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60 Minutes' adventure to the Isle of Eigg

Adventure to the Isle of Eigg
60 Minutes' adventure to the Isle of Eigg 05:52

The sounds of the Isle of Eigg are calming—sheep bleat, waves crash, and in the distance, a bagpipe blows. But it's the views that steal a visitor's attention. Craggy rocks rise above unencumbered fields of grass, giving way to an ocean as blue and expansive as the sky.

"A lot of people will say, 'Who's your favorite author? Who's your favorite player? What's your favorite band?' You would often hear on Eigg, 'What's your favorite view?" says 60 Minutes producer Draggan Mihailovich, who co-produced this week's dispatch from the remote Scottish island.

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60 Minutes has a tradition of taking viewers on an adventure, showing them a place they've never been and will probably never go. This week's adventure is the Isle of Eigg (pronounced like "egg"), an island in the inner Hebrides, 10 miles off the Scottish coast. Just three miles wide and about six miles long, the population this year hit a milestone — it topped 100 residents.

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The broadcast's journey to Eigg began by way of other isles, when co-producer Laura Dodd traveled to the Galápagos Islands in July 2016. She found herself talking to a British couple and telling them that, as a journalist, she's always on the hunt for a good story with interesting characters. They suggested Eigg.

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"They explained that it's a kind of glorified bike path that squirms through the whole place," Dodd says. "And it's unspeakably beautiful. And I just thought, 'There's some legs to this.'"

Co-producer Laura Dodd biking on the Isle of Eigg

The idea certainly had legs—mostly those of the sheep that populate the island and the sheepdogs that herd them. But it also had a few other appealing elements.

Driving on the Isle of Eigg

"The way I enticed Steve Kroft, our correspondent, to do the story was I said, 'Scotland, beauty, characters, quirkiness, whisky,'" Mihailovich says. "That was about it."

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So a few months later, Dodd, Mihailovich, and Kroft disembarked a small watercraft and took their first step on the isle. Though Eigg does receive visitors — about 12,000 tourists came last year — most spend only a few hours because there are very few places to stay. The 60 Minutes team doubled up at the island's bed and breakfast, and they also slept in pods — wooden shacks large enough to lay down a small sleeping bag.

60 Minutes producer Draggan Mihailovich

The crew was allowed a single vehicle, so the producers rode bicycles, leaving the car for the lights, tripods, cameras and sound equipment.

Well, that and the correspondent.

"Truth be told, Steve never slept in a pod, never got on a bike," Mihailovich adds.

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Eigg's essentials seem to be pared down to one: one grocery shop, one primary school for five students, one pub at the tea room down by the wharf. The island's tiny electrical grid powers it all, and it's run almost entirely on renewable energy — a combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar. It's the first time that's ever been accomplished anywhere.

Despite this achievement, as Kroft reports, Eigg's residents have no grand ambitions, no discernible interest in development, no desire for hundreds of new residents.

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"I think we're looking for one or two at a time," Maggie Fyffe, the island's secretary, tells Kroft on the broadcast. "I think that's how it works here. Then it works a lot better. And we've got time to get used to new people."

The 60 Minutes crew carrying their gear on the Isle of Eigg

When their reporting was finished, the 60 Minutes team was reluctant to leave the idyllic Eigg-- even Steve Kroft.

"Normally with a correspondent, they're either looking forward to going home or looking ahead to their next production," Mihailovich says. "As we were getting ready to board to ferry to take us back to the mainland, Steve sort of turned to me and said, 'Do we have to go?'"

The video above was produced and edited by Lisa Orlando.

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