A beautiful and striking object from the sea
Whether you on Rum or looking at Rum, the island scenery is one of the most impressive on the west coast. The remains of an ancient volcano active 68 millions years ago, the mountainous landscape of Rum rises up from an equally impressive coastline of cliffs, natural arches and raised beaches. These were very aptly described by pioneering Scottish geologist John MacCulloch in1824: ‘There is a great deal of stormy magnificence about the lofty cliffs as there is generally all around the shores of Rum; and they are in most places abrupt as they are inaccessible from the sea. The interior is one heap of rude mountains, scarcely possessing an acre of level land. ….The outlines of Halival and Haskavel are indeed elegant and render the island a beautiful and striking object from the sea.’
The Rum Cuillin
The towering Cuillin of Rum, with their distinctive and dramatic profile, are recognisable from many parts of the west coast. They have sharp ridges and pyramidal peaks, with corries, lochans, screes, numerous rock outcrops and extensive flanks of moorland. The mountains themselves with their Nordic names dating back to Viking occupation - Askiva Trollaval, Ainshival - have a strong, imposing presence. Although not as high as their neighbours, the Black Cuillin on Skye, the Rum Cuillin are as popular with mountaineers and walkers.
A geologist’s paradise
The landscape of Rum is shaped by its complex geological features: in the north are the brown, stepped country of Torridonian sandstone, In the west are the green grassy terraces separated by cliffs of basaltic lavas, and in the south are the steep slopes, sharp peaks, and knife-edged ridges, where hard ultrabasic rocks have been carved like the Cuillin gabbro. Massive granite cliffs add yet another group of landforms around Bloodstone Hill, Glen Dibidil is a fine U-shaped valley, and at Kilmory there are a small line of sand dunes and a stretch of machair – one of the very few patches of cultivable land on the island.
No longer the Forbidden isle
Rum has long had a reputation for being ‘the forbidden isle’, owing to its forbidding and impenetrable appearance from the sea, and its history of clearances and elitist private ownership. Nowadays, as a nature reserve of national and international status, Rum welcomes scientists from all over the world to look at species reintroduction, habitat restoration and biodiversity research. But it is also a place for people to come and discover and enjoy the island’s scenery and wildlife, either on their own or with the expert guidance of the island ranger. With the setting up of the Rum Community Trust in 2009 to own and manage the area around the village of Kinloch including the new crofts created there, it is a place where people who love nature and wildlife can also at last put down their roots.
One of the earliest human settlements in Scotland
Despite its wild appearance, Rum has attracted human settlement from the earliest days. The green flint-like stone of Bloodstone hill was actually a much sought after resource for Scotland ‘s fishing and hunting nomadic communities, who as early as 8000 BC set up camp and knapped the stone into arrowheads traded over long distances. In medieval times around 1200 AD, the island had the prestigious status of a deer hunting reserve for the Lords of the Isles. Closer to us, the ruins of shielings and abandoned settlements as well as the presence of lazybeds whenever the land is not too steep for cultivation tell the sad story of the 19th century Rum Clearances.
A most eccentric castle
The imposing castle of red sandstone in Kinloch is probably one of the most interesting Edwardian follies of its kind. A testimony to the bygone age of industrial magnates, it boasts a varied collection of artifacts recreating the life of the wealthy at play at the turn of the 20th century. No visit to the isle of Rum would be complete without a listen to the melancholy tunes of the Castle Orchestrion, one of only two ever made in the UK, and a look at the castle’s innovative bathtubs!
Midge fest and Autumn watch
The Rum's ranger service schedules an impressive number of activities, walks and talks througout the summer months, providing numerous opportunities for spotting a wide variety of flora and fauna. Rum also has a very well stocked small shop situated adjacent to the village hall and a teashop which operates during the summer months where visitors can enjoy home baking, lunch and other light refreshments. Making the most of their natural assets, including the midge, the small but vibrant community of 40 permanent residents organises a yearly Midge festival every August. However, the midge has gone by the autumn, when the popularity of the Autumn Watch programme featuring the Red Deer rut on Rum has now given rise to the first two weekends in October devoted to observing this highlight in the Rum wildlife calendar from the specially designed deer hides at Kilmory under expert guidance by the Kilmory Red Deer researchers.