Cicerone Guide Book: Walking on Rum and the Small Isles
by Peter Edwards
A handy guidebook to walking and backpacking in the Western Isles of Scotland on Rum, Eigg, Muck, Canna, Coll and Tiree including a tough 55km backpack around the coast of Rum, a circuit of the Rum Cuillin and an ascent of An Sgurr (Eigg).
16 routes across all the islands suitable for a range of abilities exploring coasts, mountains and wilderness.
The Small Isles, and the nearby Hebridean twins Coll and Tiree, offer adventurous walkers a fine range of routes, from the jagged volcanic peaks of the Cuillin on Rum to the beaches, dunes and machair pastures of its lower-lying neighbours. Many of the walks follow sublime coastlines, dotted with striking geological formations and teeming with wildlife.
Easier routes on Rum, along long-established paths, explore the National Nature Reserve with opportunities to spot deer, golden eagles, feral goats and Rum ponies along the way, and detailed information is included on each island's history, geology, wildlife, plants and flowers to help walkers make the most of their experience.
Walking on Rum - Rum is by far the largest of the Small Isles, and arguably the most mountainous island of its size in Britain. Rum's highest peaks, Askival and Ainshval are Corbetts, and it's also the smallest Scottish island to have a summit over 762m. A round of the Rum Cuillin is included in the guidebook, but walkers will also find there's much more to discover.
Walking on Eigg, Muck, Canna, Coll and Tiree - Eigg, second largergest of the Small Isles, lies a little less than 7km south-east of Rum, and boasts the most varied scenery and range of wildlife habitats. Canna is the westernmost and the second smallest of the Small Isles. It's linked to its tide separated sister, Sanday by a bridge and by sandbanks and a road a low tide.
Muck is the smallest and most fertile of the Small Isles. Muck is also known for its seal population, and for the porpoises in the surrounding waters. Coll and its near neighbour, Tiree are often referred to as the Hebridean Twins.
Seasons - spring, early summer and early autumn are the best times as the weather is mildest and the midges are in abeyance; high summer is the busiest season and midges can be a nightmare on Rum; winter days are short and storms are frequent, but the solitary grandeur of the islands in winter weather is ample reward for the well-prepared walker.
Centres - Kinloch, Dibidil, Guirdil (Rum); Galmisdale, Cleadale (Eigg); Port Mòr (Muck); A'Chill (Canna); Arinagour (Coll); Scarinish, Balephetrish, Hynish (Tiree)
Difficulty - routes range from the challenging to the relatively undemanding; weather can change suddenly in the Hebrides - be prepared for wet, wild and windy conditions.
Must See - the Rum Cuillin, Kinloch Castle, Kilmory bay; An Sgurr and Cleadale on Eigg; Canna's cliffs and rock stacks; verdant landscape and sparkling shores of Muck; white sand bays and flower-carpeted machair of Coll and Tiree; wildlife, geological features and ancient monuments; stunning coastal landscapes
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