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Coll Scotland’s fi rst Dark Sky Island Just off Mull is the secluded Isle of Coll, which offers peace and quiet to enjoy nature at its best. Coll lies 10 km west of coastal Argyll and boasts about 200 permanent residents. The island attracts dozens of bird species and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds owns an extensive reserve at the west end of the island. As the setting of Mairi Hedderwick’s series of children’s books, visitors may recognize spots from her enchanting illustrations. But what really puts Coll in the spotlight is, well, the lack of light. A sparse population, geographic isolation and outdoor lighting management make the night skies over the Isle of Coll among the darkest in Europe, garnering it a designation by the International Dark Sky Association as Scotland’s fi rst Dark Sky Island. The island is so committed to ensuring that Coll remains dark for many future generations of residents and visitors, residents adopted a quality outdoor lighting management plan. Coll Dark Skies Group includes Julie Oliphant, owner of the Coll Hotel, Paula Smalley who runs Tigh Na Mara Guesthouse, and local stargazers Tony Oliver and Olvin Smith. Tony said: ‘The fi rst winter on Coll I was in awe of the night sky, it’s on a par with many of the high arctic regions I’d visited. Soon I discovered Coll had some real stargazers, which eventually led, over many pints, to where we are today. The island community is very ‘Dark Skies’ Clabbach sand pillar Photo: Allan McKechnie Isle of Coll Photographics Breachacha Castle, Isle of Coll Photo: Dennis Hardley 53


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