Glamisdale Bay, Isle of Eigg

Exploring the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides

Have you ever visited somewhere that felt so perfect that you didn’t want to leave? That’s how we felt after our short break on the Isle of Eigg.

Reached by a 1.5 hour ferry ride from Mallaig, Eigg is one of the Small Isles south of Skye. I’d been a little worried our journey would be choppy but the sea was calm. Instead the excitement was provided by the dolphins following our boat and a minke whale spotted blowing nearby.

Welcome to Eigg
Welcome to Eigg

Our Calmac ferry docked at Galmisdale, the main port on the island. We’d booked a self-contained flat annex at Glebe Barn which also offers hostel accommodation to visitors. Stuart, the owner, found us wandering on the pier, picked up our luggage and pointed out the house on the skyline, aptly comparing it to Father Ted’s house on Craggy Island. He explained we could either walk along the road or take the adventurous route via the shoreline. We played it safe and walked the road route for our first trip but soon realised the shoreline route was much quicker.

Glebe hostel, Isle of Eigg
Glebe Barn hostel, Isle of Eigg

The flat annexe consisted of a main living area, kitchen and bathroom. It usually sleeps 2 people but can accommodate 2 extra children if you don’t mind a bit of a squeeze in the bedroom. Although we had a separate entrance we were also connected to the rest of the hostel by an internal door. This was handy for the kids as they could pop down to the common room to play table football, their main source of entertainment. Unless you count watching golden eagles from the kitchen window!

Shell collecting on Glamisdale beach, Isle of Eigg
Shell collecting on Galmisdale beach, Isle of Eigg

After unpacking our bags we headed out to find the alternative route between the hostel and Galmisdale. The path from the hostel heads down through the bracken to meet up with the shoreline. Using this route it was, in theory, possible to walk to Galmisdale in about 20 minutes. However, this does not take into account stoppage time to sift through the shells at Galmisdale Bay beach.

Shells on Galmisdale beach
Shells on Galmisdale beach

I have visited several places which promote themselves as shell beaches. But the understated nature of Galmisdale Bay beach, which must contain hundreds of thousands of shells, makes it one of my favourites. Added to which the peace and views of the mainland make it a place I’ll remember for a long time.

Our planned destination was the cafe-bar near the pier in Galmisdale. Yet the shell beach wasn’t the only distraction. The light was perfect for photography and the boats in the harbour made for great subjects. Dragging ourselves away from the view we finally made it to the bar and rewarded ourselves with a drink.

Galmisdale, Isle of Eigg
Galmisdale, Isle of Eigg

Galmisdale Bay cafe, next to the pier, is a magnet for both tourists and residents. Open every day during the summer months it offers home baked food during the day, turning into a popular bar and restaurant most evenings.

Alongside the cafe we found the Isle of Eigg store and a small gift shop. We’d bought our own food with us as I wasn’t sure what was available on the island. I needn’t have bothered lugging bags of pasta as the store was well stocked although understandably more expensive than the mainland.

Galmisdale pier, Isle of Eigg
Galmisdale pier, Isle of Eigg

Leaving the bar we took the road route home as the sun was setting and we hadn’t bought torches with us. The sky turned pink and purple and it was difficult to keep our eyes on the road. Visitors are not allowed to bring cars on to the island so we were quite relaxed about road rules. However we soon discovered most of the locals had cars and some drove pretty fast, presumably because they weren’t expecting much traffic or pedestrians!

Sunset on the Isle of Eigg
Sunset on the Isle of Eigg

Eigg is 5 miles by 3 miles with plenty of walking opportunities. The next day we explored the north of the island, visiting the stunning beaches at Laig and Singing Sands. You can read more about our walks here.

As we walked we saw plenty of evidence of how environmentally aware the islanders are. Eigg generates its own electricity through a combination of hydroelectric, solar and wind power. Waste has to be burned or taken to the mainland so there’s imaginative local re-use and recycling.  Even the small school has been awarded the Eco-Schools Green Flag award.

View of the mainland from Isle of Eigg
View of the mainland from Isle of Eigg

On a sunny summer day I could imagine giving up a hectic life on the mainland and taking up crofting on Eigg. Back home a quick look on Rightmove threw up a couple of building plots and a house we’d admired in Galmisdale Bay. But we visited in summer. I’m pretty sure reality would kick in around October when the weather and a bored teen would take the shine off the idyll.

Boats, Galmisdale, Isle of Eigg
Boats, Galmisdale, Isle of Eigg

Later that day we still had some energy left after our walk in the north so it was time to return to our favourite shell beach. The kids found a rope swing over a stream nearby and messed about on this before heading towards the pier. As it was Sunday evening the cafe-bar was closed so no refreshment stop but we still enjoyed our evening stroll.

Galmisdale Bay, Isle of Eigg
Galmisdale Bay, Isle of Eigg

We spent the morning of our departure exploring the area around the Cathedral and Massacre caves before heading back into Galmisdale. On Monday mornings during the summer there’s a craft and produce market in the Community Hall, along with a cafe run by Eiggy Bread. We’d seen hardly anyone else on our Eigg walks so it was a shock to see so many people, both tourists and locals, in the hall for coffee and a chat. We soon realised why when we ate the best food of our holiday, a delicious plum and almond tart.

