This is the further information from the DVD, updated, corrected and with the web addresses replaced by links. If you have any suggestions or spot any mistakes, please contact us. And if you do not yet have the DVD, click here to buy. Thanks!

  • General Information
  • Isle of Muck
  • Isle of Canna
  • Isle of Skye - Loch Coruisk
  • Isle of Rùm
  • Isle of Eigg

Safety
It goes without saying that hillwalking can be hazardous, and you need to be properly equiped and have the skills to climb and navigate safely on the hills. The routes on the Small Isles range from those on the low-lying Isle of Muck to the mountainous and rocky Isle of Rùm. But the island situation of all these walks requires a little extra thought. The routes are not heavily used, so the paths are not eroded and may well be less prominent than deer or sheep tracks. Your navigation needs to be good enough to still find the right route. If things go wrong there may not be other walkers to help, and if you do raise the alarm, rescue from the mainland may take a while to reach you.

Routes
The routes featured here and in the video were walked by us in May and June 2008. The route descriptions have been checked and to the best of our knowledge are accurate. However, you should use them in conjunction with a map and check locally that the routes can still be used. You use them at your own risk; to the extend permitted, we do not accept liability for any losses or injuries.

Anchorages
Brief notes are provided on the anchorages we used. However, any skipper will need nautical charts and pilotage notes for the area.

Maps and Guides
Ordnance Survey Explorer 397 covers the Small Isles at 1:25,000 scale.

‘The Scottish Islands’ by Hamish Haswell-Smith is an excellent guide to all the Scottish islands, with sketch maps and notes on history and geology.

‘The Islands of Scotland including Skye’ by the Scottish Mountaineering Club gives walking and climbing routes on the hills.

The Clyde Cruising Club ‘Ardnamurchan to Cape Wrath’ sailing directions details passages, harbours and anchorages in the area.

Access
Scheduled ferries run from Mallaig operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (08000 66 5000) and Arisaig by Arisaig Marine (01687) 450224

Accommodation and Amenities
Some examples of accommodation, shops and other facilities are shown. However, this information quickly becomes out of date and the best source is the web. Apart from Canna, each island has a website and the address is shown.

Getting About
The islands may not be as small as the name suggests, but the population and facilities are concentrated in one or two locations and everything is within walking distance. Cleadale and Galmisdale on Eigg are further apart and there is a minibus and cycle hire. Although the CalMac ferry takes vehicles, permission is only given to residents and people working on the islands. Bicycles may be taken for free.

Communications
Mobile phone coverage seems to be from Mallaig and Arisaig, and the further east and higher you are, the better the chance of getting a signal. Coverage is reasonable around Galmisdale on Eigg, and on the mountain summits.

Feedback
We found the Small Isles to be fascinating places and were welcomed by their residents; we hope that this comes across in the DVD. If you have any comments or suggestions, we would be very pleased to hear from you.

Thank you.

The island website is www.isleofmuck.com. There is another website more concerned with the history of the island.

Accommodation
The website is the best source of up to date information about where to stay, including bed and breakfast. Phone numbers where available are:

Port Mor House Hotel (01687) 462365
Holiday Cottages (01687) 462362
Bunkhouse (01687) 462042
Mongolian Yurt (01687) 462362

Amenities
The Craft Shop, Tea Room and Restaurant is in Port Mor and is open from 11.00 am every day in June, July and August and most days through the rest of the summer.

Getting Around
There is no transport on the island, and there is only one road! Port Mor to Gallenach is an easy 20 minute stroll.

Anchorages
The two safe anchorages are Port Mor in the south east and Gallenach in the north. At Port Mor you can land at either pier, making sure not to obstruct the pier for other boats.

Island History
The island is believed to have been inhabited since mesolithic times, and evidence of bronze age settlements remain. The population reached a peak of 320 in 1821 but 150 were evicted in 1828 and the remaining population had all left by 1835. The island changed hands several times, and finally was bought in 1896 by Robert Lawrie Thompson. It has been passed down his family to the current laird, Lawrence MacEwan.

Island Walks
Visitors are welcome to walk anywhere on the island, except for private gardens. The craft shop sells the Island of Muck Walking Map, which has a sketch map of the island and several suggested walks.

Beinn Airein
Beinn Airein, at the western end of the island, is the highest hill on the island. There is a route from Port Mor but the easiest approach is from Gallenach, at the end of the island road and 20 minutes from Port Mor.

At Gallenach, go past all the farm buildings and through a small gate on the left. Follow the tractor track as it climbs below the cliffs of Beinn Airein, then by a gate turn right onto a path which follows a fence. This climbs steeply and after a few hundred metres you will be overlooking the cliffs of Camas Mor on your left. Continue the climb, crossing a stile then gaining the summit plateau via a gully.

