Discover The Isle of Gigha, Inner Hebrides Scotland
Discover the Isle of Gigha – this is a tiny little Island that sits off the west coast of Scotland and is part of the Inner Hebrides. It is a small twinkling jewel in the Atlantic which is only 7 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It nestles alongside the Kintyre peninsula and is 3 hours away from Glasgow.
Unusually, the island is owned by the community, after it was placed on the market in 2001 and it was suggested the islanders purchase it. This is exactly what they did and now they have formed the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust to manage it. An annual celebration is held on 15th March to commemorate this, known as Gigha Day.
Gigha is not as well-known as some of the other Hebridean islands, yet It has something for everyone. It is the perfect haven for those wanting to get away from the bustle of modern living, to find peace, nature, and stunning natural phenomenon. Gigha has a temperate climate as it is low lying and benefits from the North Atlantic Drift. This makes the island dry and warm. These conditions mean that flora, fauna and wildlife simply thrive there. Stunning sunsets, rolling hills, lochs, silver beaches, turquoise seas make it a paradise to behold.
It is no surprise, given its proximity to Ireland and Northern Europe that Gigha was settled by the Irish and the Vikings.
Gigha has extremely fertile soil and therefore it’s industry is predominantly agriculture and farming. Gigha was devoid of forestation for nearly 200 years, until Sir James Horlick of Achamore House planted a woodland.
No Scottish island is without its own tales of battles over land and power and Gigha, small as it is, did not escape this wrath either. For many years it was in the possession of the Clan MacNeill, who later passed it over to Clan Neill after fighting off Clan Macdonald many times.
In the 20th Century, Gigha became the property of Sir James Horlick who created Achamore Gardens along with Kitty Lloyd Jones.
The ruined church of Kilchattan was dedicated to St Catan, an Irish missionary of the 6th Century, who visited the region on a pilgrimage of Christianity. This area was a busy hub for religious travellers which was also prevalent at this time in other parts of the Hebrides with St Columba and many others. Kilchattan church was built a few hundred years later in the 13th Century and is typical of the architecture of that era.
Gigha has several ruins and standing stones that reflect its Christian roots, which can be found in fields and on roadsides across the island, such as the Stone of Tarbert which is 7-foot-tall and is shaped like a hand. Its origin and reason for being is not known. Gigha is also famous for ancient stones at Bodach and Cailleach.
Things to Discover on the Isle of Gigha
Gigha has opportunities to partake in outdoor or artistic pursuits aplenty. When visiting be sure to check out some of these attractions and sights:
- Spouting Cave
- Standing Stones
- Cuddyport beach and nearby Quern Stone Quarry
- Gallochoille ancient harbour
- Rhubh’ A Chinn Mhor sheltered beach
- Creag Bhan 100m hill
- Gigha Gallery, crafts and tearoom selling pottery, knitwear, cards and smashed glass jewellery. Why not try your hand at learning a fiddle or mandolin, or participating in a stained glass, felting or mosaic workshop.
- The Wee Gift Shed
- Gigha’s Natural Skincare
- Living Tree Orchid Essences
The main village on the Island is Ardminish, where accommodation and amenities are found. There is one hotel and self-catering properties for those wishing to stay on Gigha. The Trust are also currently developing an official camp and motorhome site which is expected to open in Spring 2021.
The Isle of Gigha has the benefit of no light pollution so that the pitch black night skies give away the solar system in all its splendour. 77% of the UK population can’t see the Milky Way, yet on Gigha it is extremely clear and visible, as are the Northern Lights. There are several events held on the island that provide informative stargazing experiences. Definitely a destination of choice for budding astronomers.
The trust also manage a community fund that generates an income from renewable energy and funds projects for health and wellbeing, developing skills, stopping poverty, protecting heritage and encouraging engagement. A truly remarkable place and people
On reading some of the reviews of those who have visited the island, the overwhelming feedback is the beauty of the landscape, the tranquillity, the friendliness of the islanders and the superb food and amenities.
The Isle of Gigha needs more recognition and is definitely a place Self Catering Scotland recommend, worthy of any bucket list.