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

Muck

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Muck seen from Horse Island north of Gallanach

Muck is one of the Small Isles off the west coast of Scotland. It's the smallest of the four inhabited Isles, about 2.5 miles east-west by a mile north-south, and has no shop, church or even a letter-box. It's low-lying and relatively fertile, with a range of accommodation, so in summer its resident population of 40 is doubled. Muck is owned by the MacEwen family, who've lived and farmed here for a century. Back in 1785 the owner hated being called "Lord of Muck" and tried to persuade Johnson & Boswell that it was "Monk". The name probably means "pigs" (Gaelic "Mouach") but is now thought to refer to porpoises, "sea-pigs", which abound in these waters.

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 Sat & Sun afternoon sailings.

These ferries sail every day, but to different Small Isles on different days. In summer (April-Oct) they call at Muck and return to Mallaig on Tues, Thurs, Sat & Sun. Day trips from Mallaig to Muck are possible on Saturday, with 4 hours ashore.

In winter (Nov-March) the ferries call on Mon, Weds, Fri & Sat; day-trips are not possible.

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

All routes are for foot passengers only; dogs and bikes welcome but you can't bring a car. 1 Muck Ferry Pier is on the south-east corner of the island at Port Mòr (Gaelic for "Big Port": can there be a smaller one?) With your own boat, either anchor here (56° 49.6’ North 06° 13.0’ West) or at Gallanach on the north side (56° 50.5’ North 06° 15.5’ West).

Get around[edit]

Walk. Muck's main drag is a single-track lane of, ooh, at least a mile and a half, from the jetty at Port Mor in the south to Gallanach beach in the north. It's hardly worth bringing a bike, and of course you can't bring a car.

Note that as well as the OS Landranger 39 and Explorer 397 maps covering all the Small Isles, Muck is also covered by Explorer 390 for Ardnamurchan.

See[edit]

Most of Muck's 40-some population lives in the small village of Port Mor in the south or at 1 Gallanach on the north coast. The western part of the island is unpopulated but can be explored on foot. The whole island can be seen from Beinn Aireinn (449 ft / 137m), the highest point of the island. The uninhabited small island just north is Horse Island.

There are five scheduled ancient monuments on Muck, all of which can easily be accessed on foot, but be stoutly shod & clad for boggy ground and thick undergrowth.

  • A’chille (literally 'the old village') is described as a township, chapel and burial ground, and is located above Port Mor
  • Toaluinn is a recently discovered large oval building, believed to be of Norse origin.
  • Caisteal an Duin Bhain is fort at the western entrance to Port Mor. Of prehistoric origin, although the buildings on top and around about are more recent.
  • Two cairns at Ard nan Uan: On the west side of Gallanach are Neolithic or early Bronze Age, 2,000BC. The central part of the north cairn has been used as the MacEwen family grave.
  • Cairn on the summit of Beinn Airein, the island's peak.

Do[edit]

A number of residential crafts courses are offered on the island, including rug, felt and toy sheep making (all using fleece from Muck's own sheep) and basketry (using willow grown on the island). For details of courses tel: +44 1687 462363 or +44 1687 460057.

A small shoot offers around ten days a season, with opportunities for pheasant, partridge, duck, snipe and woodcock. Full board accommodation is usually included in two or three day packages. Tel: +44 1687 462365.

Buy[edit]

Gallanach Beach on the Isle of Muck, looking north towards the Isle of Eigg.

The Craft Shop, Tea Room and Restaurant is Muck's only commercial outlet, and is open every day during July and August from 11am onwards, and most days for the other summer months. The Craft Shop is situated in the main settlement of Port Mor and during the summer months is the centre of activity for both locals and visitors alike. The shop offers a large selection of original crafts, many produced on the island, including rugs made from Isle of Muck wool, homemade baskets, hand knitted garments and handspun island wool, a selection of craft books, and cards of all shapes and sizes capturing the beauty of the local scenery.

Eat[edit]

In summer the Craft Shop, Tea Room and Restaurant is open Fri-Wed 11:00-16:00 plus Fri 18:00-22:00. Beyond those hours, the restaurant does evening meals for residents but must be booked in advance: tel +44 1687 462362.

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

Drink[edit]

The Craft Shop, Tea Room and Restaurant is licensed to serve alcohol with meals to those eating in. It doesn't have an off-license.

Muck doesn't have a brewery or distillery.

Sleep[edit]

Details of all accommodation on the island can be found on the island's website isleofmuck.com

  • The Bunkhouse, +44 7833 195694, e-mail: . Self-catering cottage / hostel with four bedrooms (3 with bunk beds + one double), plus small kitchen and living room. Can by rented by the bed (£20 ppn) or in its entirety for groups, including out-of-season. It's near the tearoom overlooking Port Mor.
  • Port Mor House is a self-catering house, summer only, with 9/10 bedrooms, sleeps 14+. It's the white house west side of the bay from the pier; it no longer operates as a hotel. Tel: +44 1687 462218 or email ewanandjudy@gmail.com.
  • Godag House is a small B&B (one double, one twin) midway between Port Mor and Gallanach. Dinner is also available. Tel. +44 1687 460264 or email kellymaclennan2117@hotmail.com
  • Also about midway is a Mongolian Yurt - just as you'd despaired of ever finding one in the Small Isles. Available May-Sept, sleeps 5-10, £15 ppn. Tel +44 1687 460264 or email yurt@isleofmuck.com
  • Gallanach Lodge is a new hotel at the north end of the island road. Eight bedrooms, dinner B&B from £90 ppn, and bar. Tel +44 1687 462365 or email lodge@isleofmuck.com.
  • Three self-catering cottages are available for let, weekly Saturday to Saturday in summer, more flexibly out of season. Tel +44 1687 462362 or see isleofmuck.com. The cottages are all at Gallanach at the north end of the island road:
New House is a 1930s timber cottage. Sleeps up to 10 (double, two twins & four singles), £520/week peak season.
Gallanach Cottage, effectively the last house on the island, is a traditional cottage. Three bedrooms, sleeps up to 7, £450/week peak season.
Seileachean, a converted stone barn, has one double bedroom with single top bunk. £380/week peak season.

Go next[edit]

In summer on Saturday a day-trip is possible from Muck to Eigg, with 3 hours ashore. Transfers are possible on other days to Eigg and Canna, but you can only reach Rum by doubling via Mallaig on the mainland.

This city travel guide to Muck is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.