To be honest we hadn’t a clue what the Isle of Eigg had to offer as, although we had seen it on the maps when planning the Rum trip, we had not looked into it. With no idea what to expect we threw caution to the wind and headed to Arisiag to get the ferry across the next morning.
After a further conversation with the ticket office lady who told us about the Isle of Eigg, the wildlife, the scenery and the wild camping we were completely sold and made our way to Arisaig, camping at Camusdarach Campsite with its stunning beaches before heading down to the Arisiag Marina where we jumped on board the MV Sheerwater. As well as being a passenger ferry to the small Isles (Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna) it is also a wildlife boat trip so offers a great chance to see seals, porpoise, basking sharks and if you are very lucky, Minke Whales.
What I didn’t know at that point when I was crossing to Eigg that the experience of the island would be the most magical, incredible one.
This year I promised myself that I would finally go back and in June that’s exactly what I did; I returned to Eigg.
Having driven up to the west coast I spent the night at Camusdarach which was as spectacular as ever before taking the MV Sheerwater across to Eigg the next morning from Arisaig. The hour crossing is a great chance to spot wildlife and to see the Isle of Eigg come into view.
I pondered over the thought as to whether my experience on Eigg this time would be as good at the trip 7 years ago, or had I over glorified it in my mind over the years. I decided to try to not compare that trip with this one and to just take it as it comes.
Arriving at the ferry port on Eigg brought back some great memories as I spotted people I had met the last time I was there. I headed to the café near the pier which had not changed much at all I am glad to say and was advised it is still the central hub for the community of islanders. In fact the night before they had live music by a well-known band which was packed out.
The path soon joined onto the main road on Eigg that stretches from the ferry point to Clevedale. Here I passed the Isle of Eigg Primary School, the Old Shop (which is now a small museum) before finally approaching the north of the Island where Laig Bay came in to sight with views across to the Isle of Rum.
As I approached the Old Croft Museum, set up in the fashion of how a croft house would have been lived in, I was pleased to see it was still open and popped inside. It truly is a fantastic exhibit and provides a great insight into the lives of the crofters all those years ago.
I popped in and took a seat whilst I looked through the books, drawn to the book about Eigg written by Camille, one of the islands long standing residents. What started as flicking through soon turned in to a read-a-thon as I nestled down in the chair and read the history of Eigg including all the different Lairds who once owned the islands.
Having pitched up and had dinner whilst looking across to Rum I headed down to Laig bay for a late evening walk. Laig bay is such a beautiful place to be and what better may to end my first day back on Eigg than to watch the sun set and the wildlife around me.
Having approached from the east of the range, the path began to veer left and ascend up to the top of the saddle which provided extensive views across the island and towards the Isle of Muck and Rum, as well as to the mainland.
The area is one of scientific importance and is a habitat rich in flora and fauna. It has a number of lochs that were popular for trout fishing in previous decades and is home to a variety of interesting plants and insects. An Sgurr itself is of real geological significance, a result of one of the last eruptions of a volcano. Making my way to the summit trig point under blue skies I was met by the fantastic 360 panorama. I could see across the whole island and beyond to Rum, Muck and the Scottish mainland. What a stunning sight and an amazing place to be.
After arriving back at my tent and cooking dinner I made my way down to the Singing sands, named so as when you walk on the dry sand it squeaks under foot due to the layers rubbing against the quarts in the sand. Here I wandered the beach watching the sea birds, visited the ‘Mermaids Hair’ water fall and just enjoyed being back in this beautiful place. Views across to Rum were again incredible and I stayed there late into the evening, watching the sun set before returning to my tent.
The next day I headed to the south of the island where I stopped in the café for a coffee before making my way down to the Cathedral and Massacre Caves on the south west coast. I will never forget the last time I was here, all those years ago being told the history of the Massacre cave and how the islanders would hide in the cave in times of danger. One of the most tragic of those times took place in the late 16th century when the whole of the island community was hiding in the cave from the McLeods, the clan that the McDonalds of Eigg had been feuding with for some time. At first they thought they had remained unseen but were eventually found and the McLeods lit a fire at the entrance of the cave causing all 395 islander to suffocate. A massacre indeed and an extremely sad blot of the Island's history.
Before the tide came and cut me off from I took the path back up to the tops before heading back to the shop to pick up a few things. I then continued on towards the south-eastern part of the islands to a bay where there was many seals bobbing about in the water. I noted that this would be a perfect spot for a wild camp for later. I made my way back to the pier to retrieve my rucksack and after walking around the south coast I decided to pitch up for a wild camp right near the sea, an ideal spot to watch all the seals.
After cooking dinner whilst watching the wildlife I lay in my tent reading my book and listening to the sea. As the light began to fade I had one last look outside at the beautiful scenery before zipping up the tent door and falling into a peaceful sleep.
As I waited for the Manx Shearwater ferry to arrive I mulled over my last few days on Eigg and thought about how great it was to once again experience this magnificent island. It did truly live up to expectataions and this is certainly a place you can visit many, many times. Next time I won't wait 7 years to return!