Wilderness Guide Jonathan Willet explains some of his favourite highlights from an iconic island from the West coast, The Island of Rum: Your Guide to Explore.
Where is Rum?
Rum is the largest of the Small Isles (Muck and Eigg are the other two) on the west coast of Scotland. It is a fantastic place with eerie solitude in some areas, Edwardian grandeur, TV celebrity and some amazing hills to be climbed. There now is a good track to get across the island so if you have your bike you can easily access the two road ends in an hour or two.
Where to go?
Kinloch is the only settlement on the island and where you find the grand Edwardian pile of Kinloch Castle. This was built by Sir George Bullough a Lancastrian Industrialist. It was completed in1900, took three years to build and cost in today’s money £15 million, though the labour costs today would be much greater. The stone was imported from Arran and the gardens are rooted in 250,000 tons of Ayrshire topsoil. A tour of the opulent interior is well worth it.
You can head over to the sandy beaches of Kilmory in the north of the island. This area has been made famous by Autumnwatch and its footage of the rutting Red Deer. Studies of the Red Deer on Rum have been going on since 1953, making it one of the longest scientific studies on mammals on the world. Seemingly East Africa was the first choice but political unrest there made the researchers choose Rum. The sandy beaches are formed from the erosion of the Torridonian Sandstone in this area giving them a pinkish hue.
Heading south-west you can take the track to Harris and view the impressive Bullough mausoleum. Built in a classical Greek style is does stand out somewhat. It is possibly the only Doric temple in the Highlands and Islands. The previous mausoleum can be seen in a bank a few hundred meters to the west. It was made of concrete and had an interior of colourful Italian mosaic. One visitor commented that it looked like a Victorian toilet, which caused an irate Sir George to have it blown up and a more classic one built.