Isle of Eigg community hall
Isle of Eigg community hall

We still had a couple of hours to fill before our return ferry departed so took a final stroll along the coast. I spotted a colony of seals out on a group of rocks and we sat and watched them.

Seal watching, Isle of Eigg
Seal watching, Isle of Eigg

The funniest moment occurred when a gull flew in low over the seals and almost every one of them launched into the sea. It was hilarious to watch. I wonder whether this happens every time a gull flies over?

Seals, Isle of Eigg
Seals, Isle of Eigg

It was a reluctant walk back to the ferry pier. We’d only stayed for 2 nights but all of us had fallen for the island. Our departure was accompanied by the island piper, playing her bagpipes at the end of the pier. I’m not sure we’ll ever return to Eigg but our short visit will remain in my memory for a long time.

Boarding MV Lochnevis, Eigg to Mallaig ferry
Boarding MV Lochnevis, Eigg to Mallaig ferry

Read part two of our Isle of Eigg adventure here.

More info:

  • We travelled on the Caledonian Sleeper from London to Fort William, then picked up a hire car for the final stretch to Mallaig. Read more about our journey here.
  • We used the Calmac ferry from Mallaig to Eigg. A return ticket costs £13 for adults, children aged 5-15 years are half price.
  • The self-catering annexe at Glebe Barn costs £52 per night for 2 people. There is an additional charge of £12 per person if additional beds are used.
Share this:

26 thoughts on “Exploring the Isle of Eigg, Inner Hebrides”

  1. I had to click on this post as I had never heard of the Isle if Eigg and I was curious. And wow, how beautiful it is! You’ve taken some lovely photos, and it sounds like quite an adventure to get there too. A great idea for a holiday 🙂 Sabrina xx #whatevertheweather

    1. Thanks Sabrina. I’d only vaguely heard of Eigg before I started researching our holiday and also had no idea how beautiful it was.

  2. How wonderful! I’ve been to Skye several times, but I’m sorry to say that I haven’t made it to Eigg. I’m so glad you had a lovely time, that part of Scotland really is so incredibly beautiful x #whatevertheweather

    1. I had originally planned to go to Skye as I’ve been before and loved it. However I liked the appeal of a smaller less touristy island. Passing all the tourist coaches on the road from Fort William to Mallaig (where they’d got the ferry to from Skye) made me glad of our decision.

  3. I love our islands, I haven’t actually visited Eigg, but it’s on my list of places to visit, your photos really show it off to be absolutely stunning. I have often considered moving to the Isles too, but my husband is an arborist and I don’t think he would find a job anywhere but the mainland. Watching the wildlife is my kind of holiday! However I’ve never seen a Minke whale off the Scottish coast yet, despite being on numerous boat trips, so you are very lucky to have seen one on your trip. 🙂
    Thanks so much for linking up your lovely post to #Whatevertheweather 🙂 x

    1. I saw minke whale on the return journey too which was amazing. Evidently August is a great month for them, particularly between Arisaig (on mainland) and the Islands.

  4. Wow, what an adventure for you all, I bet it was a great reset for your system to be so far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The shot of them watching the seals is just fab, it’s great to see the teen enjoying the relaxation of Eigg. The landscape shots make it looks so remote and beautiful, I bet you hope to return one day. Thanks for linking up with me on Country Kids.

    1. My daughter loved Eigg and said she wanted to live there. But give it a few more years and I think she’d be desperate to escape 🙂

  5. This is so amazing from the shells on the beach to the plum and almond tart. Love the small community feel and the opportunities to see wildlife. This is a place I will make a note of for a short break one day.

  6. I want to go! What a breathtakingly beautiful isle to visit and with so much wildlife. When I read this it makes me realise that there are some gems of places to explore in the UK that we really must undertake.

  7. What a beautiful Island. I visited Colonsay years ago on a school trip and loved the peace and tranquility then – think your Island is even smaller, would love to visit #CountryKids

  8. Hi Christine, I’ve never heard of the Isle of Eigg before, but it sounds and looks perfect. Just watching the dolphins and minke whale would have got me hooked.

    The walks sound interesting, the scenery looks stunning and the wildlife fascinating. I thought the picture of the lone boat on stilts was pretty, until I scrolled down and saw the sunset. A place to retire maybe?

    I think the bagpipes being played as you departed the island must of been quite melancholy.

    The price of the stay doesn’t seem extortionate either!

    1. I’ve often thought about a retirement place in Scotland. I think we were very lucky with the weather though as it had rained for most of the summer before we arrived – I’m not sure I could survive without some sun and warmth!

  9. This sounds so wonderful and I can’t get over how great the price is!
    I’d love a holiday like this, it sounds perfect, peaceful and idyllic. The shells on the beach are stunning and the plum and almond tart sounds delicious. I love everything about this post, the pictures, the food, the rope swinging, shell hunting, bag pipe players! It really does sound like a perfect holiday. I can see why you’ve fallen in love. Thank you so much for linking up to #whatevertheweather x

  10. Wow, that sunset photo is simply stunning. I’ve never heard of the Isle of Eigg, but having stayed on Skye, I wish we had hopped over and experienced it. Looks wonderful, I can see why you didn’t want to leave! I’ve also never seen a shell beach… it’s amazing!

    1. Thanks Ting. Our original plan had been to go to Skye instead as that’s a beautiful island too. But Eigg was lovely in a completely different way – and receives far fewer tourists!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *