Cracking Eigg

It is one of Scotland's most recognisable mountains.

The An Sgurr, better known as the Sgurr of Eigg, rises a modest 393m (1289ft) from the Inner Hebridean island off Scotland's west coast.

We regularly glimpse the Small Isles as we ride and drive around Ardnamurchan where we live, and it's always the Sgurr that tempts us.  "Why have we never climbed it?", we'd ask ourselves.  With settled a period of cold, bright winter days Liz suggested we right that wrong, and the next day we were on the ferry at Mallaig.  

This isn't a narrative account of our three-day, two-night trip.  Take a look at the video for that.  This is the resources sections, the news-you-can-use if you feel inspired to visit.

Caledonian MacBrayne - CalMac - operates the ferry from Mallaig to Eigg.  Summer and Winter timetables are different, and because the boat has to get around all the Small Isles (Muck, Canna, Rum and Eigg) the timings are different day to day.

Essentially there are two communities on the island.  One on the South East corner, and one on the North West, with the island's only tarmac road running between.  It's about 3.5 to 4 miles between the two.  Islanders will see a more nuanced community structure, but that will do.  

There are camping and/or camping pod options in both communities and B&B / Guest Houses.  A hostel lies somewhere between the two, although it is nearer the south end.  There's a good cafe where the ferry comes in; it serves cooked meals and doubles as a bar in the evenings.  There's also a gift shop and the island's only community store alongside.  

Cafe, shop & community hub

This wee hub is where it all happens, so if you're cooking for yourself, and you didn't buy everything you need at the Coop in Mallaig, stock up here with whatever the boat brought in.  

We went for the luxury end of the accommodation.  We stayed at Lageorna, a restaurant with two double/twin rooms and an enviable view across to Rum.  It's run by Sue who has been on Eigg for more than forty years, since before the Community Trust bought the island with the help of the Scottish Government.  I'll not go into all the details, but after changing hands a few times between wealthy landowners, both the community and politicians thought enough was enough.  You can read about the history here.


Lageorna's rooms are lovely, the meals are excellent, and Sue kindly made an exception to her rule and allowed our dog Maggie to stay in our room.  It's in the top left corner of Eigg in the Cleadale community, so if you're bringing luggage, it's best to book Charlie's taxi to carry your bag the 3.5 miles (cost me £10 one way 01687 482404).  

That leaves you free to tackle the Sgurr of Eigg right off the boat.

Charlie's taxi

 Here's the Walk Highlands description of the Sgurr of Eigg route.

If the Sgurr is the must-do hike, then the circuit of the north end, including the 'Finger of God' is next on the tick list.  There's a steep start as you'll see in the video, and we combined this high level circuit with a coastal walk along the Singing Sands to the Bay of Laig.  You'll find all our GPS tracks on the Komoot map, including the bit of the first day where we missed a turning and had to go back.

The Finger of God

Walk Highlands description.

On our third day the ferry departed at 13:55 so we had time to tackle something else, although with the sun not reaching this side of the island until 10am it was not an early start.  Liz wanted a swim and it was a good opportunity to shoot some photos for the wetsuit company BlueSeventy.  Had we not done this, we would have definitely visited the Cathedral Cave and Massacre Cave, tucked in below the Sgurr.  On a long summer day, they could have been included in our first day hike.

Walk Highland description.  Planned Komoot route, not done.

Two nights and three days felt like a long break, and we were pleased we were not in peak season.  There's sometimes a 'them-and-us' attitude from locals towards tourists, something I can be guilty of too.  There's the joke about the crofter on Skye who reportedly said, "why can't they just stay home and post us their money".  

It's worth always bearing in mind that you're entering, albeit temporarily, a community where everyone knows everyone else's business.  You're not going to be part of it, unless you live there and last a few winters.  Still, it's well worth a visit.