Isle of Eigg

Jun 20, 2018 - Lord of the Glens

We sailed early from Inverie on the mainland, in calm waters and light airs for a two-hour passage to the Isle of Eigg, most populous of the Small Isles with over 100 inhabitants. At the turn of the nineteenth century some 500 souls lived on the island. It has always been regarded as the parent island of a group that includes Canna, Rum and Muck, with the schoolmaster and clergy (both Catholic and Protestant) based on the island. The passage enabled us to hear a presentation on Scottish nature and prepare for the onshore activities, a more strenuous hike in the direction of An Sgurr, a massive column of pitchstone, as explained by our geologist who led this activity. A gentler walk along the shoreline covered history and botany and van transport took the photographers to the Bay of Laig on the remote northwest coast. By the end of the morning the sky was blue and we were basking in warm sunshine. 

Lunch-time re-positioning saw us sail past the lighthouse on the tip of the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the westernmost tip on the British mainland. Along the coast of the Isle of Mull we spotted the nest of a white-tiled sea eagle on a sea stack, with a fledgling eagle about seven weeks old. Then coming in to Tobermory, the principal settlement on the island, we were given an orientation to the town’s many attractions: a museum, an aquarium, book and whisky stores, cafes and an arts centre, and a useful ATM machine. A photo walk through the town and a longer walk to the lighthouse were offered, the latter being one of the Stevenson lighthouses, built by the father and uncle of Robert Louis Stephenson, whose Kidnapped is loosely based on the island’s geography. 

After dinner, we had a presentation from a representative of the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, a local charitable foundation that Lindblad has been supporting this season. We were fascinated to learn of the Hebridean orca pod that has genetic links to its Antarctic cousins rather than to other north Atlantic pods and sad to hear of its declining numbers that may in large part be the result of very heavy concentrations of PCBs in their bodies, the orca being at the top of the food chain and thus uniquely vulnerable.

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About the Author

David Barnes

Expedition Leader

David studied history at the University of York in England and theology at the University of Wales. Research in the field of religious history (at Cardiff) followed on naturally. He has spent most of his professional life teaching history, most recently in adult education departments within the University of Wales where he has taught a wide variety of courses pertinent to the wider Atlantic world. In 1988, he made his first lecture-tour of the U.S. for the English Speaking Union. He has published extensively on Welsh history and topography–his most recent book being the Companion Guide to Wales (2005)–and is a frequent contributor of articles and reviews to Welsh cultural and literary journals. In the1990s, David was active in the field of international education, traveling worldwide and spending a year in the U.S. (in Atlanta and New York City). He speaks English and French in addition to his native Welsh.

About the Photographer

Stewart Aitchison

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Trained as zoologist and geologist, Stewart 's passion is the natural world. He has been exploring, photographing, teaching, and writing about biodiversity, geology, and the American Southwest for forty years and has worked with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic since 1981.  Stewart also spent ten years as a field biologist for the Museum of Northern Arizona, a nonprofit institution dedicated to preserving the Colorado Plateau's natural and cultural heritage.

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