Picnic spot on Laig beach, Isle of Eigg

Walking on the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides

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.

An Sgurr, Isle of Eigg
Leaving the hostel, walking towards An Sgurr, Isle 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.

Banana ice cream on our Eigg walk
Banana ice cream on our Eigg walk

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.

Walk from Blar Dubh plantation towards Laig, Eigg
Walk from Blar Dubh plantation towards Laig, Eigg

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.

Walking towards Laig bay, Eigg
Walking towards Laig bay, Eigg

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.

Walk down to Laig beach, Isle of Eigg
Walk down to Laig beach, Isle of Eigg

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.

Crossing the stones on Laig beach, Eigg
Crossing the stones on Laig beach, Eigg

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.

The path to Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg
The path to Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg

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.

View of Rum from Laig beach, Isle of Eigg
View of Rum from Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg

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!

Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg
Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg

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.

Welly stile, Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg
Welly stile, Singing Sands beach, Isle of Eigg

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!

The Cleadale road, Eigg
The Cleadale road, Eigg

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.

Walk to Cathedral Cave, Isle of Eigg
Walk to Cathedral Cave, Isle of Eigg

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.

Cathedral Cave, Isle of Eigg
Cathedral Cave, Isle of Eigg

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.

Massacre cave, Isle of Eigg
Massacre cave, Isle of Eigg

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.

More info:

  • 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.
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24 thoughts on “Walking on the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides”

  1. What a stunning place to walk! It reminds me a bit of the South West Coast Path which we did in August – only a bit more rugged!
    You reminded me that my old primary school teacher (who still tutors my kids now!) actually came from the Isle of Eigg!

    1. That’s some coincidence – I think there are less than 100 residents on the island and many of these are relatively recent arrivals!

  2. Hi Christine, the Isle of Eigg seems like a perfect get away for anyone wanting a holiday away from it all. The pictures you’ve taken are stunning, I can almost smell the salty air. Eating an egg sandwich whilst gazing out over the sea seems a perfect lunch to me…Love the idea of reusing old wellies to make a stile.

    How sad is the story of the Massacre Cave? I’m not a keen on entering caves, I’d rather look at pictures or just peek in. We went in some stunning ones in South Africa, but I’d only go as far as the big cavern bit (which was amazing in itself) and not into the narrow tunnels, just don’t like the feel of them.

    xx

    1. The welly stile was a great idea although I wasn’t immediately sure that I wanted to put my hands on the upturned wellies. In my head, the bottom of wellies are always muddy but these were perfectly clean!

  3. This is a wonderful blog post. I’ve rarely read/seen anything that has made me totally want to go to a place RIGHT NOW. It looks unspoilt, beautiful, just fabulous for a family holiday. Just wish we could pack up and go (though I fear it might be cold right now.). Love it.

    1. Thanks Sarah. We were so lucky with the weather which made a huge difference. I’m sure we would have enjoyed ourselves in the rain too but everything looks better when the sun is shining.

  4. It looks like the Isle of Eigg is a beautiful place to explore, the perfect place for a family walking holiday. The views from both walks look truly breathtaking and I’m sure sitting on the log with the view of Rum was a spectacular experience. I’m sure you all had an amazing holiday totally returning to nature. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    1. The view has made me wasn’t to visit Rum one day, in fact I could easily spend a whole summer visiting the islands (now that’s an idea!).

  5. What a wonderful place, and what a fabulous day for a walk, the sky is so clear! My kids are always a bit lazy when it comes to walking, but ice cream and rhubarb pie sounds like the perfect incentive 😉

    1. My kids don’t always like the idea of going for a walk but once we’re outside they’re usually fine. Incentives are always required though (for me as well as them).

  6. I’ve never heard of Eigg. I’m on the other side of the world! But I know I would enjoy it, based on your beautiful photos and description. If I ever do visit, I would love to have a picnic there too.

    1. Hi Lisa, we’re in the UK already so travelled to Mallaig (ferry port on north west coast of Scotland) by train and car then took the 1.5 hour ferry journey over to Eigg.

  7. I am in love with scenery and your photos. The Bay of Laig is absolutely stunning. I think I really must come here one day. It looks like the perfect family day out – a walk, ice cream and gorgeous views. The story of the cave is rather tragic – how awful. Thanks for linking up with #MondayEscapes

  8. I don’t think I could cope with the Massacre Cave (although never let it be said that they didn’t try to warn you with the name) but other than that Eigg sounds like my idea of a perfect holiday destination. If I had a bucket list, it would now be on it.

    1. I have (in my head) a bucket list which contains all the exotic places I want to visit, mostly in South America. Eigg would never have made it onto the list but in retrospect it’s probably better than many of the places I yearn to visit!

  9. Pingback: Monday Escapes #20
  10. I love all the helpful details and pics in this post, particularly about the Singing Sands beach. I wish I had your post back when we visiting Eigg in 2009. We didn’t know what we doing back then but evenutally found out way and really enjoyed that beach with my little kids. I’m excited to read more of your posts and collect ideas for future trips. Thanks! If you ever come to Switzerland, I’d be happy to give you some tips for hiking with your kids.

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