Cracking Eigg

Just back from a weekend on the Isle of Eigg. This was first visit to the island for me. Headed up to Mallaig on Saturday morning for the early afternoon ferry which was very busy. On arrival on Eigg the pier area was mobbed with people! Later we discovered that our visit coincided with a biennel music festival!

A member of our group was supposed to have organised transport for our packs up the road to the Eigg Organics Campsite at Cleadale and assured us that there was an island mini-bus which always met the ferry. Yes, you guessed it, on arrival, no sign of a mini-bus! Enquiries revealed that there had been a mini-bus once upon a time but not any longer.

So backpacking for 4 miles it was (actually we did cheat a little and at about the half way point managed to get a lift). On arrival at the campsite it then proceeded to rain. Not much fun trying to put up tents in the rain and keep all your stuff dry. Campsite was very natural and on first glance seemed to be just a steep hillside. However, in among up the dips and hummocks were some excellent flat spots in unmown grass surrounded by wild flowers.

In between showers on Saturday evening we took a walk over to Laig Bay where there is an expanse of sand. On our return back to the tents we cooked up a meal of tasty couscous (well OK I did the cooking).

Heavy rain on Saturday night and on Sunday morning meant that we got off to a late start on Sunday morning having spent a couple of hours hiding under tent fly sheets! Walked the 4 miles back down the road to the pier area and had a coffee and lemon cake at the Galmisdale Café/Bar/Restaurant which was mobbed with the festival goers. Once sustained we then set off to tackle the formidable looking Sgurr of Eigg, at 393m the highest point of the island and its most prominent feature. Although a couple of sections required a bit of handwork (scramble would be a bit of an overstatement) it is easily ascended from the west side and a path leads round the north to approach from the west. Cracking views were had from the summit (as the mist swirled around) up to the north of the island, Muck and across to the mainland. Unfortunately, Rum, the largest of the Small isles, spent the entire weekend wearing a hat (sometimes a blanket) of cloud cover and we never saw the tops of its mountains. Met some of the festival goers heading up the hill.

Our return to the campsite was aided by the Eigg taxi service (yes there is one at the time of writing (July 2016) – ask at the café/shop when you arrive) for the last few miles up the road. The Eigg Taxi is a real black hackney cab type taxi – appears to be an ex London one – and is quite distinctive going up and down the island’s road!

One member of our group was booked into the campsite bothy for the Sunday night along with her 9 year old son, so Sunday evening’s meal was cooked and eaten in relative comfort sitting at a real table!

Monday morning was dry!!! The 9 year old was so exhausted by this time that he didn’t wake up until 10am (I know how he feels). One of the campsite dogs decided to chew through the guyline of one of our tents – fortunately, it didn’t result in the tent falling down! Strange creatures dogs! These two at the campsite were determined to play “fetch” with a manky chewed up ball which they would drop at our feet and then sit there looking for it to be thrown.

A trip to the Singing Sands was on the cards for the morning although we didn’t manage to get the sands to sing (we were advised that it was more of a squeaking noise anyway) as it wasn’t dry enough. Anyway, it was a pleasant walk out there. After the walk, further coffee and lemon cake was needed. This time courtesy of the wife of the taxi driver who operates an informal tea room from her house. Coffee was made in a cafetiere which in my opinion is much the best way to make coffee and far better than all these fancy coffee machines that tea rooms use nowadays. She also had a dog that wanted to play “fetch”, this time with the remains of a Frisbee.

Final walk on the island was back down the road to the pier although we did do a detour through some rather overgrown woods rather than walking along the road. Back at the pier it was a lot quieter than the previous days although there were still some obvious festival goers around. Ferry arrived on time and all too soon the weekend was over.

All in, Eigg is a very friendly island and welcoming to visitors. Lots of information available on the Eigg Community website. No need to camp in the rain as there are a number of B&Bs on the island along with camping pods and yurts.

A return visit is definitely in order sometime, hopefully with better weather. There looks to be a good walk down the ridge (a mini-Trotternish ridge) on the east side of the island and we were told about some caves along the south coast which would be worth a visit.

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Galmisdale and the Sgurr from the ferry
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