Every year we spend a part of our summer holidays in Scotland. This year we were not sure where we wanted to go until the last minute. One day we were having a family diner at my partner’s family and I spotted an album about the bothies in Scotland. One of them caught my attention in particular. It was Guirdil bothy at the Isle of Rum. So I suggested to my boyfriend that we would go there and he liked the idea. When we got home, we watched some Youtube videos and read some articles about the island and found out that it is a nature reserve, which made us wanting to visit the island even more!
We drove to Malaig on my birthday, the 6 August 2017. We stayed the night in a lovely B&B and took the 10 30am ferry to the island the next day. The views on the way were spectacular, like the one below of Canna Island:
We will definitely be back to explore Canna!
We arrived at the Isle of Rum at 2pm. We pushed our bikes up the hill and after ten minutes or so arrived to the log cabin, which we booked for two nights. It was managed as part of the bunkhouse, which has recently been renovated and the facilities were great, with warm showers and big kitchen and dining area. We met Jed, the manager who was very friendly and helpful.
We unpacked our stuff and had lunch by the cabin, which was located by the sea. The weather improved so we jumped on our bikes and headed to Kilmore beach. There was a few hills on the way. We left our bikes about three quarters of the way, as the terrain further up was quite rough and we had to cross a river to get to the beach. When we got there eventually, it was a truly breathtaking experience.
I was ready for swimming but suddenly, the clouds appeared, so there was nothing left to do but enjoying the magnificent views. We got a little bit upset when we met a lady who told us that there are plans to introduce a fish farm at the Isle of Rum… I really hope that this will not happen…
The next day the weather was not great, so we decided to take it easy. We went for a walk to the community hall and had some tea there. Then, at 2pm we went for a tour at the Kinloch castle.
This might have been the last chance to see it. The castle is falling apart and the £9 entry fee does not generate enough income for its renovation, which is unfortunate. It is a beautiful piece of history. The tour guide Ross was great, he talked about all the little details of life of George Bullough. I am not going to reveal all the secrets, you should really go and hear the story yourself. I can just tell you that George loved to party and in the castle you can see beautiful art from around the world, one of the examples is the Japanese art below:
Yes! It was OK to take photos inside, I did ask!
The following day we decided to climb the Cullins. We started by walking through the track at the back of the castle. It was pretty rocky there and there were beautiful burns running between the hills.
First, we climbed the Hallival. It is a steep mountain, however it was easier to climb then I thought it would be. Below, you can see the view from the top…
We descended from the summit half way and headed towards Askival, the highest mountain on Rum. It was a proper scramble. Some of the rocks were quite slippy. If you decide to climb this mountain, make sure that you wear proper boots. The top was different from what we expected it to be, the mountain is flat on the top. And of course, the views are magnificent. You can see Canna, Much, Eigg and the Cullins of Skye.
Walking down was challenging however the weather was on our side, it was not too windy and it did not rain. We thought about talking a shortcut on the way back and started looking out for a coastal path. There were lines of grass which looked like a path, so we trekked through the bogs to get to them. As we got closer, it turned out that it was not a path. We could already see the ferry terminal pier and this meant that our cabin was close, so we continued walking through a bog. After diner and a little rest, we decided to go to an otter hide. We jumped on our bikes. We stopped at a ferry pier on the way. It only took us five minutes to spot an otter there, so we just sat there and watched that beautiful animal. The plan of going to the otter hide was abandoned since the otter came to us!
Our goal for the next day was getting to Guirdill bothy. We got up early, had some porridge for breakfast and packed. Even though before leaving home we tried to ensure that we would only take necessities with us, we realised that our bags were still quite heavy. We ditched some more of our stuff and left it in the bunkhouse. Once packed we went for some more food to the community hall and then to the local shop. I have to say, the shop on Rum is super well equipped! There are even vegetarian options sold in there.
Our rucksack were still quite heavy. At the beginning of the bike ride, we pushed the bikes up the hill. It took us around an hour to get to the crossroads, where we left our bikes. It would not be possible to cycle all the way to the bothy. It was a heavy – going, muddy track, again, not for the faint-hearten! It was really difficult walking with our rucksacks on. Around half way through we met an English family whom we saw earlier on the ferry. Kids seem to be loving the trek! They told us that they were just coming back from the bothy and that they had a great time there. They also told us that they left some treats for us. We could not wait to see the bothy! The muddy track continued. Eventually, we could see the sea on the other side of a hill. We also had to cross a river, which for me, with my short legs, was quite challenging. Being over-ambitious, I did not take my rucksack off before crossing. I fell into the water and my feet got soaked. Knowing that we were close to the bothy, I decided to take my boots off and walked barefoot for the rest of the way. The moss under my feet felt like the softest carpet. Eventually, we got to the bothy. There was no one there apart from four stags guarding the bothy. They were not bothered by us at all! As soon as we settled in the bothy, a couple of guys from London arrived. One of them was a teacher who, being overworked and having no work – life balance was moving to Portugal. The other guy was an actor who went to East 15 acting school where I did a summer course a few years ago. I love it how in bothies you always meet interesting people you would never meet in a ‘real’ life.
The family who were there before us left us some wood. We went to get some more in the nearby woodland however there was not very much. We never take green wood, but sadly, some people do, there were signs of it the woodland. There are not many woodlands left on the Isle of Rum, it needs more trees! We had enough for a fire that night and spent a nice evening with our co-bothy-visitors. That night there was a massive storm. Giles and I slept upstairs and I thought that the roof would blow away, but it did not! Our new friends left in the morning and that night we had the bothy to ourselves. I spent the day collecting bloodstones. There are hundreds of them on the beach and I literally had to stop myself from collecting more, reminding myself that I have to carry them in my bag on my back! Later on I had a dip in a burn. It was freezing but felt amazing afterwards. Giles caught a fish for diner and while fishing, was getting mocked by a seal, who must have got all the biggest fish! The stags were still there, that must be their territory.
The fish cooked on the fire tasted amazing. It gave us that extra hit of energy we needed for staying warm that night.
The next morning we set off early. Over those two days, the bothy became our home, we certainly left a piece of ourselves in there. It was quite sad to leave it behind on a warm and sunny day.
The plan for the day was to get to Bullough mausoleum in the Harris Bay. The trek back to the crossroads was easier than getting there, it always is; once you know the way, it does not usually feel as long or as difficult. This time I took my boots off for crossing the river! It was a warm day so it felt amazing. We had lunch at the crossroads, relieved that our bikes were still there. Then we cycled to the next crossroads where we hid our heavy bags. We cycled the rest of the way to Harris Bay. On the way, we met magnificient highland cows, what an amazing life they have…
The weather was beautiful, we were super lucky again ( I say lucky, even though I do not believe in luck). The cycle It was strenuous, going up and down and up and down… But it was worth it, see the photo below:
On the way back we admired again the views of Hallival and Askival.
We managed to get back to Kinloch village just before the shop was closing and purchased a well -earned beer. We spent the last night back in the cabin and in the morning, we went to catch a ferry back to Mallaig. There was a little shag who acted as a ferry terminal guard, it did not leave until the last minute! You can just see it on the photo.
We were really sad to be leaving the Isle of Rum, but we will definitely be back!