Another reason to savour a visit to Glebe Barn on Eigg.
The last time I wrote about Glebe Barn, a lovely and homely bunkhouse overlooking the sea on the Isle of Eigg, I noted that the bunkhouse owners described their island home as ‘extraordinary’. I found out about its dramatic landscape centred around a towering igneous ridge and its fascinating history. For such a tiny island, though, Eigg keeps flinging more and more reasons to visit.
This time round, my interest was peaked by issues of land ownership…Wait! Don’t yawn! It is better than it sounds. Eigg is one of those tiny communities which has been wholly owned by a landowner. See also Downham in Lancashire and Edensor in Derbyshire. Following neglect and under investment, the locals fund-raised to buy the island themselves shrugging off the feudal remnants and ushering in a new age in which the islanders generated their own energy; invested in their own infrastructure; and crucially managed their own tenancies. The stability and increasing prosperity this has brought has been shadowed by a growth in the creative arts. Have a look at their ‘government’s’ website and you’ll see evidence of writing, visual arts, and music. Artists can take up residence in the inspirational landscape around Sweeney’s Bothy, Musicians are fostered by the record Label ‘Lost Map’ as well as performances all year.
In a way it reminds me of Iceland in that a dramatic landscape, a close knit community and a progressive government can create an environment of great creativity.
Another extraordinary reason to savour a visit to Glebe Barn on Eigg.
An Extraordinary Island indeed.
On their front page on the Independent Hostels website, Glebe Barn describe themselves as being on the ‘extraordinary’ Isle of Eigg.
The hostel is a charming converted 19th Century building, it doesn’t look much like the ‘barn’ of its name – more like a handsome farmhouse. Inside it favours a homely wood panel and stone-work vibe. The facilities are top notch: communal lounge and kitchen; toilets and showers; central heating and log fire. It sleeps 22 in a range of rooms sizes from 2 to 8. Sounds lovely but not ‘extraordinary’.
Wanting to know more, I dug a little deeper.
The first extraordinary thing is the landscape. Eigg is just a dot on map, just 12 square miles. The centre is a great ridge of pitchstone, a volcanic glass rising in a sheer black wall, An Sgurr, surrounded by a moorland plateau and gently sloping farmland down to the caves and beaches of the coast. An Sgurr dominates the eye but tear your gaze away and look for the caves with intriguing and spine chilling names: Cathedral Cave or Massacre Cave. Listen out too, for The Singing Sands – a feature of the sands chemistry means they vibrate and ‘sing’ when you walk on them, rather like a whine glass can be made to sing.
That name ‘Massacre cave’ will make you want to find out more. A chilling tale from the 16th century and the height of clan rivalries and feuds will stop you in your tracks. That tale leads us on through the island’s history: Neolithic, Iron Age, Early Christian, Vikings, the clans, the Jacobites have all written in palimpsest upon the island.
It’d be hard to imagine that as you sit in Glebe Barn, cosy, log fire burning, perhaps a glass of something strong at your elbow. Maybe you’ll be planning a trek up the moor tomorrow, hoping for a glimpse of the elusive Golden Eagles.
Visit this hostel and discover a vibrant island community.
Visit Glebe Barn and discover a vibrant island community on the Isle of Eigg. You can watch Golden Eagles soar over the island, walk to the famous Singing Sands, observe the wildlife and explore the island’s fascinating history and geology. Discover Eiggs island community, enjoy traditional music sessions and the great local cuisine. The Glebe Barn offers groups or individuals homely accommodation in a 22 bed (5 bedroom) house, with a separate 2 person apartment, on the beautiful Hebridean Isle of Eigg.