This month marks exactly 20 years since the successful buy-out of the Scottish Isle of Eigg, located to the south of the Skye and to the north of the Ardnamurchan peninsula in the Inner Hebrides, by members of the local community. It also celebrates two decades of Eigg as a self-sustained island (it generates virtually 100% of its electricity using renewable energy), making it a great time to visit to experience the tranquil and beautiful surroundings of the island.
However, there are always great reasons to visit Eigg, along with its neighbouring islands of Rum, Muck and Canna. All four islands are reached by ferry from Mallaig, with most having a daily service perfectly suited for day trips, ideal for cyclists and hill walkers looking to escape for the day.
Read on for some suggested picks of things to see and do in the region.
- Escape to (almost) your own private island… and make friends with a herd of highland ponies. With a population of just 38, the island of Muck is the smallest and most southerly of the Small Isles. It has beautiful sandy beaches, rocky shores and the 452ft Beinn Airein with its panoramic view of the surrounding islands, and beyond to Skye and the mainland. It also has a high population of highland ponies which add its magical allure. www.isleofmuck.com
- Check out the wildlife…. The Small Isles have an abundance of wildlife. Canna has designated a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive, for its large population of breeding sea birds, ideal for those trepid bird watchers. Eigg is a diverse island with wildflowers and arctic-alpines, otters hunting along the coastline and birds of prey soaring high above. Seals, dolphins and minke whales are often spotted from the ferry. Eigg’s current bird list totals 212 species. For guided walks with the Scottish Wildlife Trust Ranger on Eigg go to: www.isleofeigg.org/events
- Discover island history…. Canna also major importance for the archaeology, history and culture of the Inner Hebrides and west coast of Scotland from the earliest prehistoric times to the present day. It is believed that Muck was occupied during Mesolithic times, and a dagger and a number of burial cairns have also been found which date back to the Bronze Age. www.visitscotland.com/hha2017
- Stay in a bothy… Rum also has two mountain bothies perfect for those who are getting lost in its brilliant landscape. Check out www.isleofrum.com/placestostay
- ….or camp out under the stars Wild camping is also allowed on all of the Small Isles for those who want to truly be at one with nature.
- Get on your bike (or in a kayak)…. A company called Eigg Adventures hires out bikes and kayaks, as well as organising guided tours (www.eiggadventures.co.uk).
- Make friends with the locals… The Isle of Rum Community Shopis run entirely on a voluntary basis by members of the community and includes a post office so you can send a postcard to the folks back home!
- Find a favourite new ale… Eigg is home to its own microbrewery Laig Bay Brewery. Cheers! https://laigbaybrewingco.wordpress.com/
- Live the ‘good life’….. The Earth Connections Eco Centre runs residential eco courses and holidays to promote green living, which fits in well with the whole green ethos of Eigg. www.earthconnections.co.uk
- Try the local delicacies… Visitors to Muck are also encouraged to try Muck meat, which is famed for its succulent lamb and tender steak. www.isleofmuck.com
- Leave the car at home …. Cars are not permitted (or needed) to access the beauty and features of the Small Isles. Simply put one foot in front of the other or bring your two wheelers!
From London: Fly from London to Glasgow, or take the Caledonian Sleeper to Fort William, then travel by train to Mallaig to travel to the isles by ferry.
For more information on Scotland’s Small Isles, visit go www.visitscotland.com
Notes to editors
2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology began on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
- The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
- For more information visit visitscotland.com/HHA2017 or join the conversation at #HHA2017
- VisitScotland launched its global Spirit of Scotland campaign in 2016. To find our more go to www.visitscotland.com Join the conversation by using #ScotSpirit
- Spirit of Scotland PR activity is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2014 to 2020. The Scottish Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme.
- VisitScotland’s Community site was set up for the Scottish public to help, engage and enthuse potential visitors about the country. To get involved go to: www.visitscotland.com/community
- For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
- For VisitScotland’s press releases go to http://www.visitscotland.org/media_centre.aspx, tourism statistics and frequently asked questions go to http://www.visitscotland.org/