The Island
Canna and the linked island of Sanday are owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

Accommodation
Tighard Guest House (01687) 462474
Various properties are available through NTS Holidays (0131 243 9331)

Anchorage
Canna harbour is sheltered from all wind directions. The best landing is by the Tea Room (white building west of the rocket church). There is a coin operated shower at the farm. Fresh water is available at the pier and it is possible to go alongside for a short period when it is not in use by the ferry.

History
Canna’s earliest historical association is with the sixth century St Columba, although there have been people living on the island for 5000 years. For several centuries it was in the hands of the Macdonalds of Clanranald, until it was sold by them in 1827. It was bought in 1938 by John Lorne Campbell, a historian who lived at Canna Houseand built a collection of Gaelic culture including documents, photographs and sound recordings. The Trust is cataloguing these with a view to making them available as a resource.

Walks on Canna
Walkers are welcome to explore the island. The high ground is to the north, with dramatic sea cliffs dropping away to the northern shore.

Compass Hill and Carn a’Ghaill
Our walk started by the Harbour Tea Room and we took the left fork just before the ‘rocket’ church. This farm track leads to the bay and remains of the castle at Corogon Mor. Just before the end of the track, there is a gate to a field on your left. Follow the path towards the corner of a wood and through another gate; bear right and climb steeply. The summit of Compass Hill (143 metres) is not well defined, and as the name hints, compasses are unreliable.

From Compass Hill, continue north and descend slightly. Bear left and after 150 metres you will reach the top of the cliffs. Follow the path west along the cliff tops for about 800 metre; below are rock stacks and arches. After a descent and steep climb around NG272061, turn inland and the summit and trig point at Carn a’Ghaill will come into view. There are a couple of gulleys to cross before reaching the summit.

We visited the island in exceptionally dry weather, after several weeks without rain. In more typical conditions, the route to Carn a’Ghaill is likely to be boggy.

The Island
The Isle of Skye is one of the largest of the west coast islands. It is linked by bridge to the mainland as well as by ferries. Accommodation, from hotels to campsites, is plentiful and there are many websites. www.skye.co.uk is a good place to start.

Loch Coruisk
Loch Coruisk lies at the heart of the southern Cuillin. It can be accessed on foot from Sligachan, by a dramatic 10 kilometre walk through Glen Sligachan and over a 300 metre pass. Another route is from Elgol or Kirkibost via Camasunary and the Bad Step. The only accommodation, apart from wild camping, is the Scottish Mountaineering Club hut which is private and locked.

Most visitors arrive on one of the two boats from Elgol

Anchorage
Loch Scavaig and Loch na Cuilce (the sea lochs) are spectacular, but the anchorage needs careful pilotage and close attention to the sailing directions. The steps are the easiest landing place but please do not leave them obstructed.

Mapping
The Explorer map of the Small Isles does not cover Skye. ‘Skye - Cuillin Hills’ (Explorer 411) shows Loch Coruisk as does the Harvey Superwalker ‘Skye - The Cuillin’ map.

Sgurr na Stri from Loch Coruisk
Our walk started at the landing place. From here a well worn path leads to Loch Coruisk and the stepping stones over the River Scavaig. Once across, follow the path around the eastern end of the loch and then north, climbing steadily. Take care on the boilerplate slabs; these generally offer superb grip but if wet can be slippery.

The path, indistinct in places, climbs to the east (right) of the stream and waterfalls, passing Loch a’ Choire Riabhaich at 163 metres. Contine on the path up the east wall of the corrie, and as you reach the bealach you will see Bla Bhein and the eastern hill whilst behind you is the Cuillin ridge. The stone cairn marks the highest point on the route from Sligachan to Loch Coruisk.

From the bealach turn right and follow the path south. It countours below Sgurr Hain, descends slightly and becomes indistinct. On reaching a gulley around NG498201, bear left and follow the gulley to the summit.

The Island
The island of Rùm is owned by Scottish Natural Heritage. The island had a reputation for discouraging visitors but now, all are welcome and permission is not needed to land or stay.

The island website is www.isleofrum.com

Accommodation
The castle hostel offers accommodation and meals (01687) 462037
There is a campsite on the southern shore of Loch Scresort, and bothies at Guirdil and Dibidil for those exploring further into the island.

Amenities
Kinloch is the island’s only settlement. The castle hostel has showers, a launderette and a bistro. There is a post office and store, and a craft shop. Guided tours of the castle run most days except Sunday and are timed to fit with ferry arrivals.
There is a small exhibition about the island, the wildlife and the work of Scottish Natural Heritage by the track west of the old pier.

Anchorage
Loch Scresort offers a safe anchorage; the most convenient landing place for dinghies is the small sandy beach just east of the old stone pier.

