I didn’t bring much with me to the Isle of Eigg. I had packed a week’s worth of groceries, clothes, art supplies, and reading materials all inside one backpack, and not a very big backpack at that. I had only packed the essentials when it came to clothes, figuring I could wash a few items and hang them out to dry on the clothes line strung up outside the caravan. As it stood, the rain had not yet relented, and so I had yesterday’s clothes strewn about the caravan, damp from when I’d washed them earlier. I re-heated the kettle several times, in an attempt to warm up the caravan so that my clothes might dry, but, eventually, I had to throw on my last remaining outfit and cycle off to the Old Shop/Museum on the Isle of Eigg.
A Guided Nature Walk with the Scottish Wildlife Trust
The Old Shop/Museum is the meeting point for the Guided Nature Walk with one of the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seasonal Rangers on the Isle of Eigg. The Old Shop/Museum is the only building you’ll pass on the main road, between Galmisdale Bay and Cleadale, making it difficult to miss. The Guided Nature Walk occurs May – August, every Wednesday, rain or shine, at 11 AM. It is a free event, but donations are welcome (and appreciated). No need to book in advance, simply show up, they’ll be there!
The Scottish Wildlife Trust’s Seasonal Ranger for our walk was Norah. I wrote a bit about Norah in a previous post, but this was the first time I’d actually met her. Norah gathered us around in a semi-circle and asked us to introduce ourselves. At first, I was surprised by how many of us had shown up for the walk, there were around 10 or 15 of us in total, but then I remembered that the rain had rendered almost all else there was to do on the island, that day, impossible. After introducing herself, Norah pointed out four young women, two were volunteers for the Scottish Wildlife Trust and two were volunteers for the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. I recognized three of the four of them, as I’d spoken with them at the Eigg Makers’ Market earlier that week. These were the same young women that had told me about the Guided Nature Walk in the first place. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably have spent yet another day bicycling around Cleadale in the mist.
Usually, the SWT Ranger will ask the group what wildlife they’re most interested in seeing and tailor the walk to the group’s interests. However, due to the weather, Norah thought it would be best for us to focus on the local flora for our walk. That’s right, flowers! (If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I love me some flowers.)
We didn’t get very far down the main road before Norah had us crouching down and combing through the grass for wildflowers. One of the most magical things about visiting Scotland in the summertime is that the fields of grass are painted with vibrant hues of wildflowers. Most Americans will remark on how green the U.K. is compared to the U.S., but to those Americans, I say, look closer. Yes, the fields are green – a shade of green I could have never envisioned before my first trip to Scotland at the age of 9 – but they are also so much more. The image on the left (or above, if you’re viewing on your phone) is a heath spotted-orchid (dactylorhiza maculata), found right off the main road on Eigg. This is a rather small one, usually they are bit taller.
A little further down the road, we turned left and followed a trail (pictured above) into a wooded area. Most people do not associate trees, or woodland, with the Hebrides, but your eyes do not deceive you, there is woodland on Eigg. Despite the weather, this turned out to be an absolutely lovely (and at times, hilarious) walk. Only one member of our group made it out with dry shoes, but none of us allowed our soaked-through hiking boots (or our squishy socks) to dampen our spirits. We chatted amongst ourselves as we walked, and stopped to listen when Norah pointed out flowers, butterflies, and even a few birds along the trail. As one of the only members of the group with an American accent, most people were curious how I had first heard about the Isle of Eigg, and even more curious about what made me want to visit. In writing this post, and remembering these conversations, I realized I haven’t really discussed what inspired me to visit the island on this blog, and so, I’ve decided to take a break from the storytelling in my next post, and tell you all about why I chose to visit the Isle of Eigg in the first place.
But, for now, read on or take a look below for sights from this incredible Guided Nature Walk with the Scottish Wildlife Trust. If you’re planning on visiting Scotland, I urge you to take a look at the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s website for activities and opportunities in your area before you do!
1. A tiny wild strawberry. (I ate this one after photographing it.)
2. Reaching higher ground on the trail.
3. One of Eigg’s three hydroelectric generators. (I will write more about this in my next post.)
4. Further into the woods.
5. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis). A lovely aroma.
6. The view of Laig Bay from above.
The Giant’s Footprint
Pictured above is the view from the highest ground we reached on the trail. The marshy area is aptly named “The Giant’s Footprint” as when viewed from afar and above it looks like, well, a giant’s footprint. I’d heard about the Giant’s Footprint, but I figured it would be one of those things I wouldn’t get a chance to see during my short time on the island. So I, for one, was incredibly surprised and delighted when Norah presented this view to us. Due to the weather, and how boggy the trail was, I would have turned around and given up had I attempted to walk it on my own, but with Norah as my guide I felt well looked after. I think it’s safe to say that I would never have seen this side of Eigg without this opportunity, so I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and our wonderful guide, Norah, if by any chance they ever read this! Thank you for a brilliant day out!
All names and conversations are remembered to the best of my abilities.