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Isle of Eigg

with thanks to Iain Gow who contributed this article

Distance: 16 miles. Estimated time: 4 hours

Stage 1

Plan for a Monday to give you about 5 hours on the island. If arriving at Mallaig with a car, continue past the ferry terminal and small boat piers for a few hundred metres where there is ample free parking at East Bay. Private vehicles are not allowed to park inside the terminal. Cycle back to the terminal, buy your tickets and board the Calmac ferry. This terminal also serves the other small isles of Rum, Muck and Canna, the Isle of Skye and Inverie. You can purchase any snacks and drinks before boarding, on the ferry or in the shop on the island. An hour and half later, you have arrived on Eigg.

Stage 2

Push your bike off the ferry then take a few moments to look at the majestic pitchstone peak of An Sgurr rising up to 394 metres.

You can hire a bike on the island at the cycle hire just after the terminal if you don't have your own.

On the right just after the ferry terminal is a notice board with a map of the island showing each route in a different colour. Be aware there are no sign posts on Eigg directing you to each route or POI so you need to look out for wooden posts with a splash of the route colour to guide your way which, IMHO, leaves the landscape all the better for it. Follow the left fork rising up through the trees to the top of the hill then continue along the flat grassy track and through the gate at the side of the house to the road. Turn left here and follow the graded road all the way round towards the wind turbine. Continue past the exit to the turbine where the road becomes more of a landrover track and gradually gets worse and narrower the farther you go.

After 1˝ miles, you arrive at the deserted village at Grulin with fine views across to Muck. There is also a croft house here; maybe a bothy as it is pretty sparse inside (my apologies to the owners).

Return by the same route back to the fork at the ferry terminal then take the shore road leading to the north of the island. Alternatively, take the most direct route past Sandamhor instead of taking the track back through the grassy field and Glamisdale to avoid the climb up from the terminal.

Stage 3

Follow this fine, single track paved road all the way towards Cleadale, taking care on some of the sharp steep bends as there are a few vehicles about for such a small island, especially with the island bus and post van covering the island. Pass the school, shop, museum, a Yurt and a few cabins on the way, unless of course you wish to stop at the shop or museum for a browse. Remember to keep watching for any eagles that may be soaring overhead.

At the north west of the island are two fine beaches at Laig Bay and the Singing Sands beach, if you can find the correct path to follow. (Remember the coloured routes shown on the board at the terminal).

Stage 4

Return the way you came until the section of road where the black-top takes a sharp left with a grassy/stone track heading straight on. Take this track heading into the trees and pass the Lodge on your right. Take the next right when you exit the trees then a quick left and cycle over the short grass passing the house/café on your right and follow this grass path through the field keeping parallel to the shore until you come to a gate where your bike can go no farther. Lock your bike to the fence (if you feel the need), walk through the gate and follow the well-made path heading down to the rocky shore and the caves. Tide permitting, walk over the rocks to Massacre and Cathedral Caves which are quite spectacular. Carrying a torch with you for inside the cave would be useful. This is the cave where 395 MacDonalds were suffocated by smoke in a 1577 vendetta by the McLeod's of Skye.

When ready, return to the terminal (having climbed about 700 metres) to catch your ferry back to Mallaig and a meal in one of the many F&C shops or bars / inns. Try the Inn up Davies Brae opposite the Pharmacy for really good meals and service.

iain gow

Download GPS data in GPX format.


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