As part of my trip around the Small Isles, I visited the isle of Rum, which is the largest of the Small Isles group.  I had visited Rum about 10 years previously. On that occasion I had to use the ‘Flit Boat’ from the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to make it onto the island. Nowadays, with the new Pier, it is much easier to disembark and this is what I did on a lovely Summer’s day. But there was a hint of trepidation …

I knew that Rum midges are some of the worst in Scotland and the day was muggy and overcast, perfect midge weather. As I started walking up the slipway from the Arisaig Marine ferry, I was greeted by a welcoming party of the tiny insects.

 

Isle of Rum - Ferry Slipway

Isle of Rum – Ferry Slipway

 

I had brought some Avon Skin-so-soft with me, as I had heard that this could protect me from midge attacks. As I walked through the swarm, I was starting to doubt those claims. However, once I had hit the main track to the village of Kinloch, the midges disappeared and for the rest of my time on Rum, I hardly saw any. Avon one, midges nil.

It is a strange experience walking around Kinloch. It is almost in a valley due to the high-sided hills that surround it. I quickly strolled the 15 minutes it takes to reach Kinloch and as I approached the village, I got my first real look at Kinloch Castle. It was as spectacular as I had remembered.

 

Isle of Rum - Kinloch Castle

Isle of Rum – Kinloch Castle

 

This magnificent Edwardian castle is the major tourist attraction on Rum and actually came second in the BBC’s Restoration programme a few years ago. There was a tour available around the Castle, so whilst I waited for this to start, I made my way around the village.

The Rum Visitor Centre has lots of information on the island and is a good starting point.  There are also several information boards around the village with added information.

Isle of Rum - Visitor Centre

Isle of Rum – Visitor Centre

 

Just after Kinloch Castle are the last remnants of the old Hunting Lodge that was the major building on the island before Kinloch Castle.  Past this was the Rum Crafts shop selling specialised local products and gifts from the island.  A few minutes walk from here was the Rum Community Hall and main shop.  In the Community Hall there is a Cafe and I treated myself to a coffee and a sublime Autumn Fruits Muffin. In the cafe there is a casual seating section and even a Pool table, as well as internet access and more information on the island.

 

Isle of Rum - Community Hall

Isle of Rum – Community Hall

 

I wandered back to Kinloch Castle in plenty of time and had a quick look around the back of the Castle.  Here I spied a distinctive red footbridge on the way to a waterfall.  As there was a path to it, I traversed the muddy footpath and made my way to it.  It looked like it belonged with the grandeur of Kinloch Castle and it produced an excellent view of the onrushing torrent of water beneath my feet.  I made my way back to the front of the Castle just in time for the tour to start.

I had done the tour on my last visit to Rum, but nevertheless I enjoyed it again.  The likeable tour guide was knowledgeable and informative and showed us around most of the available rooms within the Castle.  Our guide explained that they are hoping to get funding that would allow the Castle to be repaired and restored to somewhere near it’s former glory. I hope they get the funding, as it really is a stunning piece of architecture and it deserves to be seen by a lot more people.  For more information on Kinloch Castle, please read my article – Rum with a view

 

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All too soon, it was time to board the small ferry back to Arisaig on the mainland. I took one last lingering look and bade my goodbyes to this enchanting island. The next time I visit, I hope to stay for longer and maybe visit some of the Bothy’s on the other side of Rum.  Just me, my camera and my Avon Skin-so-soft.

 

Lee Allen

 

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