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The south anchorage on Muck is the easy one, even easier now it is buoyed making the old leading line involving the plantation on the skyline redundant. So it is even more crowded. Although the roll-on roll-off ferry pier is rather large and lumpish, it does allow visitors to be landed more safely, and for livestock to be moved around without so much hassle. So the anchorage is not as pretty as it once was — and there can be swell, but nonetheless it still retains its charm, as does the whole place, very much so. It is still on the edge of the world though. There has never been a post office or shop, or doctor. There was no telephone until 1956, and direct mail didn't arrive until 1965, 24/7 electricity not until 2013.
The whole island is extremely pleasant and well organised and farmed, probably because it has been in the careful and loving hands of the MacEwan family since 1896. It has been spared the chaos of the fast changing ownership of Eigg at the end of the last century, and the degradation of Rum by the Edwardian nouveau riche from Northern England. Nowadays Muck has a population of about 40 (at its height in the early 19th century it was in the 300s, before the people were 'cleared' in 1828 and set sail from Tobermory to the St Lawrence).
Just up from the pier is Jenny MacEwan's delightful small craft shop and tea room crammed with interesting bits and pieces, and serving home-made scones, buns and so on — come to think of it, these things could hardly not be home made here. And they do evening meals, by arrangement (07908 956 822). And there are two more craft shops nearby, presumably reflecting the number of tourists who can come across from Arisaig on the Shearwater for a day trip. Just up the hill you can buy eggs, crab and lobster when available. Also there is a burial ground, and it is a surprise to find a war grave there, and further up an abandoned village — A'chille.
Do walk across the island, the views of Rum and Eigg are excellent. On the north side is the relatively new Gallanach Lodge where you can get what sounds like excellent dinner, bed and breakfast. You might get dinner as a non-resident if they have room and you phone before 4pm (01687 462 365).
The north anchorage is altogether much more sporting with a leading line involving the correct barn of two, a wall which looks more like a cliff, and with little room to spare between two reefs. Moreover, the chartplotter does not seem to get the entrance line quite right — beware! But, as ever, it is not as bad as it looks in the Sailing Directions and the views from the anchorage of Eigg and Rum, and the wildlife are terrific. There are always seals around, and the usual selection of seabirds are very much in evidence, with the terns and oystercatchers making the most noise. Ashore, just to the east of the lovely beach (ideal for small children who are prepared to share with the cows and horses) is a narrow gut between two reefs with an old jetty and some rail tracks (what were these for I wonder?). Along the reef is a good spot for seals. And of course one can always walk across the island to the tearoom — maybe half-an-hour, if that.
If you want to know more, read Polly Pullar's 'A Drop in the Ocean, Lawrence MacEwan and the Isle of Muck', Birlinn 2014.
Finally, the name. Not muck as in dirt, but Gaelic for pig. Why pig? I don't know. However, it was not a name that was liked, at least not in the 18th century: Samuel Johnson noted "It is commonly called Muck, which the proprietor not liking, has endevoured, without effect, to change to Monk". While Boswell his companion added: "It was somewhat droll to hear the Laird called by his title. Muck would have sounded ill; so he (that is the laird) was called isle of Muck, which went off with great readiness".
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Port Mòr with Cuillins of Rum beyond
In the craft shop
Gallanach Bay, Rum beyond