History
Rùm had one of the earliest settlements in Scotland; bloodstone from Bloodstone Hill being an attractive substitute for flint. In the eighteenth century the population rose to 443, but in 1826 the majority of the islanders were forced off the land and shipped to Nova Scotia. Sheep were introduced but were never profitable, and in 1888 Rùm was sold to John Bullough.

His eccentric son, George, took over in 1891 and between 1900 and 1902 built the castle as an example of Edwardian extravagance. George died in 1939 and is buried in the Harris mausoleum; his widow sold the island to the Countryside Commission for Scotland in 1957.

The Kinloch Castle Friends Association aim to preserve and restore the castle; their website has more information about the island and their work.

Island Walks
Rùm is the largest of the Small Isles and is extremely mountainous; even low level walks tend to be arduous. There is a display at the White House between the pier and the castle with information about island walks and wildlife. Details of areas closed for research will be posted, although this is now rare and usually only around Kilmory in the north of the island.

Hallival and Askival from Kinloch
Our walk starts at the information point at the White House. From there, take the track to the castle and, just over a stone bridge, cross a stile on the left by a small ‘Rùm Cuillin’ sign. The path follows the river through the castle grounds. Don’t cross the bridge on your left, but follow the path which then bears left. After passing some buildings (including the hydroelectric plant) you come out onto open moorland. Stay on the path which follows the Allt Slugan river to the deer fence and rocky gorge at 200 metres.

This brings you to Coire Dubh. The path follows the stream for 600 metres to another dam, then bears left to ascend the east wall of the corrie, and becomes harder to follow. Keep heading up and towards the head of the corrie; eventually you will reach Bealach Barkeval at 466 metres. West is Barkeval, at the end of the ridge. Ahead is the vast Atlantic Corrie with Harris Bay and the mausoleum just visible in the distance. Across the corrie is the bulk of Trallval and to the east our objectives, Askival and Hallival.

Hallival is gained by a straightforward climb of its northwest ridge, with little scrambling. The 722 metre summit gives the best views of Skye and Canna. From the cairn head south, descending the rocky south ridge to the bealach at 599 metres. Then climb Askival’s knife-edge north ridge ahead, and at the base of the rock slab which is Askival Pinnacle, bear left onto a faint path. This quickly becomes a scramble, emerging on a rocky platform from which a short climb brings you to the summit and trig point (812 metres).

The island website is at www.isleofeigg.net

Getting About
Eigg is more widely spread than the other islands, with most people living in Cleadale in the north. This is some 5 kilometres from Galmisdale, the location of the ferry port, shops and access to the Sgurr. There is an occasional minibus and cycles can be hired at Galmisdale.

Accommodation
There is a range of accommodation, with self-catering, B&B, a hostel and a campsite, all listed on the website.

Amenities
At the end of the pier at Galmisdale is Am Laimhrig which has a tea room, post office and well stocked shop and craft shop. Cycle hire is just outside as is the minibus to Cleadale.

Anchorage
The pilot shows anchorages at Galmisdale from south of the old pier (in the channel between Eigg and En Chathastail) to Poll nam Parten some 6 cables north. None are particularly sheltered and the tide runs strongly through the channel. There is a drying yacht wall on the north side of the new pier, and there are showers at Am Laimhrig.

History
Eigg was for many years a MacDonald stronghold, with many stories of battles against the MacLeods. During one such raid in 1577 the population of Eigg hid in Uamh Fhraing (St Francis’ Cave) but were eventually discovered and all suffocated when a fire was lit at the entrance.

The island’s recent history has been dominated by a series of eccentric landlords. Keith Schellenburg, a Yorkshire farmer, bought it in 1975 and, after a court case following his divorce, sold it to a German artist known as Maruma. After further disputes with the residents, an appeal was launched to raise funds to buy the island, and on 12 June 1997 it was bought by the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust.

Island Walks
Eigg’s proximity to the mainland and the ferry timetables mean that it can be a day trip destination, and shorter walks have been waymarked. At the end of the pier, next to the memorial to the community buy out, is a map showing all the waymarked routes.

An Sgurr from Galmisdale
This walk starts at the pier, and follows the red dots. From the pier take the left hand road, which climbs though the woods. On the right is the community hall and, set a little further back, the Lodge with its semi-tropical garden. The road bears left and winds through the wood, reaching a gate. Go through the gate and follow the track across an open field; ahead is the red-roofed Galmisdale House as well as the Sgurr. Past the house, turn left onto the track and after a few metres, take the waymarked path which climbs to the right. Stay on this path, following the red dots, which runs north of and parallel to the Sgurr.

The path continues to climb and around NM458848 turns south into a gulley. From there it climbs diagonally up the left (east) wall of the gulley, gaining the pitchstone ridge of the Sgurr. It is then an easy walk, with spectacular views of Muck and Rùm, to the trig point at the summit (393 metres).