiree. In the winter there are just five ferries per week. There is an airport in the S.W. of Coll with scheduled flights to Oban and Tiree on Mondays and Wednesdays. The runway is unlit.
Coll has a residential population of around 170. Employment is based on farming, fishing, education and the tourist industry the latter attracting niche tourists in relatively small numbers due to limitations of accommodation availability. Coll is, therefore, one of the quieter islands of the inner Hebrides. Coll is an incredibly dark place in winter assisted by the small volume of island vehicular traffic and the fact that there is no street lighting. Aurorae Borealis are often seen during these periods.