Inverie – Eigg – Tobermory

Aug 27, 2019 - Lord of the Glens


The morning was gray-blue and still, mist clinging to the green slopes. It was a brilliant Scottish morning that we enjoyed during our sail from Inverie to the Isle of Eigg, arriving early enough to have hours to enjoy this small island of the Inner Hebrides. Drizzly rain accompanied us for a bit, followed by dry weather under gray skies, allowing us to explore Eigg without a worry about the wet.

Eigg is a community-owned island, one of the estates that was bought from a laird by the people who live on that land. The island is off the grid, running on renewable energy supplied by a combination of solar, wind, and water. The towering mountain An Sgurr (meaning “rocky peak” in Gaelic) looks over Eigg. This prominent ridge of igneous rock formed some 60 million years ago when lava flowed down an ancient river valley. The surrounding softer rock eroded away during the Ice Age, leaving behind the more resistant rock that creates the peak we see today.  While on Eigg, a group set off for a guided walk, meandering through the fields and pastures of the lower slopes of the island.

Over lunch we sailed from Eigg to the village of Tobermory on Mull, passing Ardnamurchan Peninsula, with its most westerly point of all mainland Britain, an Egyptian-styled lighthouse standing out on the point. The journey was marked by the fantastic sighting of a breaching minke whale, a large marine mammal that leapt almost clear of the water at least three times.

We arrived in Tobermory in the early afternoon. Some guests headed out for a walk along the shore through the Celtic rainforest to a lighthouse designed by the ancestors of Robert Louis Stevenson. Others spent the afternoon exploring the village and its diverse shops that sell everything from chocolate to woolens to walking sticks.

Before dinner, Pippa from The Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust gave a talk on this important organization and their work to preserve marine habitat in Scotland. The HWDT’s vision is to preserve healthy seas for both the wildlife and the people of the Hebrides, with conservation the core pillar of their work. One of their current projects is the Hebridean Whale Trail, a series of sites along Scotland’s western coast where people can watch for a diversity of marine species.

After dinner, Stephen Alvarez spoke about his experience as a National Geographic photographer. Daylight seems to stretch out in Scotland, and after the talk, there was time for a stroll around town and even a visit to the iconic Mishnish Pub, a bright yellow building along the colorful waterfront of Tobermory.

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About the Author

Robin Patten

Naturalist

The natural world has always been central to Robin’s life. At an early age, she was out exploring the Montana backcountry, learning natural history through experience. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in landscape ecology from Colorado State University, followed by an M.S. in Environmental Writing from the University of Montana and a Post-Graduate Diploma from Scotland’s Centre for Mountain Studies. Her studies included environmental history and cultural geography, and her work often focuses on the interactions between cultures and landscapes. Robin still lives in Montana, writing and working from a small cabin near Yellowstone National Park.

About the Photographer

Erika Skogg

National Geographic Photographer

Erika Skogg is a photographer, educator, and National Geographic Explorer with experience documenting cultural stories from the United States to Morocco, Greenland, Iceland, Colombia, and beyond. Born and raised in Wisconsin, Erika’s photographic research and storytelling ideas are driven by the desire to immerse, understand, and visually preserve the region’s local Nordic culture, and in 2018, Erika received a National Geographic Early Career Grant for her project “Scandinavian American.” Erika travels to Scandinavia regularly in search of the cultural connections to our emigrant history and promote an interest in one’s own genealogy to foster a respect for the continued immigration of today.

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