This morning we took the the ferry from Ardvasar to Mallaig, on the mainland. There we boarded another ferry that took us to Rum, the largest in a group of four islands called “the small isles.”
Rum has plenty of outdoor attractions to explore: a population of red deer, unusual birds, nice vistas, abandoned villages.
Unfortunately it also has swarms of midges (tiny biting insects) and clegs (vicious horseflies; they are only in season for two weeks and this happens to be the time).
Fortunately, the thing I most wanted to see on the island is indoors: Kinloch Castle. This red sandstone pile was the playground of George Bullough, who built it as a hunting lodge at the turn of the 20th century.
Unfortunately, we managed to time our one-night visit so that we just missed the only tour of the day. But once again a hospitable island resident came to our aid. When I told Gavin, our host at the hostel attached to the castle, that I was really bummed not to be able to get inside the castle, he offered to take us around on a private tour.
You have to be a bit of a kook to construct a castle on a remote island. George was only 21 when he inherited the island of Rum from his father James, who had made his fortune in the textile business; sometimes goofy ideas sound good when you are 21. But he had the cash to make it happen, and George and his buddies had fun here for many seasons, shooting deer and racing their cars around the island’s three roads (George employed a team of men whose job it was to keep the roads raked for racing).
George had a wife, a society beauty named Monique Lily de la Pasture. Lady Monica was something of a character as well.
Gav told us that Lady Monica had a conservatory full of exotic plants and live hummingbirds. Unfortunately the heating system broke down one cold weekend and all the birds died. Her husband had them stuffed for her.
Rum has a population of 20, give or take a few. Check out the Isle of Rum News to see what it’s like to live in such a tiny community It actually sounds like fun, so long as you got along with your neighbors. We met one young woman who said she signed on to work there for 6 months but she’s still there, two years after her stint was up.