Monday, 7 May 2012

Rhum, part 1

I'd had a bad start to this trip. The drive to Skye was even longer than usual, thanks to an accident blocking the road. In Broadford the clouds were low and threatening rain. Then came a glimpse of sun, and a lift to my spirits as I turned into Glenbrittle. The Cuillins were clearing quickly.

The beach at Glenbrittle campsite was the start of my journey to the remotest of the Small Isles. Unfortunately, on a spring tide it was a long way to the sea.

I took a long time to get launched, but once afloat a fair wind helped me down to the mouth of the loch.

From here it is about 12km of open sea to the north of Rhum, which I wanted to circumnavigate. A quartering wind gave some help, and I was pleased with progress to reach the beach at Sabhnan Insir. Despite the sun, it was bitterly cold and I could stop only to take some pictures before jumping back into my boat to keep warm. The view backwards did give me a pleasant sense of achievement, though.

One of the disadvantages of paddling alone, with a loaded boat, is that it is very difficult to take much of a rest. If the tide is going down, the boat is left high, dry and impossible to move. If the tide it is rising, it floats away. Coupled to this, Rhum is short on good landing spots. I managed a quick break at Loch Scresort, where the thrift was beginning to bloom.

The brisk breeze helped me down the north-east coast of Rhum towards Loch Scresort. Travelling down here I picked up the coastguard weather forecast. I'd been expecting the following day to be windy, but the wind speed was now be due to be up a notch at 6 or 7. I reckoned I'd have to make some distance today.

From here the coast becomes steadily more rugged, with fine views to the Rhum Cuillins. I paused in the bay at Dibidil bothy.

I'd thought of stopping here for the night, Dibidil must be one of the loveliest bothies in Scotland. As a paddling halt, however, it has the disadvantage of a steep boulder beach in a narrow gap. It would ensure a good shower before leaving the water, though.

I was getting tired, at this point the wind changed abruptly. One moment it was pushing me along, the next it was straight into my face,
Again the rocks and cliffs were spectacular, It is hard to get to more remote places in this land.

I finally fetched up on the beach at Harris, after about 45 km.
It is a truly wonderful place, but my pleasure at being there was touched with a bit of anxiety about the following day. I'd only just landed when the sky began to darken as the forecast front moved in. I fed myself quickly and had a short walk to try and ease stiff muscles.
Rhum has a strange history, having been the the property of the Bullogh family in the early part of the 20th century. They seem to have though a lot of themselves, and chose this far from anywhere spot to build themselves a grand mausoleum,
I lay in my tent, tired and a bit cold. Quite suddenly I became aware of a change in the light outside. For a few minutes the setting sun lit up the slopes of Runsival. It was exactly the colour of my whisky. In the other direction, the mausoleum was in silhouette.

It was then time for bed.


  1. Lovely photos, must have been a good whisky.

  2. Hi Iain, a great post with fantastic pics. Rhum looks spectacular. Looking forward to part 2.

    David A.

  3. Absolutely superb Iain!

    There are some cracking images here, and what a trip. Looking forward to the neext instalment :o)

    Kind Regards