The journey to Eigg is in two parts. First a train/car/bus to Mallaig, then by either CalMac ferry from Mallaig to Eigg (all year) or Arisaig Marina’s Small Isles Ferry from Arisaig to Eigg (spring and summer only). Traveline Scotland is a useful website to visit as it features a journey planner and all ferry, bus and train timetables.
The West Highland Line, which runs between Fort William and Mallaig, is a famously scenic train ride and is one of the Great Railway Journeys of the World. There are usually four trains a day Monday to Saturday and two trains on a Sunday. Check the Scotrail website for timetable details.
Please note: no cars can be taken over to the Isle of Eigg. The main road to Mallaig is the A82 from from Glasgow or Inverness to Fort William, then the A830 to Mallaig. You should allow at least four hours for your journey from Glasgow, five hours from Edinburgh, or three hours from Inverness.
There are two long stay car parks in Mallaig – East and West Bays. Give yourself plenty of time to find a parking space, particularly in the summer as it can get very busy. The West Bay car park is at the Mallaig and Morar Community Centre car park on the left just as you come into the village. It’s a five minute walk to the ferry terminal. There is a £10 charge for using the West Bay Car Park while you’re on Eigg which you can book and pay for through RingGo.
Parking in the East Bay car park is free, but it’s further around the bay, through the village and is about ten to fifteen minute walk to the pier. We recommend dropping your luggage off at the CalMac office before parking.
You must book your bike onto the train well in advance of traveling as there are limited bike spaces and its often booked up! Bikes are free on the ferry and train and a great way to get between the Sweeney’s Bothy and the pier.
Calmac ferries run from Mallaig to Eigg all year round. The timetable can be found here. The timetable is notoriously difficult to read, so if you have any questions about ferry travel please send us an email. Tickets should be booked in advance through the Mallaig CalMac office on 01687 310240 – please note tickets for this service can not be booked online. We recommend checking the Calmac service status webpage for updates in poor weather. To get a one time service status update sent direct to your mobile, text ‘CALMAC 19’ to 60030. We recommend texting this on the day before and the morning of your ferry departure or you can call Calmac Service Information line for an update on 0800 066 5400. You must be able to carry all your luggage on and off the ferry in one go – if you can’t mange this, you’ll need to book your luggage as freight. This can be done by calling the CalMac office on 01687 310 240.
For Arisaig Marina’s Small Isles Ferry from Arisaig to Eigg (spring and summer only), booking is essential and tickets can be booked by calling 01687 450 224.
Eigg is an exposed island with occasionally extreme weather, even in the summer. Please be aware that ferries are sometimes cancelled, especially in the winter. We recommend you take out travel insurance, if you don’t already have it, to cover any costs incurred due to travel problems. This can be found online for under £10 for a single trip policy. For information on what CalMac does and does not cover in the event of ferry cancellation, see the information on their Disruptions FAQ webpage. You are responsible for arranging backup accommodation in Mallaig or Arisaig if needed. For accommodation in Mallaig or Arisaig please see the Road to the Isles website. We especially recommend Mallaig Backpackers, The Steam Inn or The Mission Bunkhouse. Depending what ferry you’re getting, you could stay in Fort William, where there is a greater range of accommodation, and take the train to Mallaig in time for the crossing to Eigg.
ARRIVALS & DEPARTURES
The bothy hosts, Lucy Conway and Eddie Scott, will meet you off the ferry and give you a lift to and from the bothy at the start and end of your residency. Thereafter you are responsible for your own transport around the island – by foot, bike or taxi. Sweeney’s Bothy is on Lucy and Eddie’s croft in the township of Cleadale and they live in the house closest to the bothy. They will replace supplies, refresh bedding between residencies and help in the case of an emergency, but please be sensitive to their privacy and time.
WHAT TO BRING
Towels (none are provided, please bring your own)
Wellies or hiking boots
Slippers or thick socks for wearing indoors
Hat, scarf, gloves
Thermals for cold weather
Waterproofs, torch or head-torch (needed all year round!)
