So our island hopping time comes to an end today. I’m currently sat in a shepherds hut on the Isle of Eigg, which is a stunningly beautiful little island, a mixture of glacial and volcanic land formations. The weather has been remarkably kind to us, unlike the midges and the flying ants, which have been less forgiving.
Due to a failure to read the ferry timetable, we didn’t realise that the ferry actually takes about 5 hours calling at Canna and Mallaig on its way from Rum to here. That meant our first day was rather brief, being a run to the shop and then a wander out along what turned out to be the path we were taking the next day.What was quite stunning though was watching the mist descending on the glen and looking at the hills and moorland disappearing into it.Amusingly for almost our entire walk we were joined by a small dog that jogged alongside us, peeing on every large shrub and being terrified and run-off by a very fierce lamb.
The next day dawned clearish and we headed for the opposite coat of the island, where there’s an arts and crafts church, a crofting museum and a little teashop. We followed an increasingly invisible path that led us to…a patch of bracken, then turned back and found the right route. One of the exciting things about this place is there are few enough visitors that many of the paths are barely discernable.Eventually, with the help of the map and a mixture of faith and luck we made it to the path down the steep cliff to the beach where we perched for lunch and watched the tan coloured sand washing over and across the volcanic black sands. It’s amazing to watch and quite mesmerizing.
Eventually we made our way up to the church, which has apparently been restored from ruins, and then to the fascinating little crofting museum. It’s more about the life of the people than the process of crofting and is in what was once a blackhouse (the crofting houses originally had no windows and the small, low, thatched buildings were heated (and probably kept midge free) by a continuously burning peat fire that left the walls and the roof blackened with soot). The house the museum’s in was a blackhouse that in the early 20th century was improved with the use of a loan – adding a bit of height to the walls and a gable roof made from galvanised steel.It turned it from a one room house to one with a kitchen / best room and a couple of bedrooms. The museum really tells the story of the lives of the generations of the family that lived there…
We pootled from there down to our next stop, the cafe… Which disappointingly turned out to be closed for a few days. Understandable as the owner’s daughter is apparently graduating (congratulations! :) ) So instead started wending our way back up the steep climb out of Cleadale and back over to Galmisdale where the shepherd’s hut lurks.Despite extremely soggy, and in my case malodorous and somewhat sore feet(thanks to the shoe rubbing on a bite), the isle worked it’s magic, making us both find of the idea of living there. It seems that many of the islands occupants are understandably very aware of the impact of climate change, the island is dependent on the Gulf Stream for it’s weather patterns and sea level rise would destroy a lot of the existing infrastructure. So it’s not entirely surprising that the island’s population, who teamed up to buy the island from a lackadaisical landlord in the midst of an investigation, have made the island 100% renewable powered. Although waste does still seem to be burned, as there’s no rubbish collection, just metal and glass recycling.
On the ferry, we have trundled to Muck, and are now making our way to Mallaig, Where we’ll be going on a train to our next destination. We managed to cram in a visit to the Massacre Caves in which apparently, the entire population of the island was, at one point in history, murdered in one go, presumably to clear the island.It’s a weirdly beautiful place, the island has a whole bunch of natural cave formations around the coast, and the volcanic rock has eroded in an incredible way, whatever the horror of its history.
So we head back to the mainland for the much more sociable but of our trip. We have a couple of days near Fort William, then a sleeper (ha!) train to catch, before heading to see friends and family. For that we have hired an EV. Specifically a Kona EV. I hope we don’t like it more than Raven (our Niro EV).