Saturday, 20 October 2012


People did some horrible things to each other during the days of clan warfare in Scotland. On the island of Eigg an event took place in 1577 which was an early example of the "gas chamber" method of ethnic cleansing. During a long-running feud between the MacLeods and the the MacDonalds of Clanranald, whose lands included Eigg, a fleet of galleys occupied by members of the MacLeod clan sailed to Eigg from Skye. On the approach of the fleet, all but two of the island's families hid in a cave called the Cave of Frances, but they were tracked down by their enemies, who lit a fire at the entrance to the cave, suffocating all 400 men, women and children therein. The only people to survive the massacre were the two families who did not join the others in the Cave of Frances, but went and hid in another cave.

Eigg is just four miles long, and its terrain can be explored by hiring a bike, a moped or a a pony. For those who want to explore under their own steam there are wonderful cliff-top walks and sandy bays to tramp along. Laig Bay has a large white beach with views across to the Cuillins of Rum. The island's dramatic scenery includes the "an Sgurr" pitchstone ridge, the largest of its kind in Europe. One of the most unusual features on the island is on a beach at the island's main settlement, Cleadale, where the "Singing Sands" reward the walker with the sound of music underfoot. The "singing" comes from the white sand formed of quartz which produces a creaking sound. There is plenty of interest on the island for birdwatchers, with a variety of raptors including the Golden Eagle, winter visitors Great Northern Diver and Jack Snipe and in summer Cuckoo, Whinchat, Whitethroat and Twite.

Map of the area.

Cleadale Beach looking towards Rum © 2008 Calum McRoberts, via Wikimedia Commons

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