Aleria's Jaunt to Scotland: 22 July 2013, Rum in the Small Isles, Scotland

The anchorage in Loch Scresort on Rum

Castles, calderas, and wildlife on Rum

We sailed downwind out of the harbour to Ardnamurchan Point where the wind died, so we motored until the wind came back up. Lovely.   We were heading for the Small Isles, and the topography had changed significantly. The hills were more ragged and peaked. Ardnamurchan is the remains of a volcano, as are the Small Isles – Muck, Eigg, Rum, and Canna. We were heading to Rum which consists of huge peaks covered with forest. Very distinctive.  We wondered why it was called Rum and not Whisky, but we didn't find any answers. 

Kinloch Castle, abandoned and
surrounded in wire fencing
We finally spotted dolphins several times – small and not playful.  One pod had as many as five surfacing and then diving and staying down for a long time. Must have been feeding. There were some very interesting birds – black on top and white patches on their wings with bright red feet.  I wished I had a bird book onboard.  We later learned they were Tysties – otherwise known as Black Guillemots.

Ponies of Rum
We anchored in a sheltered crescent bay called Scresort Loch beneath tall wooded peaks and a castle on the shore.  The holding was good in hard sand and mud and there was plenty of room. Rum is a lovely island. Skye towers over its peaks in the distance. The island has deer, wild goats, native cattle which look more like water buffalo, otter, wild ponies, dragonflies and lots of birds. Rum is where the eagles were reintroduced into Scotland, and there are multiple pairs breeding on nearby islands now.  But we didn’t see any ravens, eagles or other raptors while we were there.

We decided to see the castle in the morning as it was already late when we arrived.  It was so hot that we put up our small awning and the beach umbrella we carry for this purpose.  It was forecast to be 22°C and 10 kts NE, but it was flat calm and MUCH hotter in the sun. There were several boats anchored here, including one Norwegian boat on which everyone disrobed and dove into the sea naked then paraded around their boat for all the anchorage to see. The Brits on the nearby vessel were glued to the scene, horrified.  But they did not look away.  

Camping cottages 
We went ashore at the old pier (not the new one where the ferry docks) which is closer to the castle.  We walked past the camping area and saw the shower and loo they have there.  Not too bad.  Then we realized we were on the wrong road and walked back to take the high road that goes to the castle. They have loads of street signs which must have been a grant thing, but they didn’t actually point in a way that got you to your destination.

Shower for campers
and boaters
Kinloch is an Edwardian castle built entirely out of imported red stone by an eccentric millionaire in 1897.  He had it furnished with the highest quality furnishings, then abandoned it intact.  The island had been previously stocked with deer for a hunting lodge, and the deer are a major feature of the island, although we did not see any.

The castle was closed tight and fenced with chicken wire along its porch.  It was 10 am and the only tour was at 2:30 pm and that was the only access to the interior. You couldn’t even look through the windows because you couldn’t get close enough. Well, we had to leave on the tide so there was no way we would be staying till late afternoon. What a disappointment.

We walked on to the “village” which looked rather trashed, with abandoned cars and garbage everywhere. The post office and café were closed. The “craft” shop was wide open with a few knitted things and some old post cards, but no one tending it.  We checked out the visitor centre and left.  Alex filed a sighting report for a dragonfly he spotted. They had a questionnaire asking about how they could get more visitors to come and I answered it honestly. Next time, I would hire a naturalist to take us around. But honestly, we didn’t see any people ashore until we were leaving and a group came for a hike with a guide.
Gate to nowhere

Fancy street signs but no sign of life

The "village"

The craft shop

A telephone booth

Leaving Rum in our wake


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