This anchorage is set in a beautiful situation, but is very open and exposed to swell. It is a small bay facing Lismore and lying in the SW to NE line of the Morvern coast. We visited it in very settled conditions, so while it should provide reasonable shelter from winds from WSW to NNE, it is quite possible that it may be subject to squalls and downdraughts from the adjoining hills.
To the SE of Eigneig Cottage, there is a mooring buoy lying fairly close to shore in about 3m (chart datum), which suggests that it was laid for a RIB or other shoal draught vessel. Presumably the buoy was laid by the estate for visits to the cottage, which is locked and probably an estate bothy. It is not known whether the buoy is regularly inspected, which, which along with the shallowness of the water, makes anchoring more attractive in all but the most benign conditions.
As the day was windless and the sea calm, and as we were not intending to stay overnight, we used the mooring buoy, but would anchor there in other circumstances.
The chart suggests that the bottom of the bay is stones. We visited Camas Eigneig on a very still and sunny day, when the water was exceedingly clear, and, although we did not test the bottom with a leadline and grease, we could clearly see that the bottom was sand with shells on the surface.
Ashore, the walking is quite hard going; what remains of the path to Loch Teàrnait (and then to Loch Aline) was in poor condition, certainly near the cottage. The open ground is tussocky and ankle twisting. There are deer fences, and a gate for the path shown on the OS map. There is a sign advising walkers to take care with adders, pointing out that the nearest doctor is 8 miles away in Lochaline.
At some point, there appear to been a few cottages in the area. Across the burn from Eigneig cottage, to the east, are the remains of another cottage, with yet at least one other in the next shallow bay to the NE. In amongst the bracken and the tangle of undergrowth are the remains of small buildings and the walls of fields or enclosures. Among the trees close to Eigneig Cottage, there are a couple old ropes for swinging on. I wonder if these were just for the children of seasonal visitors, or whether Eigneig had its own children who were bought up there.
We enjoyed our brief visit, but, regrettably, know very little of the history of the area, apart, that is, from the so-called Treaty of Artornish (near Loch Aline), which seems to have been a particularly stupid piece of political positioning by the leading Highland clan of the day. However, I did come across this extract from an article, Artificial Islands in the Highland Area, published by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 1913;
- The fugitives were often pursued from Ardtornish up the hill to Tearnait, and some hold that Ardtornish means ' hard pursuit up the hill.' If those pursuing managed to get between the fugitives and Tearnait Loch, the poor fugitives had to go Eigneig way. This was a hard plight for them, and Eigneig is supposed to mean ' place of hardship.'
A more complete extract is copied below.
- Loch Ternate.—This island was suggested as artificial by Mr A. Nicholson of Arisaig; and Mr John Ross, keeper, sent the following interesting information and traditions about it: " The island is nearly circular, measuring on the water-line 70 feet in diameter. Its surface is about 5 feet above the summer level of the loch. Its diameter on the floor of the loch will be about 95 feet. The water is about 12 feet deep, though the island seems to be on the edge of a bank of clay over a deep bed of soft mud. The boulders are of two kinds, granite and whinstone, and have been ferried from each side of the loch, as these boulders occur on the opposite sides—the granite on the north and the whinstone on the south. No boulder is heavier than one man can handle. The timber foundation is of oak, and appears to have its logs laid from the centre to the circumference. A sycamore, now past maturity, grows on the island, and has attained a girth of 9 feet at breast height. The loch is pear-shaped, probably about 100 acres in extent, and the island is in the heart of the pear. The remains of the piers, one on each side of the loch, can be traced.
"This small island once had a retaining wall round it, except in two places where a boat could be drawn up—a necessary thing in times of storm. On the island there was said to have been formerly a building or shelter for any who had to live on it. Those accused of crimes from Lismore or Mull or neighbouring places, if they got permission from the Chief of Ardtornish to reside forty-eight hours on the island, were free from any liability to punishment. The island was thus a sanctuary—hence name Tearnait or Tearnaech Inaid, ' place of safety.' While on the island the fugitives were fed on fuarag— meal and cream. On the north side of the island there is a place called Roinn-na-bannaraich, that is, point or place of the dairymaid. The meal was made by quern. In fleeing the fugitives often landed with boats at back of Ardtornish Castle, and till recently there were rings there in stones for holding boats. These were removed by tramps, but one iron ring still remains. The fugitives were often pursued from Ardtornish up the hill to Tearnait, and some hold that Ardtornish means ' hard pursuit up the hill.' If those pursuing managed to get between the fugitives and Tearnait Loch, the poor fugitives had to go Eigneig way. This was a hard plight for them, and Eigneig is supposed to mean ' place of hardship.' If the fugitives were caught ere reaching the island, they were taken to Cnoc-nan-Tighearnan, that is, the Hillock of the Chiefs, where they were tried. This hillock is in sight of the island. If condemned, the criminals were taken to Savary, and executed there on Tom-na-Croich, the Hillock of Hanging. The place bears the name to this day. The above tradition about the island has been current for long, and was often told by Dugald M'Gregor, who died twenty years ago at Knock, and whose ancestors were in Morvern for two hundred and fifty or three hundred years."