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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > Scotland > Hebrides > Inner Hebrides > Small Isles > Eigg

Eigg

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Eigg is one of the Small Isles, lying 10 miles off the west coast of Scotland. It's a moorland plateau, cleaved by a valley, and with the dramatic scarp of An Sgurr looming over it. It's been variously farmed and fought over: its brief moment of prosperity was early 19th C from kelp farming. Then, as elsewhere in the Highlands, that trade collapsed, and Eigg followed the unhappy pattern of clearances, conversion to sheep farming and sporting estates, and long-running disputes between residents and landowners. Since 1997 it's been owned and cared for by the residents' Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.

An Sgurr seen from the ferry on approach

Get in[edit]

First get to Mallaig by train, bus or car. You'll need an overnight stop before taking the Calmac ferry onward next morning, except perhaps for the Saturday and Sunday afternoon sailings.

These ferries sail every day, but to different Small Isles on different days. In summer (April-Oct) they call at Eigg and return to Mallaig daily except Weds; there are two sailings on Saturday. Day trips from Mallaig to Eigg are possible on Mon (4 hours ashore), Thurs (2) and Fri & Sat (3).

In winter (Nov-March) the ferries call on Mon, Wed, Fri & Sat. Day trips are possible on Wed & Fri, but with only 90 mins ashore.

Sightseeing trips from Arisaig frequently visit Eigg from May to Sept.

All routes are for foot passengers only; dogs and bikes are welcome but you can't bring a car. 1 Eigg Ferry Pier is at Galmisdale on the southeast corner of the island, next to the islet of Eilean Chathastail with its small lighthouse.

Get around[edit]

The island is about 5 miles north-south and 3 east-west. Walk or cycle, bike hire is available.

See[edit]

  • Kildonnan, by the next bay north of the ferry landing, was a monastic community in the era of St Columba. There's a Celtic High Cross and the ruins of a chapel, built (but perhaps never completed) 16th / 17th C probably over the site of an earlier church.
  • The Singing Sands. These are in Camas Sgiotaig, beyond Cleadale in the north of the island. It's a quartzite beach which when dry will rasp or sing as you walk on it.
  • Laig Bay just south also has a good beach but doesn't sing. Good views north to Rum. The 16 stone cairns here are believed to be Pictish from 8th C.
  • 1 Massacre Cave (at Grid Ref NM 474834, a short-to-medium walk from the ferry landing). Charred human remains have been found in this cave, and more turn up from time to time. The legend is that circa 1577, the islanders, of Clan Ranald, were hiding from marauders of Clan Macleod. They hid in the Cave of Frances (in Gaelic: Uamh Fhraing) but were discovered; the Macleods built a fire at the entrance then damped it, creating smoke that asphyxiated all 395 within. The story is dubious, but Eigg was indeed pillaged in that period.
  • Eigg has long been inhabited, with remains and artefacts dating back to the Middle Stone Age. Notable finds here are a Pictish grave slab and a Viking sword handle and longship. These are all now in the National Museum of Scotland - look for them if you're passing through Edinburgh on the way to Eigg.

Do[edit]

  • 1 An Sgurr: at 393 m this striking crag is Eigg's highest point. A trail from the ferry landing leads to the summit, no technical climbing but very boggy in places then steep with a rock scramble. A wall near the summit shows that this was once a fortified Dun. Allow 3-4 hours round trip.

Buy[edit]

A craft shop near the pier at Galmisdale sells locally produced goods as well as books and souvenirs.

You can have provisions sent over from Mallaig, see Small Isles#Buy.

Eat & drink[edit]

  • Laig Bay Brewery is a micro-brewery producing a variety of ales that you'll seldom find elsewhere.

Sleep[edit]

Dotted around the island are several guest houses, self-catering cottages and bothys, plus a basic campsite near the pier at Galmisdale.

Go next[edit]

In summer day-trips are possible from Eigg to Rum on Monday (2 hours ashore). Transfers from Eigg to Rum, Muck and Canna are possible on other days. Eventually you have to come back to Mallaig on the mainland.

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