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Scotland's hidden gems - 7 wee islands you must see

Gigha beach with heather



Scotland's hidden gems - 7 wee islands you must see


We're not for a minute saying that you shouldn't visit Scotland's larger west coast islands, like Arran, Mull and Skye. But sometimes it's good to get off the beaten track. The small islands dotted throughout the west coast each have their own charm. Here's a quick guide to a few of these hidden gems.



The most southerly of the Hebrides, Gigha is a remarkable wee island that is a model of self-sustainability. The local community bought the island in 2002, and now sells electricity generated by their wind turbines back to the National Grid. Gigha is renowned for its excellent halibut. You can find it in fine dining restaurants all over the UK, but it tastes best in Gigha's cosy Boathouse, where you can have freshly-caught local lobster and oysters too. If you're an avid gardener don't miss the Achamore Gardens, while a nine‑hole golf course is on hand too.



Colonsay is like a sort of 'Hebrides in Miniature'. You'll find white sandy beaches (Kiloran Bay is among the finest in Scotland), little hills to climb, as well as the charms of Colonsay Ale, which you can try onboard the CalMac ferry before you reach the island. Colonsay House Gardens has the finest rhododendron collection in Scotland, while the island's golf course features some spectacular holes.



Just northwest of Oban, many people sail by Lismore on the Oban-Mull ferry and notice how charming it looks, but never get around to visiting it. Lismore is relatively low lying, which means from its southern half there are glorious views south to the mountains of Mull, west across to Morvern and north to Ben Nevis. Walking anywhere here is a joy as is a visit to the romantic ruins of Achadun Castle, which feels very Outlander.



The Small Isles (Rum, Eigg, Canna and Muck) lie just south of Skye and can all be reached by CalMac ferry. The most prominent is Rum, whose very own Cuillin mountains echo the peaks of Skye itself. These hills offer some serious thrills to the well prepared. There are low level walks too, as well as the elegant joy of Victorian creation Kinloch Castle.



Eigg's long extinct volcano is topped by the 393m high summit of An Sgurr. This striking peak is much easier to hike up than it looks from afar. The island has been run by a community trust since 1997, and, like Gigha, the island generates all its electricity from renewable energy sources. If you want to expend your own energy, contact Eigg Adventures who run guided walks, bike rides and kayak trips. And look out for a flurry of wildlife as you explore the island.



Canna is owned by the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), who balance the needs of the island's human population with protecting its treasure trove of wildlife and unspoilt landscapes. It's a great place for spotting sea eagles, dolphins, whales and basking sharks. The NTS has also tamed Canna's wilds and renovated Canna House Walled Garden, so you can relax there for an hour or two, soothed by birdsong.



Muck may only measure 2 miles by 1 mile, but it is extremely fertile, as testified by its rich cloak of wildflowers. The view from 137m high Beinn Airein is breath-taking. Why not visit the sandy beach at Gallanach, followed by a lunch of local produce? They usually manage to secure the best of the shellfish caught in Muck's creels at Gallanach Lodge.



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