I was fortunate to enjoy superb weather for my weekend on Eigg and, as I described in my previous post, I was blown away with the island. Having climbed An Sgurr, Eigg’s prominent peak, in the morning I ventured to the north of the island for the rest of the day.
Cycling is a great way to get around Eigg. There’s one hill over the island, so there’s a bit of huffing and puffing involved, but it means that you can cross the island on essentially its only road in around 30 minutes. I stopped by the former post office for a breather, which now serves as a museum with an interesting overview and artefacts of the island’s past. Staying on a ‘communications’ theme, the old and weathered postbox at Cleadale is still in use, and its pealing paintwork hints at the many stories it could tell from events over the decades. It’s not altogether when the next collection might be (but I’m sure the locals know when the postie is likely to call past anyway) but I liked the contrast with the telecoms dishes you can just see further up the hill.
I followed a marked trail from near the road-end in Cleadale to the famed ‘Singing Sands’ beach. It occupies a fabulous view looking out to Rum and is a beautiful white quartz sand beach. When it’s dry the sand ‘squeaks’ as you walk on it, attributed to the uniform size of the grains of sand apparently. It really is an weird experience.
My plan for the afternoon was to do the circular Beinn Bhuidhe walk, climbing up above the cliffs at Eigg’s northern end. This meant for a fairly steep climb up from the beach for just over 300m. It was very warm and sticky so I was glad to reach the top and gain a breeze. Of course, there were plenty stopping opportunities en route to take photos. With the views of Rum and the south end of the island, the bird’s-eye view of the tiny crofts in Cleadale, as well as the purple heather and other wild flowers, I was in no particular rush. It’s just such an unbelievable beautiful setting – and I’m sharing just a fraction of my photos from the walk!
Incidentally, you can find my circuit of the Rum Cuillin a few years ago described in a previous post – and this is what Eigg looks like when looking back from the opposite direction.
The path follows the line of the cliffs, which create a spine down the northern half of the island. It gives superb views west towards the beaches and Rum beyond, south to An Sgurr as well as east, back to the white sand Morar beaches and mountains on the mainland. With an Atlantic gale and showers blowing in this wouldn’t be a place to linger, but today it was like a stroll in the park. I only saw two people to speak to the whole afternoon, and I met them just at the end of the walk.
I descended a steep path through high bracken back down to the road and returned to collect my bike. Next stop was the beach at Laig for a refreshing drink (embarrassingly, from neighbouring Skye rather than the local microbrewery on Eigg – the community shop didn’t seem to have the local stuff in stock). Several other groups were also spending the evening at the beach, swimming, camping on the machair or having a campfire. For me, it was a chance to cook my evening meal and soak in the view. (I did dip my feet into the water but it was far too c-o-l-d for me to swim …)
West-facing Laig Bay is a well-known location for photographers and I have to say that you could not fail to take a good shot on this absolutely stunning beach (two of the photos below are simply iPhone snaps).
On the northern side of the bay there are several large, almost circular sandstone boulders, with some up to two metres across. They’re apparently formed by the migration of calcite within the sands over a period of up to five million years, and have become eroded out of the cliff like giant marbles. They certainly make for interesting foreground, alongside with the sun slowly setting over the Rum Cuillin which sets the clouds on fire. The colours, reflections and silhouettes made for a memorable evening.
I sunbathed and read a book the next day until the ferry arrived late afternoon. There was hardly a cloud in the sky for much of the day – and I know this isn’t always the case!
Eigg really is a fascinating and hugely enjoyable island, and this was one of my favourite trips for some time. If you get a chance, please do climb the hills and explore the island. For even on a supposedly busy weekend, I pretty much had the best of the island to myself.