(Gaelic name meaning… Isle of the Ridge)
The Isle of Rum is a mosaic of marine and terrestrial habitats rich in wildlife all through the year. The dramatic mountains of the Rum Cuillins plunge into the sea, and the character-filled village of Kinloch is home to a grand and eccentric castle.
Rum is world-renowned for wildlife, with important habitats in the seas, shores and hills for an abundance of species. The island is a National Nature Reserve and sits at the centre of the Small Isles Marine Protected Area.
At the centre of the Small Isles, Rum is perfectly placed for wildlife watching, both on land and at sea. The local seas are a stronghold for the harbour porpoise, and in summer months you might spot minke whales or basking sharks from the ferry. The island is home to the largest colony of Manx shearwaters in the world, and look out for the red deer, wild goats and Rum ponies that roam the isle.
It’s a small community that call Rum their home, but you are sure of a warm welcome. Kinloch is small but is full of great places to explore, from the wildlife hide, visitor centre, castle and community centre café, there is something for everyone. Stay a little longer and venture out into the Rum wilderness, you will soon be captivated by the raw beauty of this majestic island.
A bit about the site
The site is the ‘Otter Hide’- an enclosed wildlife-watching hide on the south shore of Kinloch Bay. It lies at the end of a sign-posted good gravel path through a beautiful woodland, and is wheelchair accessible. There are seats and benches inside.
There are toilet facilities in the Visitor Centre, a 15min walk from the Otter Hide, and a cafe, “Kim’s Kitchen” in the Village Hall & craft shops in the village which is a 25min walk away.
Wondrous creatures in the waters
Look out for
Bottlenose dolphins Minke whales
Red throated divers
Manx shearwater Curlew
The names of the hills on Rum have their roots in Norse, as these shore were once visited by vikings! Around a quarter of the world’s population of Manx shearwaters nest in the hills of Rum, raising their young in burrows on the slopes. The hills come alive at night, echoing with the calls as thousands of these birds swoop through the starlit skies. The story goes that vikings arrived on Rum and quickly left, believing the haunting calls of these shearwaters were made by trolls dwelling in the hills! These days the most fearsome creature you would expect to encounter along the trail isn’t a troll, but rather the ferocious Scottish midge.
Smells like dinner
Sharing the same favourite fish as minke whales, large groups of Manx shearwaters can be a promising sign that a whale is around. Shearwaters have an incredible sense of smell, using this to navigate the seas and even find their food. Amazingly, they use a distinctive smell of the sea, to sniff out large shoals of fish and track them down from miles away. Responsible for the tangy odour are tiny plankton, which give off the gas when under attack. Unfortunately however this smell is not always reliable, as plastic in the ocean often takes on the same tasty smell, resulting in many seabirds mistaking debris for a delicious dinner.