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The Magical Isle of Rum

Rum - About

Selection of images from the Isle of Rum

The Isle of Rum is one of the largest islands in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Situated off the west coast, it's part of the Small Isles archipelago, along with Eigg, Muck, and Canna. The island is a popular spot for outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife watchers and it’s not hard to see why. As you sail towards the island, the spectacular Rum Cuillin draws your eye. It makes a formidable hiking challenge but there are plenty of less daunting walking routes which provide you with spectacular views.

Its designation as a National Nature Reserve underscores its importance as a sanctuary for species including golden eagles, otters, and red deer. It is home to almost 30% of the world’s population of Manx Shearwater and is a favourite breeding ground for seals and otters. It’s also home to the Red Deer Project and was the location for the re-introduction of the sea eagle to Scotland.

Rum has a rich and varied past. It was inhabited as far back as the Mesolithic period, and archaeological evidence suggests human presence from ancient times. Over the centuries, it has been home to various communities, with influences from Norse settlers, Celtic tribes, and later Scottish clans. During the 18th and 19th centuries, it was transformed by the Clearances, a period of social and agricultural change in Scotland. Many residents were forced to leave their homes as landlords cleared the land for sheep farming. The island's population dwindled significantly during this time.

Today, Rum attracts visitors seeking outdoor adventures and natural beauty. The island offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife watching, and exploring its rich cultural heritage.


Isle of Rum - How to get to the Isle of Rum

Image of MV Lochnevis sailing to the Isle of Rum with the Skye Cuillin in the background

Reaching the island is part of the adventure and involves a beautiful rail, road or cycle trip up the west coast and through Fort William and onto Mallaig. Throughout the year, you can reach Rum on the Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) ferry service departing from Mallaig on the mainland. The MV Lochnevis sails 5 days a week during summer (end of March to mid October) with a slightly reduced timetable over the winter months.

In summer, you can also set sail from Arisaig aboard the MV Sheerwater. While the journey might take a tad longer, it's for a thrilling reason: the skipper frequently halts the boat to let passengers marvel at sightings of dolphins, seals, whales, and seabirds.

Exploring Rum from Skye is also possible with Bella Jane boat trips. Operating from Elgol, Skye, they provide full-day excursions, but can also offer the flexibility of one-way travel for those seeking overnight trips.

Where possible, book your tickets in advance. It not only ensures your passage but also means that you can be updated quickly if there are any service changes.


Isle of Rum - Where to stay

There are a few accommodation options and the island is working to provide more. Ivy Cottage at the top of Loch Scresort is a vegetarian and vegan guesthouse which provides dinner, bed and breakfast for guests with two spacious ensuite rooms and a gorgeous self- catering Shepherd's Hut commanding fantastic views out across the bay to Skye and the mountains beyond. Owner, Fliss Fraser, is a certified swimming guide and hosts regular retreats as well as guided wild swims.

Rum Bunkhouse provides accommodation for up to 20 people in four mixed dorm rooms and one twin room. The Bunkhouse was the first venture by the Isle of Rum Community Trust opening in 2014. It’s stylish and affordable with a large living and dining area with log burner and views over Loch Scresort and two fully equipped kitchens.

Kinloch Campsite is situated on the shore of Loch Scresort. With showers, solar panel charging points, communal bbq’s and a trendy communal shelter perfect for socialising and wildlife watching, it’s the perfect base to explore the island. There is also a ‘glamping’ option available in one of two cabins on site. Each cabin accommodates up to 4 people with the same facilities as the campsite and also an electric heater and kettle.

April, May and June tend to book up very quickly so it's advisable to book well in advance if you plan to visit during these months.

Rum Bunkhouse and pods. Images by Simon Hird.

It is also possible to wild camp or stay in a mountain bothy. Bothies are basic shelters open to all and maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association. Dibidil Bothy has bunks and a wood burning stove and Guirdhil has an open fire and a raised wooden sleeping platform.


Isle of Rum - Activities

  • Head to the Otter Hide -  Just a short walk away from the pier and through the Southside is an enclosed Otter Hide. This gentle walk (although note that it starts with short incline before continuing along a good quality but unsealed path) passes some of the island's early settlements. Keep an eye out for a variety of bird and sea life - the coastline is a favourite breeding ground for otters and seals.

  • Learn more about the island’s special features, its walking routes, wildlife, geology and archeology at Rum Visitor Centre - just a ten minute walk from the pier.

  • The old pier has a small beach which makes for the perfect wild swimming spot. Get in touch with Rum local Fliss Fraser if you would like a short, guided swim experience accompanied by a hot drink, cake and use of a dry robe.

  • Take a walk around the grounds of Kinloch Castle. Although the castle is no longer open to the public, visitors can still wander the grounds. The Rum ponies can often be seen in the fields next to the castle.

  • Just a stone's throw from Ivy Cottage guest house (and opposite the red telephone box) you will find the charming craft honesty shop DRIFT. Peruse at leisure and pick up a souvenir or home made gift.

  • Set out on the Northside Nature circular trail. The trail starts at the Community Hall (about 20-25mins away from the pier). At 1.7 miles long, it takes approximately 1 hr to circumnavigate. The trail gives you a taste of the wildness of Rum with views over to Hallival and Barkeval and plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities. With a bit of patience you might spot a golden or white-tailed sea eagle.

  • Head up the Coire Dubh Trail which follows the water course, Allt Slugan a’ Choilich, up to a viewpoint with good views towards Skye, the Outer Hebrides and Knoydart.

  • Head to the beach at Kilmory on the northern coastline of Rum. The return trip is 16km and takes in Kinloch Glen waterfall, the independence stone and the Deer Project. Visit the deer hide which overlooks the bay and out towards the Skye Cuillin. Through the Autumn months, it’s easy to spend several hours here taking in not only the beauty of the surrounding landscape but also the drama of the rut. (During the deer rut from late September to early October, you should take extra care, as rutting deer can be aggressive and extremely dangerous. Keep your distance!)

  • Take your mountain bike and cycle out to Harris on the west coast of Rum. This 25km round trip takes in the very heart of Rum and ends at Harris where the Bullough mausoleum is sited.

  • For climbers and experienced hikers, one of the finest and most challenging ridge walks in the UK is that of the Rum Cuillin traverse. Taking in 5 mountain summits, this 13 mile hike includes 1902m of elevation and spectacular views over the west coast.

  • On Sundays throughout the summer months, you can join MV Sheerwater for an afternoon on Canna and take in the delights of the puffin colony. (For 2024, Arisaig Marina has scheduled the following trips to Rum with an onward sailing to Canna - June 2nd, June 9th, June 16th, June 23rd, July 7th, July 21st, August 4th, August 11th, August 18th and August 25th).

  • Straveigg organises an annual trail running & local interest retreat on the Isle of Rum. Visit their website for more details.

  • After the sun sets, take in the spectacular night sky above Rum. The minimal light pollution means that it's possible to view the milky way with the naked eye and enjoy viewing meteors, shooting stars and the aurora borealis.


Isle of Rum - Where to eat

Isle of Rum General Shop

Isle of Rum General Store, run by Stuart and Jennifer, is a small but incredibly well stocked shop with a wide range of goods to suit all of your needs while visiting. It is located approximately 25 mins walk away from the pier (15 mins from the Bunkhouse), adjacent to the Village Hall. The shop is open every day from morning coffee right through to evening drinks with tea, coffee and good chat available. Hot and cold snacks are available for takeaway and cashless payment for purchases over £1.

Guests at Ivy Cottage are catered for with breakfast and dinner. It's sometimes possible for non guests to book a meal - get in touch with Ivy Cottage for more details.


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