Scotland // Skye and the Western Isles //


Like Skye, Rùm is dominated by its Cuillin, which, though only reaching a height of 2663ft at the summit of Askival, rises up with comparable drama straight up from the sea in the south of the island. The majority of the island’s twenty or so inhabitants now live in KINLOCH, the only village, overlooking the large bay on the sheltered east coast, and most are employed by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), which runs the island as a National Nature Reserve. Two gentle waymarked heritage trails start from Kinloch, both taking around two hours.

The island’s best beach is at KILMORY, to the north, though check with the reserve manager about public access. The hamlet of HARRIS on the southwest coast once housed a large crofting community; all that remains now are several ruined blackhouses and the extravagant Bullough Mausoleum, which was built in the style of a Greek Doric temple by Sir George to house the remains of his father, and overlooks the sea.

Kinloch Castle

Rùm’s chief formal attraction is Kinloch Castle, a squat red sandstone edifice fronted by colonnades and topped by crenellations and turrets, that overshadows the village of Kinloch. From the galleried hall, with its tiger rugs, stags’ heads and giant Japanese incense-burners, to the “Extra Low Fast Cushion” of the Soho snooker table in the Billiard Room, the interior is packed with knick-knacks and technical gizmos accumulated by Sir George Bullough (1870–1939), the spendthrift son of self-made millionaire Sir John Bullough, who bought the island as a sporting estate in 1888. Look out for the orchestrion, an electrically driven barrel organ (originally destined for Balmoral) crammed in under the stairs. You can also spend the night here, and there’s a bistro and a bar.

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