Isle of Coll

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Coll (Scottish Gaelic: Colla) is a small island, west of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Coll is known for its sandy beaches, which rise to form large sand dunes, for its corncrakes, and for Breachacha Castle.

Coll is about 21 km long by 5 km wide (13 miles by 3 miles) and has a population of less than 200. The island has a small village, Arinagour, from which ferries operated by Caledonian MacBrayne sail to Scarinish on Tiree and to Oban on the mainland. The journey to Oban normally takes about two hours, but in stormy winter weather it can take much longer.

Coll's sandy beaches rise to form large sand dunes.

The highest point on Coll is Ben Hogh in the south west of the island which rises to a height of 104 metres (341 feet).

Coll was home to a branch of the Clan MacLean for 500 years, not all of which were peaceful. In 1590 the MacLeans of Duart invaded their cousins on Coll with the intention of taking the island for themselves. A battle was fought at Breachacha Castle where the Coll clan overwhelmed the Duarts, chopped off their heads and threw them in the stream which is still known as "the stream of the heads".

The Macleans of Coll retained their baronial fief and Castle of Breachacha until 1848 when Alexander Maclean of Coll emigrated to Natal where he died unmarried.

Breachacha Castle on the south coast dates from the fifteenth century. It was restored by the Project Trust, a gap year organisation that sends school leavers abroad for a year's voluntary work. They send 17-19 year olds on a whole year abroad, and have extensive selection and training weeks. An 18th century mansion house stands nearby.

The population of Coll was much higher in the past. In the late 1700s there were about 1,000 people supported by agriculture and fishing. During the Highland Clearances of the 1830s and 1840s, half the population left, many of them moving to Australia, Canada or South Africa.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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