This is part two of our Isle of Eigg adventure covering our family walks on the island. Pop over and read part one for more information about Eigg, our accommodation and where to eat.
The most famous walk on Eigg is to the summit of An Sgurr, the dramatic lump of rock you can see in the photo below. I wasn’t sure how suitable it was for the kids to climb so we chose a couple of less strenuous options.
Laig Bay and Singing Sands beach
Our first walk was to the north of the island to spend a day exploring the fabulous beaches of Eigg.
We set out from our accommodation, Glebe Barn Hostel, along the main road towards Cleadale. This took us past the village primary school and a small heritage centre which we stopped to have a look in. Next door my daughter nosed around the island swap shop; I had visions of her finding something large and bulky which we’d have to carry so I quickly retrieved her.
A better find was a sign outside a house which advertised home made ice cream. It was early in the day but it’s never too early for ice cream if you’re a kid! We sat outside, drinking coffee and enjoying the morning sunshine, whilst the kids ate some rather yummy banana ice cream.
Shortly after leaving our ice cream stop we veered away from the road and followed a track marked by dots up through the trees. The path continues across heather over some pretty boggy ground. It eventually led us to the gate shown above. Little did we know that after passing through the gap in the cliffs we would be treated to the stunning landscape below.
Looking across we could see the cliffs of Beinn Bhuidhe and below them the crofts which have opened up since the residents bought the island in 1997. Beside us was a kettle hole lochan formed by a retreating glacier, whilst in front was the Bay of Laig.
We walked down past a farmhouse onto Laig beach. As was usual in Scotland, we had the entire place to ourselves. A stream flowed down across the beach which proved slightly more difficult to cross with dry feet than you would imagine.
I was determined to eat an egg sandwich on Eigg so after finding the perfect picnic spot (the tree trunk in the top photo) we stopped for lunch. Sitting on Eigg, and looking across to the peaks of the Rum Cuillins I could think of nowhere else I’d rather be. I therefore declare this the best picnic spot in the UK but if you have any other contenders do let me know.
At low tide it is possible to walk along the beach from Laig to Singing Sands but the tide was too far in on our visit. Instead we detoured inland and crossed a field of cows (which my daughter hates). We passed a couple of bicycles in the field, temporarily left unlocked whilst the hirers visited the beach. The kids both remarked how you’d never be able to do this back home without them going walkabout.
Geologists would love Eigg. I didn’t really know what I was looking at but I could still pick out dykes, a rock arch and caves.
The beach at Singing Sands is so named because of the quartz sand grains which make a squeaky sound if you walk across them when dry. We managed to make some sounds by scuffing our boots along the sand but the term singing is rather fanciful!
We loved the welly stile below, a creative use of old boots. There were also a couple of sculptures on the beach made from items washed ashore. I’ve no idea who made them but they’re a fun and thought provoking addition.
Dragging ourselves away from the beach, and the views, we took the direct route back to the hostel along the main road. We were passed a couple of times by cars which had seen better days. I read afterwards that cars on Eigg are MOT exempt which explains a lot!
We’d underestimated how warm the day was going to be and hadn’t taken enough water to drink. It was with some relief when we found that the house selling ice cream and coffee was still open for business. Even better, the lady had just baked a rhubarb pie. It would have been rude not to sample it and it certainly helped power the final part of our walk home.
Cathedral and Massacre caves
Our second walk only took a couple of hours, although at low tide you could walk further. Starting out from the pier at Galmisdale this time we followed purple paint spots for about a mile until we reached the caves.
After our views of Rum the previous day this time we were facing the small island of Muck. We watched a couple of sea kayakers who were making the crossing over to Muck.
The path led down from the cliff onto the beach where we found our first cave of the day, Cathedral Cave. The cave was once used for Roman Catholic services hence its name. It has an impressively large entrance and can be explored at low tide as long as you remember to bring a torch.
The Massacre Cave looks less impressive from the front. It has however an incredibly sad history.
Back in 1577, as part of a long running feud with the Macleods of Skye everyone on the island hid in the cave to avoid detection. However footsteps were spotted in the snow leading to the cave and the Macleods lit a fire in the entrance. All 395 people who were hiding perished.
In the past visitors have been able to walk into the cave but a large lump of rock fell from the roof recently narrowly missing a couple. There are now signs at the entrance, and elsewhere on the island, warning not to enter. It was disappointing not to go in but I didn’t fancy a chunk of rock on my head!
To extend the walk there are several other caves and a couple of waterfalls further on along the beach but we were keen to visit the island produce and craft market back in Galmisdale so we simply retraced our route.
- The gift shop in Galmisdale sells a pack of postcards with details of the popular walks on Eigg. There is also a map near the pier which outlines the approximate routes of the walks. Alternatively, further walks are available on the Walk Highlands website which we found an invaluable resource.