Visit Eigg on a CalMac Adventure
Ever dreamt of owning your own wee treasure island? Well that is exactly what the 100 or so lucky souls can boast who both live on - and own - their wee slice of Hebridean paradise, the Isle of Eigg. The good news is that you are free to join them, as Robin McKelvie and his family found out when they sailed over to try our Visit Eigg trip with CalMac Adventures.
Getting to Eigg all part of the fun
I found out about the fantastic CalMac Adventures day trip programme and after wrangling with the decision of which destination to choose, we settled on the Small Isles. It's easy to book - just follow the booking instructions in the brochure or on the webpage. Travelling to Mallaig is easy - ScotRail provide a daily service from Glasgow Queen Street allowing you to ditch the car at home, or if you prefer driving and taking in the famous Road to the Isles route, you can reach the town from Glasgow in just over 3 hours. Frequent bus services are also available from the central belt and Fort William.
Getting to Eigg is all part of the fun - it's ideal for anyone who loves day trips by ferry and island hopping - I've brought my kids along for a proper family day trip on this most special of wee isles. Meet mummy Jenny, ten-year-old Tara and eight-year-old Emma.
Our trusty CalMac ferry is the MV Lochnevis, a powerful vessel purpose built for serving the quartet of Small Isles, of which Eigg is a shining star. We are already in the West Coast day trips mood enjoying Barra landed haddock in the ships Coffee Cabin with views out to Skye and Rum as we ease across the Atlantic in search of our island escape.
Two wheels are ideal for exploring Eigg
On arrival on Eigg we are met with beaming smiles of welcome from Laraine and Owain, the engaging couple behind Eigg Adventures. We are armed with our Visit Eigg adventure ticket - a joint ferry and bike hire ticket that completes the trip. At only £23 its great value as it covers your get your return ferry trip from Mallaig and bike hire while you're on the island, complete with a helmet and a map to help you get around. Handily the same folks also rent out kayaks and can organise archery too. They can also put you in touch with Craig Lovatt of Eigg Explorers if you prefer to get around on two feet as he offers excellent walking trips.
Our bikes prove ideal for exploring the island on a family day trip. Mum and Tara have their own bikes, while Owain sets Emma and I up with a handy tagalong. Soon we are off easing around Eigg enjoying the quiet roads - these help ensure that cycling here is for everyone of all skill and experience levels.
Eigg - a green island and roaming responsibly
Our first stop is at a milk white sandy beach which the girls whoop at seeing before tearing off along the sands for a paddle. Back on two wheels we push on through the interior of the island in search of the west coast. En route we stop off at the free museum housed in an old shop. It proves a great move as we learn all about how Eigg was bought by the local community in 1997 and how these days it's a clean and green island. This is handy as my girls are learning all about sustainable living and recycling at school!
Tying in with this responsible living is responsible tourism. This is something that I'm impressed that CalMac are serious about. They have recently announced a partnership with the #roamresponsibly campaign. This initiative aims to raise awareness of our nature and environment whilst producing social media content. Look out for a lot more of this on the #hashtag on all of CalMac's social channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
The Singing Sands of Eigg
We'd read in the CalMac Adventure brochure about the Singing Sands near the wee settlement of Cleadale. They do indeed make an otherworldly noise when you walk across the sands when they are quite dry, my delighted girls observing that they make more of a squeak than singing as such. The beach is dramatically set too backed by rugged hills and fronted on the other flank by the cobalt blue Atlantic. The neighbouring Small Isles gem of Rum tantalises just across the water, only another CalMac journey away, also from the picturesque fishing village of Mallaig.
On the way back towards the pier over on the opposite coast we take a break again at Laig Bay. I'd heard that some people think it's an even better beach and it is indeed a stunner. We run and up and down the sands here with the roar of the Atlantic breakers thundering in the background. At the north end of the beach we meet up with Craig Lovatt of Eigg Explorers who shows us fossils welded into the local rocks - some of dinosaurs millions of years old, which really spins the minds of Tara and Emma. To be honest daddy is rather amazed too!
Eigg - ideal for a west coast day trip
After passing the museum again on the way back it is time to freewheel all the way down to Galmisdale, where the MV Lochnevis is about to arrive to take us home. The Galmisdale Bay cafe is alive with people finishing off a steaming bowl of mussels from just across the water in Arisaig. I reckon you'll find it has the romance of feeling like your own treasure island too.
We board the ship tired but happy and chatting about the marvellous day we had on the island. It's got me thinking - what adventure shall we try next? Book your Visit Eigg Adventure here and learn more about the CalMac Adventures programme for more exciting day excursions across the west coast.
"I love that Eigg has beautiful beaches and that the island is very pretty. It's really cool that that they are green and really look after their own island. I like the windmills too and that they produce the electricity to power my tablet right here on the island. The fossils are really fascinating and are the closest I have ever got to meeting a real life dinosaur! Visiting Eigg is a bit like learning things at school, but even more fun!" Tara McKelvie, aged 10
Don't forget to tag us in your social media posts of your CalMac Adventures using #calmacadventures