One thing I learned before I had even set foot on the isle of Muck, was to book the ferry in advance. I had assumed that there would be enough space for me on the Arisaig Marine Ferry and therefore had decided not to book it until the day before I wanted to visit. Big mistake. When I rang up the kind lady on the phone explained that there was a big party going to Muck and the boat was full. Time to panic!
I was determined to find a way to get there, so I left my name with the lady in case there was a cancellation. I led on my bed in the B & B and thought “there must be a way”. And there was …
I eagerly scanned the CalMac timetable and realised that there was a sailing to Muck in the morning, but there was no return sailing that day. I checked the timetable and the ferry arrived at around 10.00. I then remembered the conversation with the lady from Arisaig Marine and she said that the party was staying on Muck and that the Ferry would be able to bring me back, but they were unable to take me. I looked at their timetable and in conjunction with the Cal Mac Ferry realised that this would give me five and a half hours on Muck. Perfect!!!
It was a cool, but clear day as I boarded the CalMac Ferry at Mallaig and set off for Muck. The Ferry reached Muck at 10.05 and I alighted at Port Mor, the only settlement of any size on the island.
I walked up the slight incline heading towards the majority of houses and buildings. My first impression was of an island almost Scandinavian in nature, as there were a lot of colourful, painted wooden buildings. I stopped to take pictures and noticed the quaint Tea Room, with a plentiful supply of wooden picnic benches outside. I snook in through the low doorway and headed towards the counter. I ordered a coffee and a slice of homemade Chocolate Cake. Bliss. Adjacent to the counter was a small selection of crafts and books, so I had a quick rummage around whilst I awaited my coffee and cake.
After my brunch, I set off for Gallanach at the other side of Muck. The islands only road is about one and a half miles long and it finishes at Gallanach. On the way there, I stopped awhile to watch one of the local farmers rounding up sheep with his Sheepdog. I then came to a left turn in the road where I noticed a strange site near the shore. In a field, in an isolated position overlooking a sheltered Bay, was a Mongolian Yurt tent. I had heard that this was available to rent as accommodation for anyone thinking of staying overnight (or longer) on the island. It really is in a stunning location. I slowly moved on, but made a mental note to think about booking the tent in the future.
Just before the beach was Gallanach Lodge. The Lodge is a new and beautifully located purpose built accommodation with excellent views over to Rum, Canna and even Skye. The view approaching Gallanach Bay was nearly as spectacular as the view when you get there. It really is a magnificent beach, one of the best I have seen on all the islands I have visited. I stayed here for about 40 minutes, eating the packed lunch I had prepared before setting off. I sat there quietly, with just a man walking his dog on the beach for company. I really did not want to move as I was enjoying the view so much, but thought I had better start making my way back to Port Mor.
Once I had arrived back at Port Mor, I walked up to the Community Hall. Upstairs was an interesting exhibition of assorted island artefacts and heritage information about Muck. There was also a games room and an indoor sports hall. Handy, I thought, if I had brought my kids and it had rained.
I also had a look in ‘the Green Shed’. The name pretty much gives it away. You’ll be amazed to know it is a Shed. And it’s green! Within the Green Shed is a treasure trove of arts and crafts dedicated to and made on the isle of Muck. There was no owner or cashier in there. Just an Honesty Box. Everything was priced up accordingly and payments were made using the to put your money and then withdraw the right change if needed. The last time I encountered an Honesty Box was at a Bed and Breakfast on mainland Shetland. They had a Bar and the owner casually told me to ‘get any drinks that you want and just stick your money in the box before you go’. Coming from a culture where you normally have to nail down Charity Boxes, that was quite a moment!
Before booking the trip to Muck, I had trawled the Walk Highlands website looking for a suitable walk to complete whilst I was on Muck. I decided to complete the walk to Caisteal an Duin Bhain, which was believed to be a medieval fort. Unfortunately for me, I had printed the route in black and white and the pictures were very grainy. This meant that I got hopelessly lost and ended up back where I started from about an hour later. I did have the privilege of some fantastic views over to Eigg from the higher ground, but that was it. No Fort for me. I learned later from one of the islanders, that I had gone completely the wrong way and he offered to show me the correct route. But, regrettably, time was running out.
Once I was back in Port Mor, I returned to the Tea Room for a couple of bottles of water, as I had run out trying to find the Fort and had regained my initial thirst. As the time came to walk down to the Pier and meet the Arisaig Marine Ferry, I felt a swathe of sadness wash over me. I had really loved my time on Muck and I will definitely be back. It is a perfect island for walkers and cyclist as it is relatively flat. Also, the islanders are incredibly friendly and helpful. There were a few families visiting the island and almost all of them had brought their bikes (and kids bikes). So, all in all, I would definitely recommend a visit to the isle of Muck. But make sure you book it in advance, as I nearly missed out on a truly remarkable day.