On Tuesday the 25th of March a day trip to Rum was organised by the Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) and Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH). A week before the day of the trip the weather looked promising: rainy days had been replaced by dry days with some sunshine. However, nothing is as changeable as the Scottish weather! So the Monday before was nice, and the Wednesday after as well, but on the day itself it was, of course, grey.
The day started dull, but dry. We took the train to Mallaig, over the road to the isles, with beautiful views of Loch Linnhe, Ben Nevis and the Glenfinnan viaduct. When we arrived in Mallaig it was no longer dry, a light drizzly rain had started. At the Caledonian MacBrayne office we were welcomed by Ali, who works for the IRCT. Initially the plan was to split the group in two; one half would go with the CalMac ferry and the other half with the MV Orion (which normally runs the Seafari tours and only has a capacity of 12 people in winter). However, as it turned out, only 11 people showed up and we could all go on the Seafari boat.
The wind had picked up as well and the sea was very choppy; not very good conditions to see any marine wildlife like dolphins and seals. The boat ride to Rum took about half an hour and at the pier Marcel and his dog Sika were waiting for us. Marcel works for SNH and takes care of the circa 1100 deer, the ca. 20 Rum ponies and the Highland cattle on the island.
First we walked to the otter hide, a short (10 min) walk from the pier. By now the light rain had intensified to the light, but soaking variant. Of course, no otter was prepared to show itself, but at least the hut offered us some shelter from the rain. After Ali and Marcel answered some questions we left the hut and started to walk to the village Kinloch. On the way we past the campsite, the small information shed and the new bunkhouse. By now it had dried up and even the sun tried to peak through as we walked to Kinloch village.
At the community centre in Kinloch we were treated with a nice cup of tea/coffee. For lunch there was Rum venison stew with homemade bread and a good selection of cakes for afters. While we were eating we were introduced to some of the staff of SNH and IRCT. After lunch we went back out and surprise.... the rain had started again! We walked for 5 min on the Nature Trail and then three of the SNH staff told us more about the island, the nature reserve, the community and the wildlife (besides deer, the island has a very healthy population of Manx Shearwaters). The main message was that they wanted to welcome more visitors and do away with the image that Rum was a ‘forbidden’ island where you had tobe granted permission to visit. Sika the dog was not really interested in all this talk. She just wanted somebody, anybody, to throw her stick away and managed very well to disturb the talks (and we just had to laugh!).
After this we walked (soaked by rain) back to the village and on to Kinloch Castle. Mel from SNH showed us around the place. From the castle we then walked back to the boat and we left the island around 3.30pm.
This was just a quick visit to Rum, but they have good walks there, so definitely have to come back sometime! There's for example the Rum Cuillin Ridge walk along the mountain ridge of Rum, covering approximately 13.5 miles (22km), depending on your route, of steep ascent and descent with some moderate rock scrambling over six peaks taking about 12hrs. And there's the walk to Glen Guirdhil, which is apparently a great spot to see both white-tailed sea eagles and golden eagles!