Eigg, as the centre of the Small Isles Parish, has always been the most populated of the four islands. It used to be the place where the minister, the priest and the doctor for the four islands were located. It is also the island where crofting has been most actively maintained, allowing its indigenous population to remain on the island rather than look elsewhere for their living. To this day, Cleadale at the north western end of the island main road, remains the main centre of population.
A pioneering island community in more ways than one!
Eigg is also known for being one of the earliest Scottish community buy-outs, and helped to usher new community landrights when the Scottish Parliament was reinstated in 2000. When ownership passed to the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust on 12 June 1997, after decades of uncertainty, it placed the islanders' destiny in their own hands for the first time ever. Anniversary celebrations for this historic event take place every year on the weekend closest to that date! Much has been achieved by the islanders since their take-over of the island and their proudest achievement to date is the completion of their very own Green Grid, providing the islanders with 24 hour renewable energy from wind, water and sun.
A haven for wildlife
One of the stakeholders in the Eigg Heritage Trust, alongside the islanders and the Highland Council is the Scottish Wildlife Trust, who now manage the island as a nature reserve with weekly guided walks. Eigg is well known for its SSSI's, its two pairs of Golden Eagles and its tremendous variety of habitats. Not only it is the most wooded of the four islands, but its many sandy beaches, easily accessed, will delight young and old.
The island is extremely distinctive in views from the mainland: the steep rise to the plateau that characterises the northern half of the island and its most distinctive feature, the near vertically-sided crag of An Sgurr, which looms above the southern end of the island. Hillwalkers will enjoy the challenge of An Sgurr, a steep walk taking you to 393m or 1290ft above sea-level. From there, outstanding views of the island's moorland lochs, of the mainland peaks and of the Inner and Outer Hebrides can be enjoyed on a clear day. Have a look at the aerial video shot by Ben Cormack
Community hub at the pier
Eigg's only pier lies at the south east end of the island in Galmisdale. A new slipway was completed in Autumn 2004, finally allowing the Mallaig ferry to berth and doing away with the need for passengers and goods to transfer to and from a flit boat. The Pier is now the focus of the island social life, especially in the summer months, with the island cafe and restaurant, the shop and the craftshop all situated under the one roof at An Laimhrig, the Pier centre.
Good local food
The pure crystal clear waters surrounding Eigg mean that the shellfish produce locally caught is of first class quality. Although there is now only one commercial fisherman in the Small Isles, there are opportunities to go fishing on Eigg and catch your own. Good food is of much importance to the islanders, and there is a huge rise in the availability of local food prepared with an international twist. Honey, preserves and organic croft produce are available as are tasty-takeaways and good cuisine with the various accommodation providers.
A place for history and culture
Cultural opportunities are not scarce on the island, with Feis Eige, the annual traditional arts tuition festival each July, and weekly trad sessions at the cafe with the residents musicians throughout the summer months. The island also boasts many historical sites and its local history society runs a well appointed photography archive located in the Community Learning Room at Eigg Primary School and a fascinating museum of crofting life in Cleadale. For those who enjoy expanding their horizons whilst on holiday, there are opportunities to work alongside visiting artists in residence coming to Eigg as part of the Bothy Project or to reconnect with nature, mind and body with the many activities on offer throughout the year such as Yoga, Qi Gong or Archery.
A view of holidays on Eigg
Listen to visitor Gary Ralston's thoughts about coming to Eigg as a child on holiday in 1982, and then returning with his children many years later to enjoy Eigg. Gary is a sportswriter based at the Daily Record's offices in Glasgow. He has covered sport extensively for the paper, including football World Cups in Germany and South Africa, the Beijing Olympics, Super Bowl, the rugby World Cup and Six Nations.