Inhabited since the eighth millennium BC, Rum has provided some of the earliest archaeological evidence of human occupation in Scotland. Under the changing ownership of various clans and lairds, the population grew to over 400 around the start of the nineteenth century but was cleared of its indigenous population in the first half of the nineteenth century. The island was then a sporting estate and the somewhat bizarre Kinloch Castle was constructed in 1900. Rum was purchased by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1957, and then passed into the ownership of Scottish Natural Heritage.
A summit, called in December 2007, initiated a process whereby islanders have subsequently voted in their majority to see part of the island pass into the ownership of the Isle of Rum Community Trust. The area around Kinloch Village is now owned by the trust, with the intention for residents to have greater control and input into the development of the island and its resources, similar to the situation on Eigg. The rest of the island is still owned by Scottish Natural Heritage, and continues to be run as a National Nature Reserve.
Rum is of exceptional ecological importance, but thanks to its volcanic origins and its present day wildlife, notably red deer and white-tailed sea eagle. With the exception of Kinloch, the island is uninhabited, and offers stunning landscapes and walking.
There are two scheduled boat services that connect Rum with the mainland:
- The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry MV Lochnevis sails to all four of the Small Isles from Mallaig throughout the year. It calls at Rum once on Monday, twice on Tuesday, twice on Thursday and once on Saturday during the winter; twice on Monday, twice on Wednesday, twice on Friday and twice on Saturday in the summer.
- During the summer, Arisaig Marine provide wildlife sightseeing cruises from Arisaig, about 10 miles south of Mallaig. Different islands are called at on different days, but the timetable generally allows access to Muck on days when the CalMac ferry does not.
If not travelling to Mallaig or Arisaig by car, you can reach the ferries by scheduled ScotRail train service (although note that the pier at Arisaig is not as close to the railway as the pier at Mallaig).
The famous 'Deerstalker' Caledonian Sleeper provides first class (single cabin) and standard class (double cabin) sleeper and reclining seat travel between Fort William and London Euston every night except Saturday. Local trains connect to Mallaig.
If travelling by day train, travelling to Rum from anywhere further south than Fort William is only possible without an overnight stop in Mallaig on summer Saturdays, when the early morning train from Glasgow Queen Street station connects with the second CalMac sailing to Rum.
Travelling from Rum to points beyond Fort William by day train is likewise only possible on summer Saturdays, when the first CalMac sailing from Rum connects with the train to Fort William and Glasgow Queen Street.
- Shiel Bus operate services from Fort William to Arisaig and Mallaig.
- Citylink buses go from Fort William to Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
- Kinloch Castle, PH43 4RR (20 minute walk from the ferry terminal), ☎ +44 1687 462037. Tours daily in summer, starting between 13:30 and 14:30. Incredible late Victorian castle, built as the summer home of a Lancashire textile tycoon, Sir George Bullough. The construction required 300 men, at a total cost of £250,000. Unfortunately the building is in need of renovation, but the tour is interesting,particularly the orchestrion, the plumbing, and some of the things collected on travels. £9.
- Rum Crafts, Shore Road (next to the red phone box). selling a variety of handmade crafts, including knitting, soap and bloodstone
- Tea Shop (Inside the village hall). A cafe open daily (11:00 - 16:00) from April to September, for hot and cold drinks, snacks, light meals and home baked treats. The wild deer of the island can be sampled in the Venison Stew, which is normally available and highly recommended.
- General Store & Post Office (Next to the village hall), ☎ +44 1687 460328, e-mail: email@example.com. Post office open 1000-1200 on ferry days, shop open most evenings 1700-1930. A small but well stocked shop, selling a range of groceries, including vegetables, snacks and alcohol. For larger groups, groceries can be pre-ordered, at least one week in advance.
- Kinloch Castle, ☎ +44 1687 462037. Has a bar with an open fire that is open most evenings. Open to non residents as well as hostel guests.
Details of all accommodation on the island can be found on the island's website.
- Kinloch Hostel, ☎ +44 1687 462037, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The hostel used to be inside Kinloch Castle, but due to the deteriorating condition, it has moved into an adjacent temporary building. It has 8 dorm rooms, each with 4 beds. All accommodation is self-catering, with a kitchen and lounge provided. £19.50 per person.
- Bothies. Two are maintained by the Mountain Bothies Association at Dibidil and Guirdil. Both are a long walk from the village, over rough paths.
- Kinloch Village Campsite (Next to the old pier). A small campsite on the shore of Loch Scresort, with basic facilities including fresh water, washing up basins, toilets, hot showers and wooden shelters. £6 per adult per night.
- Camping Cabins (At the campsite), e-mail: RumKabins@gmail.com. Two wooden cabins are available, each with 4 single mattresses. These are fully insulated, with solar lighting. £22 per night (up to 2 people).
- Wild camping is permitted on the island, but you must follow the Outdoor Access Code. You are advised to speak to the reserve office or community ranger before setting out, who can advise you where to avoid during sensitive periods for wildlife. Fires are not permitted when camping wild.
- Rum Bunkhouse, e-mail: email@example.com. Currently under construction, as a replacement for the hostel. It is due to be completed by September 2014.
- The Reserve Office can provide information about the island, as well as outdoor activities and camping. Tel +44 1687 462026.
- The Isle of Rum community website can be found online at isleofrum.com