The history of the Small Isles, to the south of Skye, is typical of the Hebrides: early Christianization, followed by Norwegian rule ending in 1266 when the islands fell into Scottish hands. Their support for the Jacobites resulted in hard times after the failed 1745 rebellion, but the biggest problems came with the introduction of the potato in the mid-eighteenth century, which prompted a population explosion. At first, the problem of overcrowding was lessened by the kelp boom, but the economic bubble burst with the end of the Napoleonic Wars and most owners eventually resorted to forced Clearances.

Since then, each of the islands has been bought and sold several times, though only Muck is now privately owned by the benevolent laird, Lawrence MacEwen. Eigg was bought by the islanders themselves in 1997. The other islands were bequeathed to national agencies: Rùm, by far the largest and most-visited of the group, possessing a cluster of formidable volcanic peaks and the architecturally remarkable Kinloch Castle, belongs to Scottish Natural Heritage; while Canna, with its high basalt cliffs, is owned by the National Trust for Scotland.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Scotland features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

8 great alternative UK city breaks

8 great alternative UK city breaks

London, Edinburgh, Cardiff… These are the usual suspects when visitors are thinking about UK city breaks. But there are actually 66 other cities to be explore…

22 Feb 2017 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
The most romantic places in the UK

The most romantic places in the UK

Whether your idea of romance is a stroll in the countryside or a sunset cocktail over one of the world's greatest cities, the United Kingdom isn't short of roma…

24 Jan 2017 • Phoebe Lowndes camera_alt Gallery
8 alternative UK winter breaks

8 alternative UK winter breaks

The UK gets pretty grim during the winter, with its dark, early nights and splutteringly cold weather. But if you can’t wait until spring to start having fun …

07 Nov 2016 • Greg Dickinson insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month