Thursday, March 6, 2014

Down to Upper Grulin - Eigg

My first visit to Eigg was an all-too-short day trip from Arisaig in 1997 (see book 1, chapter 25). My main goal was to crawl into Massacre Cave, and if time allowed I was going to ascend to the top of the Sgurr. I did explore the cave, but a short way up the south side of the Sgurr I ran out of time, and had to turn back. Along the way I met some walkers who had ascended the Sgurr the usual way (from the northwest), and had descended the southern side. It sounded like a wonderful hike, and one I promised myself I'd do someday.

It wasn't until 2007 that I had the chance to make good on that promise. One day, during a week's stay on Eigg that year, I climbed the Sgurr the usual way, and then spent some time (between hail storms) enjoying the view from the top. When it was time to descend I walked west along the precipitous cliffs on the south side of the Sgurr until I found a heather-cloaked ravine that looked safe to descend. On the shore below I could see the ruins of Upper Grulin, a village that had been cleared in 1853. 

Upper Grulin seen from the Sgurr
Once down in the lost village I searched for Tobar nam Ban-naomha, the well of the holy women. I'd read about the well in Alastair McIntosh's excellent book Soil and Soul which is about, among other things, the struggle for the community buyout on Eigg. I searched for quite a while, but I could not find the well. 

Ruins of Upper Grulin
Looking back to the Sgurr from Grulin
Set near the ruins, and with a fresh coat of white paint, the old Shepherd's house at Grulin looked to be a wonderful place to stay. It was available for rent when I was there, but I can not find it listed on the current Eigg accommodation website. For the description of what a week on Eigg is like, and the hike over the Sgurr to Grulin, see book 1, chapter 26.

Grulin Bothy

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