Batteries for torches etc
Sun screen & midge repellent in the summer
Any art supplies required including stationary
If an additional guests is staying (max 2) they should bring roll-mats and sleeping bags
Toiletries (please use natural/organic shower products)
Travel insurance – read important information on travel to Eigg above
*Residents are reminded that they should be able to carry all their luggage on and off the ferry in one go – if you can’t mange this, you’ll need to book it as freight. Call the Mallaig CalMac office on 01687 310 240.
The studio has an amazing view over Rum. There is trestle table, 2 benches and a comfortable working chair. There is wall space suitable for propping or hanging canvases etc, and a small library with art books, maps and history of the island. A selection of the books were curated for Sweeney’s Bothy by The Walking Library.
TELEPHONE & INTERNET
There is some mobile phone signal at the bothy, but only for those with 4G enabled phones on certain networks. If you want to be without mobile phone signal during your residency, Lucy can arrange a safe place outwith the bothy to keep your phone.
The nearest point for mobile signal except 4G is in the middle of the island, close to the school.
There is no reliable internet connection in the bothy, although some 4G handsets connect intermittently. There is a public internet connection in the Community Learning Centre at the school. The password for this is in the handbook in the bothy. There is also internet available at the Pier.
Emergency calls can be made to and from Lucy and Eddie’s house.
The Bothy is designed to suit one person but it can sleep 2 on a mezzanine bed, with access via a ladder (bedding is provided for this bed only). A further 2 people can sleep on the bothy floor, but must supply their own roll matts and sleeping bags. The maximum amount of people allowed at any time to stay in the bothy is 4. Camping by the bothy is allowed, as long as there is still no more than 4 people in total.
There is a wood burning stove with a hot-plate and an oven for cooking, plus a kitchenette with a gas burner, and a sink. The bothy is connected to a central water supply, which comes from a natural spring and is safe to drink. Pots, pans, plates and cutlery are all provided. There is no fridge, but an outdoor cool-box is provided. We ask everyone to separate their waste for recycling. If you are bringing food, please consider reducing the amount of packaging before you leave home.
The bothy has basics like salt, pepper, cooking oil, tea, matches, foil, kindling and washing up liquid. As well as some herbs and spices, tea and coffee, sugar. There is also often a small stock of tinned and dried goods (porridge, pasta, rice etc) left by previous artists.
An outdoor shower is installed on the decking outside the bothy, with hot water supplied by the stove’s back-boiler and a solar hot water panel. There is no washing machine. There is a separate composting toilet 15 metres from the bothy, toilet roll is provided.
HEATING & LIGHTING
A wood-burning stove heats the bothy and a solar PV panel powers 3 lamps. There is a plug-socket for charging laptops and cameras but the power source is limited and only essential electrical goods should be brought. The bothy is off-grid, meaning it has a photovoltaic (PV) panel generating enough electricity to provide lighting and allow you to charge a mobile phone/laptop or run a radio. It won’t power a hair dryer, kettle or anything else that makes heat or requires a lot of power.
The Isle of Eigg Shop is a well-stocked shop and has a post office. The post office has a cash point which is free to use but we advise to bringing enough cash with you to last your stay, just in case of any problems. The shop is 4 miles from Sweeney’s Bothy, but can deliver if you order in advance or make an arrangement whilst you’re on the island. The shop accepts debit and credit cards. Most of the year, as well as the shop you can order organic veg and eggs from Eigg Organics which is situated close to the bothy.
THINGS TO DO
We advise contacting these businesses directly for their opening hours.
Next door to the shop is Galmidale Bay Café & Restaurant which is open most days for breakfast, lunch & dinner in the summer months and on ferry days in the winter. It also doubles as a pub most evenings in the summer and occasionally in the winter months. It accepts debit and credit cards. It takes about an hour to walk from Sweeney’s Bothy to the shop and tearoom, or you can stick your thumb out and catch a lift.
If you want your own transport whilst on the island, we encourage you to bring a bike. You can also hire a bike from Eigg Adventures.
There is a restaurant 300m from the bothy, called Lageorna – this is open most nights in the summer months and by arrangement in the winter.
There is a range of other accommodation near the bothy, including camping, bothies, yurts, bed & breakfast, self-catering & a guest house. See Eigg Accommodation.
Eigg Taxi service: Call Charlie on 01687 482 404.