The Small Isles
Eigg - Canna - Muck - Rum
Whilst visiting the area please allow yourself the opportunity to travel over the sea to the Small Isles. If you want to experience rural living then stay over and get to truly experience the heart of a small highland community. Steeped in history, mythology and geology the Small Isles are one of 40 National Scenic Areas in Scotland. Abundant with wildlife, plants, archeology, culture and wildlife. The vibrant traditional music scene also comes alive in the height of the summer and a ceilidh can often be experienced whilst visiting. Local produce and arts and crafts can be purchased on all four Islands.
What are the small Isles ?
The small Isles are a small archipelago of Islands in the Inner Hebrides, off the West Coast of Scotland. They lie just off the west coast at the junction of the Sound of Arisaig and the Sound of Sleat. South of Skye and noth of Mull and Ardnamurchan - the most westerly point of mainland Britain. Caledonian MacBrayne operates a regular passenger ferry from Mallaig all year round. Arisaig Marine operates day trips from Arisaig from April to September (telephone 01687 450224).
In the summer months, combined bus/ferry packages are available from Fort William so you can visit some of the Small Isles on a day trip with Shiel Buses and Caledonian Macbrayne.
Isle of Eigg
In 1997, the islanders set up the Eigg Heritage Trust with the assistance of various bodies to buy the island which had a turbulent past. Now owned by the Trust, Eigg offers a variety of scenery, wildlife and a get-away-from-it-all feeling for the visitor.
The dramatic Sgurr in the south can be reached by a variety of routes and gives superb views. Near its base is the Massacre Cave - scene of an infamous slaughter by clansmen from neighbouring islands during the Clan Wars. In the north is Largs Bay with its famous singing sands. Golden Eagles live on the high basalt cliffs to the north-east and the waters round the island are home to seals, whales, dolphins and otters.
Isle of Canna
Canna is the most westerly of the four Small Isles and covers 3000 acres. Previously owned by John Lorne Campbell, it was given to the National Trust for Scotland in 1981. The island is farmed by the NTS and has several working crofts and a small population of less than 15. The island has been a bird sanctuary since 1938 and the 157 different species of birds have been monitored annually since 1969. Canna has many sites of archaeological interest, including nine scheduled monuments, and has links to the Neolithic, Columban and Viking eras. The Canna Local History Group preserves information about the island's history. The little church and St Columba's chapel are both open to visitors. Connected to Canna by a wooden bridge is the tidal island of Sanday where St. Edward's Chapel has been converted into the Camus Arts Centre.
Isle of Muck
The smallest of the Small Isles group and the most fertile. Muck has a population of about 46, mainly living round the tiny harbour of Port Mor. For a small island Muck has a lot to offer, from the white sandy beaches and clear sea waters of Gallanach bay, to the dramatic cliffs on the south and west sides of the island. Beinn Airein (451ft) provides dramatic views of Muck and the surrounding islands. Muck has a rich and diverse wildlife population, ranging from a wide variety of birdlife, including regular sitings of Golden eagles and Sea eagles, to sitings of whales, sharks, porpoises, dolphins, and otters. There is also a large seal colony on the reefs in Gallanach bay. Muck is an interesting island to explore, with plenty of bays and beaches for adventures, and a perfect get away for wildlife enthusiasts, families, artists, and those who enjoy the outdoors.
Muck welcomes visitors all year round, and has a range of accommodation available including a catered lodge, guest house, self-catering holiday cottages, bed & breakfast, bunkhouse and yurt. The Port Mor Guest House, and Gallanach Lodge offer evening meals (please call in advance to check availability). Campers are also very welcome. www.isleofmuck.com
Isle of Rum
Bought by the Scottish Natural Heritage in 1957, Rum is one of Scotland's finest National Nature Reserves. The island is a haven for a variety of birds and animals including sea eagles, deer, goats, otters, seals and many others, and provides a superb opportunity for detailed research.
The Community Trust Ranger Service offers guided walks and evening talks from April to October - Tel: 01687 462404 or email [email protected] Visitors are welcome to follow the nature trails laid out around the village of Kinloch. The otter hide is situated along a path which is easily reachable from the ferry terminal (turn left at the top of the pier).