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.
Find out more about Glebe Barn