The Small Isles - Eigg

"Are there any beaches round here?"
The plaintive question interrupted my thoughts and I turned from the long view out the Small Isles, to see a dissapointed looking woman peering at me curiously. I smiled. After all, this was Arisaig. Granted, the weed covered boulder strewn shoreline before us did not quite match the promise of silver sands but then those sands are far from difficult to find...
Having directed her to the nearest, most accesible beach I could think of - still a beautiful spot - we moved on to find a quieter spot from which to launch. Neither of us had any desire to answer the questions of those staring curiously at our kayaks, and in the shade of an old oak, we loaded our boats in peace, contemplating the crossing ahead.
Strong winds had been forecast for the area immediately south - their strength diminishing rapidly north of Ardnamurchan - and we were confident it would be a smooth trip.
Passing through the skerries we were immediately amongst the idyllic reefs, sand bars and seals that make the area justifiably popular.
Neither of us however expected the sea to be quite so calm...
...and as temperatures soared we scanned the flat blue horizon for whales - rewarded only with sightings of porpoises who followed our crossing noisily some distance to either side.
Flat seas made for a quick passage across the sound, landing less than two hours later on the beach beside Rubha nan Tri Chlach - a diminutive point on the north east shore of Eigg.
Continuing north and then west beneath Dunan Thalasgair, the limestone cliffs were thrown into sharp relief, the steep grassy slopes mirrored upon glassy green seas.
Turning the corner to enter Camas Sgiotaig, I was unsurprised to see two parties of sea kayakers already camped above the beach. Eigg is most likely on every paddler's wish list - indeed it is one of the reasons I have not visited before now. Ridiculous as it sounds, it has always seemed a little too obvious. Still, the trip suited our purposes perfectly this weekend, though neither of us were overly keen on squeezing in amongst the 'crowds'.
Paddling on, Rum floated between azure skies and a cobalt sea, the sun still strong despite the hour.
Landing late in the evening we chatted for some time with an amiable local - we had approached to check no-one would mind us camping in our intended spot - and were regaled with tales of the buy-out of Eigg; the islanders' resourcefulness in securing everything from electricity to broad-band...out of the corner of my eye I noted a washing line, strung conveniently between two poles above the beach and beside it, a drift wood table, its surface at 15 degrees from the horizontal and upon it: three unattended cans of beer. Perfect...
...and a sunset to match.
Temperatures dropped sharply overnight bringing one of those mornings that one wishes would last forever. Cattle moved across the beach as the shadows receeded on the Cuillin of Rum across the sound.
I watched the day unfold from the dunes above - a moment of quiet content...
...but leave we must - the waiting kayak - how I love this way of life, the places I have seen, the wild beauty that I know will draw me back.
Passing beneath the imposing cliffs of Eigg's west coast, sunlight catches the boulders strewn beneath as we weave our way south... pass beneath what is perhaps the most distinctive summit of any of Scotland's islands - An Sgurr.
We dallied ahile beneath the pier of Galmisdale before starting the crossing, back towards the skerries of Arisaig. Midway the winds freshened, a lively F4 harrying from the north sending cool spray flying as we ran across the waves.
Amongst the skerries, nothing more than a gentle breeze brushed the surface as we moved silently above white sands and emerald waters, pausing now and then, comitting the scene to memory before landing quietly beneath the oaks to unload and make the journey south once more.


Philip Norris said…
Beautiful,... Will!
Ian said…
What a great post Will - meaningful words and superb images

Kind Regards
Will Herman said…
Thank you Ian and Phil - it was a superb trip - short but sweet!