Eigg IPA

Location: Hebridean Island, 10 miles offshore from Mallaig in the West Highlands of Scotland.

Grid Reference: NM 470 864

Eigg IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of Euphasia
  • The species richness of lichens in Broadleaved deciduous woodland: oceanic woodland (atlantic hazelwoods)
  • The Isle of Eigg is one of the most beautiful Hebridean Islands, lying 10 miles off the Scottish west coast, south of the Isle of Skye.

    Eigg is exceptionally diverse for a small island, with coast, unimproved farmland, willow and hazel scrub, native woodland, raised bog and moorland. The centre of the island is a moorland plateau, rising to 1,289 feet (393 metres) at An Sgurr, a dramatic pitchstone ridge, sheer on three sides.

    Cleadale, a fertile coastal plain lies in the north west. It is known for its quartz beach, called the "singing sands" (Tràigh a' Bhìgeil) on account of the squeaking noise it makes if walked on when dry.

    The island’s rich and varied plantlife includes 500 higher plant species (including 12 orchids) and 300 bryophytes, more than 20 of which are national rarities.

    In areas of the island which are covered by hazel scrub woodland, dog’s mercury, bluebells, wild garlic, wood anemone, wood sorrel and primroses abound in the spring. Later in the summer, they are replaced by ragged robin, honeysuckle, enchanter's nightshade, wood cranesbill, rosebay willowherb and many other species.

    12 types of orchid grow on the island, including the often abundant heath spotted, fragrant and northern marsh orchids. You might find scarcer varieties such as great butterfly, small white and frog orchids. The steep basalt cliffs around the coast support ungrazed ledge communities with characteristic species such as roseroot and sea campion. They are also home to a good cross section of alpine and arctic species including mountain avens, alpine willowherb, opposite-leaved golden, purple and yellow saxifrages, moss campion, and the rare arctic sandwort.

    Ferns are abundant and include species such as rusty bark, adderstongue and the odd-looking moonwort.