A Misty Easter Eigg Hunt

A long weekend of paddling, first in to Knoydart then over to Skye, onwards to Eigg and round Muck, before returning to our starting point of Mallaig.

Knoydart
We arrived in Mallaig after a dry drive up, at the same time as light rain did. Bravely though, we persevered and ignored the calling of the nearby cafes. It stopped whilst we packed and we were soon loaded up and heading in to Inverie, following the coast as far as the direct crossing to the village’s campsite. Tents up and some gentle relaxation under dramatic skies – still dry though – before heading to the local inn for dinner.

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Up next day to much heavier skies, hemming in views out of Knoydart to a minimum. We were soon off in to the mists following the coast round to Doune on the western coast of Knoydart. We passed deer and goats munching seaweed on the beaches and porpoises too (not on the beaches) – something I saw in this area last year too. The nicest wildlife experience though was a school of dolphins in the area, which we passed by. A few of them came quite close to us, others did acrobatics in the distance, all very nice and the closest I’ve been in a kayak to them.

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From Doune, we took a bearing and headed through the mist to … the misty Isle, Skye. Buildings eventually came in to view and the Armadale – Mallaig ferry provided an extra point of reference for our target – not Armadale itself, but the little cafe in Armadale!

Skye
We managed to squeeze in to the tiny cafe and enjoy some soup and chips before continuing along the Sleat Peninsula to the its southwestern end, our crossing point for Eigg. At first Eigg was not visible at all in the distance, but by the time we reached the end of the peninsula, the lower ground was showing. A quick tea break and then we were off across the sound towards Eigg’s northern end.

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Eigg
It had already been a long day by now, but arriving at Eigg and enjoying a major section of its coastline I had not yet seen on all my past visits lifted the spirits. It could only be another couple of hours till dry clothes and hot food anyway. The cliffs on the east coast are pretty stunning and a high band of rock is undercut in many places with huge boulders strewn down to the sea below from countless rockfalls. One waterfall we passed has had a relatively recent one and the burn disappeared beneath debris not to be seen again all the way to the sea.

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Turning in to Galmisdale, Eigg’s main settlement, we were soon setup above a beach just across the bay from the village’s combined cafe-pub-shop. Too far for us tonight though, 500m walk after 50km paddling was not appealing. A neighbouring camper kindly informed us about a ceilidh on the island, but it was even further away – not far enough away for us not to enjoy the sounds of it till the early hours though. Instead, dinner and early night with the prospect of a late start and easier day ahead – bliss!

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We woke to sunshine and … sheep. Lots of both, the latter taking a keen interest in us for some reason. A lazy breakfast then eventually we geared up for a trip to Eigg’s neighbour, Muck.

Muck
After such a tiring day, switching to a day paddle with much lighter boats was a welcome change for achy joints.

On a previous visit to Muck we only saw a small portion of the island’s coastline, but did manage to explore more of the island on foot after a coffee and cake stop. This time we got all the way round, but were disappointed to find the cafe closed. Lunch was of our own making then, in a sheltered spot out the chilling breeze. Very nice. Never mind, we’d surely make it back to Eigg and get a coffee there at the cafe. Sadly not, we were twenty minutes late. Coffee was of our own making too, not the same as a nice latte served up at a table, but still enjoyable and warming.

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A family departing the beach, suggested there might be Easter eggs still to be found in the area, but we never saw any. That evening we had lots of time to enjoy the effect of the setting sun colouring the hills on the mainland and a variety of birds doing there thing, including a couple of colourful shelduck. Later, the stars were out and an we had an impressive moonrise whilst we chatted and enjoyed a few drams.

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Return from Eigg
Back to loaded boats for the long crossing out to Mallaig, which was hard on joints after three days’ paddling, but there was distraction in the views, which improved along the way with the hills of, first Skye, then Rum, revealing themselves to us through the rising mist.

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We had a slight tailwind which helped us, but crossings are crossings and land ahead can be painfully slow in arriving. After three and a half hours we pulled in to the harbour with the sun still shining and the reward of ice cream and coffee just a few minutes away.

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