Monday, 18 March 2013

What last week looked like

I left Rum for the third time since we arrived last week for a three night trip to Skye, Harris and Lewis. I was joining Vikki the Development Officer and Mike the Ranger on a research trip to other visitor centres to get some ideas, learn about how others have done things and start collecting information to help form our community vision for a visitor centre on Rum which we hope to make happen at some point in the next few years. We have big plans for converting a steading building into the heart of the village with all sorts of exciting facilities based around a Visitor Centre. Very early stages and as so often happens the more you learn the more you give yourself to think about but it was a great opportunity to go off with grown ups, see a wee bit more of the surrounding islands and so something for the community. It was a pretty full on few days with six ferry trips, 300 miles of driving (I actually did 400 as I did a quick dash along to Fort William on the Monday to stock up on supermarket shopping, adding another 100 miles to my driving total), and a different bed in a different place every night.

Waving goodbye. Leaving the other three in each others' capable hands. I missed them all loads.

standing in a dinosaur's footprints on Skye

Flora McDonald's grave, Skye

Over the sea from Skye

Isle of Harris

The standing stones at Callenish

At Callenish
 Skye felt very familiar having spent so much time driving round it in 2011 although it was a little different being the driver rather than the passenger and sitting in a car rather than high up going slow in Willow the campervan. I like Skye a lot and still think it could have offered our family a lot if we'd settled there with greater opportunities and facilties not to mention access to the mainland. It would have been a different life to what we have here though and without the freedom and pioneering feel to our current set up.

We didn't see much of Harris at all really as we were on a tight schedule so I didn't get a real feel for the flavour of it but I did manage to purchase a few small scraps of Harris tweed and some Harris wool to make myself something with so I brought a bit of the place home with me. We saw slightly more of Lewis and it felt a lot like Rum landscape wise although of course larger, loch-ier (not sure that's a word!) and with the added landmarks of electricity pylons which for me just stand out so stark against nature. One of the things I love most about Rum is that it is still mostly claimed by nature rather than humans, that balance felt a little tipped the other way on Lewis. Heading to the Outer Hebrides really brought it home to me how remote we are on Rum actually - so very far from family and friends all the way down in Sussex both literally and metaphorically. It's a different world we inhabit up here and somewhere there is a balance between bringing a little of our previous mainland world with us to add and enhance and leaving a lot of it behind to liberate and lighten.

As ever, it was good to be home.


  1. Lewis going to look a lot more electricity pylon-ier if they build all these wind farms they're talking about (I'm not against them, I'm just saying!)

    That apart, does Rum need a "visitor centre"? Places to stay (B&B, camping etc.), yes but a "visitor centre" to compete with the castle? But maybe I'm guilty of pre-conceptions and old fashioned ones at that so look forward to hearing what's planned.

  2. It'd not be to compete with the castle, just to add to the offering for visitors to Rum. We have the wildlife, human history, archaeology, geology and so on also here - Rum is so much more than just Kinloch castle. The idea of a visitor centre is to bring the rest of Rum to people who are not necessarily here long enough to see or experience all of it, or as a starting point to begin exploring. The long term plan is for a very exciting development in the centre of the village including educational / classroom space, cafe, more accommodation, ranger space etc. Whilst we don't want to turn into some big commercial operation there is a need both for a greater offering to visitors and opportunities for people who live and work here too.