Planning a holiday to the Small Isles?

Updated: Jun 20


The Small Isles are an archipelago of islands in the Inner Hebrides, off the west coast of Scotland. The Gaelic name Na h-Eileanan Tarsainn is literally "cross isles" referring to their position between the Lochaber Mainland and The Outer Isles.

Although closely situated, each of the islands differ greatly in terms of both landscape and history. Take a tour round the islands and discover their stories, communities and characters.


Before you go

  • Check out our travel guide here. There are two main ways of travelling to the islands from the Scottish mainland - from Mallaig and Arisaig. Please ensure that you can carry all your luggage on and off the ferry/ boat.

  • View the local weather forecast before you go.

  • Holidaying between June - September? Be prepared with midge repellent.

  • All of the isles have points where you can fill up with fresh water. Consider taking a reusable bottle to avoid plastic waste.

  • Also consider packing a pair of binoculars not only for your stay but for your boat trips to and from the islands. There are regular sightings of whales, dolphins, eagles and much more from around the isles.


Canna


Known as ‘the garden of the Hebrides’, Canna has fertile soils, green meadows and a variety of wildlife. It has been recognised as a bird sanctuary since 1938, and supports over 20,000 breeding seabirds, including puffins, razorbills and guillemots. Canna is connected to the smaller island of Sanday by bridge to the south-east of the island


With over 1,000 sites of historic interest (Canna is thought to have been inhabited since 5000 BC) and a rich Gaelic heritage, Canna is not only a wonderful place to visit but also to live.



Need to know:

  • Visit the Isle of Canna website for information on facilities, accommodation and activities.

  • Check out our two week combined trip itinerary to Rum and Canna here.

  • Food is available at the wonderful Cafe Canna or from Canna Community Shop. Always open and run on an honesty system all profits go back into the community to support local projects.

  • Visit The Puffin Stacks on Sanday (a small island connected to Canna by road bridge) from late April to late July to view puffins and other seabirds.

  • Take in a beautiful sunset from Sanday beach or in Autumn/ Winter take in the spectacle of the sun sinking straight into the Atlantic over Hyskeir Lighthouse.

  • The Canna Ranger Service organises regular events throughout the summer months. Check here for more information.

  • There is sporadic mobile phone coverage available on the island. Canna has a working red phone box next to the post office.



Eigg


Eigg is the second largest of the Small Isles but the most populous with just over 110 people resident on the island. Community owned since 1997, the island has a thriving green community (producing about 90% of its electricity from renewables), fascinating history and superb wildlife. Its distinctive outline is down to An Sgurr peak (the rocky peak), the largest pitchstone ridge in Europe which makes a wonderful walk with outstanding views across the Small Isles and beyond.


With a variety of walks, an abundance of wildlife, stunning white beaches and the world’s first fully renewably powered electricity grid, it’s a wonderful place to explore and return to again and again.



Need to know:

  • Visit the Isle of Eigg website for information on facilities, accommodation and activities.

  • Eigg Adventures provides bike, e-bike and kayak hire. They can also provide archery lessons, guided walks and organise sailing trips.

  • There are lots of places to get food on Eigg:

  • Galmisdale Bay Cafe & Bar

  • Lageorna Restauarant

  • The Isle of Eigg shop If you are visiting the island you can email your order to orders@isleofeiggshop.com (preferably 10 days in advance). There is a £5 charge for a pre-order/ delivery service.

  • Rest and be Thankful - in Cleadale serves very tasty home-baking.

  • From Eigg you can take a day trip to:

  • Rum on a Tuesday (2.5 hrs on Rum) or

  • Muck on Wednesdays and Saturdays (as well as Mondays throughout July and Aug). This allows for 3hrs on Muck.

  • Please note that sailing times are subject to change. Check here for the most timely information on departures.


Muck

The smallest of the Small Isles covering an area of 6 sq km with a population of 38 people. The Isle of Muck is the perfect place to get away, relax, and enjoy wonderful wildlife and scenery. Ideal for families, wildlife enthusiasts, walkers and anyone who has a love for the outdoors. With white sandy beaches, secluded bays and an impressive range of wildlife including whales, porpoises, seals, eagles, puffins and much more, you’ll never want to leave.



Need to know:

  • Visit the Isle of Muck website for information on facilities, accommodation and activities.

  • The Tearoom is open during the summer months providing homemade lunches, morning coffees and afternoon teas. During peak summer months, dinner can be booked on specific evenings

  • Complete the Isle of Muck coastal circuit (14km’s) and take in all the natural beauty of the island.

  • There isn’t a shop on the island so take food provisions with you. Either purchase a food shop at the Co-op in Mallaig before getting on the ferry or email mallaig.store@coop.co.uk with your food order the day before the ferry and call to pay for supplies between 6-7am on the day of the ferry. The items will then be boxed up, with your name and island and put on the boat to the island.

  • You can order lamb (including cuts of mince, cutlet chops, loin chops, shanks, diced, rolled shoulders and whole or half legs) from the local farm (01687 462362 info@isleofmuck.com/ Colin & Ruth MacEwen) and fresh shellfish (lobsters, brown crab & prawns of various sizes) from The Little Red Boat (orders@thelittleredboat.com t 01687 462136 m 07444 799 787).

  • Visitors can also visit Gallanach Lodge for meals. Make a reservation here.

  • The Community Hall was completed in 2012 for islanders and visitors to use. It is open 24/7 with public toilets, shower, washing machine, sports facilities, pool, foosball, library, heritage area and wi-fi. Donations for use.

  • The Green Shed, between the pier and The Tearoom, Port Mor (a small traditional corrugated building) is where local islanders sell handmade gifts and local produce. It works on an honesty box basis. There is also a defibrillator stored here.

  • Families/ groups can charter trips around the Small Isles on local boat - MV Lochan). Contact Colin MacEwen for prices/ availability t: 01687 462362 colinmacewen@hotmail.com

  • Visitors are warmly welcomed to the island and invited to take part in any event that happens to be going on at the time of their visit.


Rum


Rum is the largest of the Small Isles and a real jewel in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, diamond in shape and diamond by nature. The island is renowned for both its wildlife and geology, has a thriving craft scene and year round calendar of events for visitors including kayak and yoga weekend sessions, foraging walks and stargazing events. As you approach the island by boat, your attention will naturally be drawn towards the Rum Cuillin, a spectacular and rugged mountain range which attracts mountain lovers and walkers from all over the world. But there are also a range of lower level walks to suit all abilities.



Need to know:

  • Visit the Isle of Rum website for information on facilities, accommodation and activities.

  • Check out our two week combined trip itinerary to Rum and Canna here.

  • A trip to Kim’s kitchen for a slice of cake and tea or a meal made from locally sourced ingredients is a must.

  • Visit the craft shop by the red phone box or pop into the Rum shop for a variety of goods including locally brewed Askival Rum. You can pre-order food on the website ready to pick when you arrive.

  • There are a number of events planned throughout the year including a foraging walk, a kayak and yoga weekend and stargazing weekend. Check with Rum bunkhouse for more details.

  • Traverse the Rum Cuillin - a challenging but spectacular route with incredible views over the Hebrides (5 peaks, 13 miles). If you have less time or want to do a shorter walk then the two closest summits to Kinloch - Hallival and Barkeval give incredible views and shorten the walk to 8.5miles.



Scottish Outdoor Access Code

In Scotland, you can go on to most land to enjoy the outdoors – as long as you behave responsibly. This is known as Scottish access rights and is different to the position in England and Wales. When you are enjoying the outdoors, you must follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Further advice on wild camping is available from NatureScot here.


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