The Isle of Rum is a popular day trip with guests at Mingarry Lodges. Not only a great wildlife destination but also an island with an interesting history and geology. With the recent reduction in ferry fares there is no better time to visit (a return passenger crossing from Mallaig costs just £8.30). Mallaig is around a 50 minute drive from Mingarry Lodges and the Cal Mac ferries head out to The Small Isles daily. The ferry sails to different Islands at different times each day so it is best to pick the right day for Rum in order to maximise time ashore. On Wednesdays the ferry leaves Mallaig at 10:15 arriving at Rum at 11:35. You have some four hours to explore the Island before catching the return ferry which departs at 16:20.
Check in at Mallaig closes 15 minutes before the ferry sets sail and it is best to arrive in plenty of time as the main car park at Mallaig can get quite busy and you may have to park a short walk away along the promenade. The MV Loch Nevis is a very comfortable ferry with a very reasonably priced restaurant on the lower deck. An ideal place to grab a cup of tea and a famous Cal Mac bacon sandwich or have fish and chips on your return journey. Alternatively, why not buy a take-away fish supper from Jaffy's on the High Street at Mallaig and head up to the harbour viewpoint where there are some well positioned picnic benches.
The front of the ferry is a great place for viewing and photographing wildlife. We've seen common and bottle nose dolphins as well as minke whale and basking sharks in addition to the good array of birds including gannets, guillemots and shearwater. Look out for red throated divers, skua and white-tailed eagles as you approach Rum.
Arriving at Rum we headed off to the otter hide, a short walk from the ferry terminal. The walk passes through some lovely woodland and past a group of old ruined blackhouses. From the hide we saw oystercatchers, eider ducks, hooded crow, but unfortunately no otters today. Recent sightings on the wildlife board included great northern diver, red throated diver and hen harrier.
There are numerous walks on rum, though most are probably a little too long for the day visit. The North side trail is a good one which takes around an hour or you can head up to Kinloch Glen waterfall if you want a slightly longer walk. Today we just took a lazy saunter along the otter trail to the Community Hall watching out for wildlife along the coast. The Community Hall serves lunches in summer and has some interesting wildlife displays and local information. There is also a small shop and toilet facilities.
If you have time, a visit to Kinloch Castle is highly recommended. Guided tours run daily between April and October and are timed to fit in with the ferry sailings. The tour takes around 45 minutes and costs £9 per adult. The guide gives a really interesting and detailed commentary whilst escorting you around the Castle. Kinloch Castle was built for Sir George Bullough, a wealthy industrialist from Lancashire in 1897. A glorified hunting lodge and party venue and monument to Edwardian decadence. The castle and its contents were passed into the care of the nation in 1957 and has been hardly altered for over 100 years.
If you are lucky the guide might fire up The Orchestrion, one of only three of this model manufactured in Germany by Imhof & Mukle. Even if you are not treated to the delightful sounds of Monty Python from the '40 piece' orchestra you still have the chance of playing the Steinway grand piano in the galleried lounge. A rare treat and symbolic of how friendly and different this tour is.
A really great day out from Mingarry Lodges!