The Isle of Eigg is the second largest island of a small archipelago of islands, The Small Isles. The impressive pitchstone ridge of the Sgurr of Eigg is a dramatic remnant of the last volcanic eruption on the island.
There are three nature reserves on the island (SSSIs), encompassing moorland, raised bog and the hazel scrub. The Lodge Gardens also support a diverse collection of horticultural specimens.
There are some lovely sandy bays in the north west of the island, and some interesting cave formations on the south coast including the large high roofed Cathedral Cave, formerly used for church services, and the infamous Massacre Cave, where over 390 inhabitants were murdered by the Clan MacLeods as part of an ongoing feud between the latter and the MacDonalds.
There are just under 200 of resident and migrant bird species recorded for the island, of which approximately 70 species breed on Eigg, Look out for basking sharks and for minke whale, dolphins and other cetaceans in surrounding waters, and otters along the coastline.
The island supports a diverse flora, with twelve species of orchid recorded on the island, Arctic- alpine assemblages and over 300 species of bryophytes.
The islands also has a rich archaeological and cultural heritage, afforded by over 8000 years of occupation, as evidenced by the remains of graves, burial mounds, Iron Age duns, Bronze Age metal workings, ancient forts, Christian crosses and shielings, as well as a more recent 18 century water mill, an ‘ Italianate’ Lodge, a B- listed farmhouse and a Gothic style church.
Travelling to the Island
By passenger boat from Arisaig or the taking the Calmac ferry from Mallaig. We took the Manx Sheerwater from Arisaig marina (booking and early arrival advisable). The Sheerwater has indoor seating at the front and outdoor seating at the rear; it is a good idea to arrive if you have a seating preference. The Sheerwater sails between May and September, please refer to sailing time table for sailing dates.
The journey to Eigg takes about an hour on the Sheerwater and the length of stay on the island is between 4 and 5 hours depending on the day selected. The outgoing journey provides a wealth of opportunity to admire island views as you leave the Arisaig and as you approach the Small Isles. There is good wildlife spotting opportunities on route. Look out for small congregations of auks (black guillemots, guillemots, razorbills), gannets, puffins, eider ducks. Common seals and shags can be found some of the numerous small islands as you leave the mainland, these islands ranging in size from tiny and barren islets to larger vegetation clad islands. On arrival at Eigg , we were greeted a lone piper.
The Isle of Eigg makes for a good day trip from the mainland, as well as for longer stays, accessible by ferry from Mallaig and Arisaig. In our five hours ashore we explored the south west of Eigg along the community maintained way marked walking routes.
By the pier there is a café serving a selection of drinks and light lunches, a general store, a craft shop, an information centre, and a bicycle hire shop. There is an interpretation board about the island and another showing the way-marked walks.
There is a restaurant in Cleadale, the main settlement on the north of the island, as well as a crofting museum and crofting trail, run by the Eigg History Society.
There are a number of way-marked walks on the island, the routes of which are displayed on a postcard map of the walks that can be purchased from the Craft Shop, at the Pier Centre (Am Laimhrig). Details of seven of the walks can also be found on Walk Highlands website. The walks range from a short stroll around the pier and Lodge Gardens to a more arduous walk to the Scurr of Eigg. For the northern walks, there is a limited minibus service to the north of the island or you can hire a bike.
Guided Wildlife Walk
There is a guided wildlife walk given by the resident Scottish Wildlife Trust Warden, John Chester, on Thursday between April and September. Pleaae telephone 01687 482477 to book
Bikes can be hired from the shop at the pier or you can arrange to bring your own bike on the ferry. You can cycle to along the single track road to Howlin on the north of the island, or take some of off road trails through the island.
There also opportunities to explore the coast and surrounding waters by sea kayak or by taking a wildlife watching cruise- refer to Eigg Adventures for details.
A great day out if staying in and around Moidart, Ardnamurchan, Arisaig and Mallaig.