always something new to discover.
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White Rum - December 2010
Japanese Bridge (c) Georgina McMillanVillage Shop (c) Georgina McMillan

Not wishing to miss out on the delights of the serious snow the rest of the country has been enjoying (or not), Rum has had its own fair share. Thankfully there's always plenty of Rum spirit on hand to keep the cold at bay.

Near Village Hall (c) Georgina McMillan

Kinloch Castle Winter 2010/1 (c) Georgina McMillan






New Kinloch Castle Chef goes Wild - October 2010

Rachel Wild (c) Georgina McMillan

We welcome Rachel Wild to the island – the new Catering Manager at Kinloch Castle. Rachel was born and bred in Helensburgh and started working in restaurants from age 14. She has worked on super yachts cheffing and crewing and so has sailed all the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal, down to South east Asia, to New Zealand, across the Pacific and to the Caribbean. She went for a short holiday to South America and ended up staying for 9 years! Living mostly in Colombia where she taught English at a university and learnt to speak Spanish fluently. She was tired of the bustle of a big city and recently returned to Scotland to be a bit closer to family and also because she wanted more of a community lifestyle – which she has found on Rum. She also likes Rum for the outdoors, walking and cycling and of course the people. Welcome to Rum Rachel!

'A Rum do' - indeed - October 2010

Scotland outdoors magazine (Autumn issue. has published a nice article titled 'A Rum do', giving a general overview of goings on. A pdf can be downloaded - HERE

Flying by - October 2010

Isle of Rum Community Ranger Mike Werndly has noted some special bird sightings this Autumn that include: Hawfinch, Yellow Browed Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and a Crossbill too.

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Aurora Borealis - October 2010

While staying over at Guiridil bothy (11October 2010) on a trip to Rum, Paul Cairney from Bannockburn witnessed and photographed this fantastic aurora display.Aurora Borealis (c) Paul Cairney
Many thanks for sharing a wonderful experience Paul.
Aurora Borealis (c) Paul Cairney


Dibidil Bothy book reissued - September 2010 - 21/09/2010

The MBA has collaborated with the Executors of the Estate of Irvine Butterfield to re-publish “Dibidil- A Hebridean Adventure”. The book tells the story of one of the early MBA work parties- to restore the ruins of Dibidil cottage on the Isle of Rum for use as an open shelter.  The book was originally written in 1972 and published as a limited edition of 500 copies. It quickly sold out. If you are lucky enough to be able to get your hands on a copy it will likely sell for considerably more than the original cover price. It describes the story of the restoration project from its original conception in 1968 through the planning and organisation to the landings of material in near-gale force winds at Easter 1970 to the final successful work party of July 1970 accompanied by midges, clegs, and, inevitably for one of the wettest places in Britain, rain.  The book contains the original text and line drawings. It also includes some new, supplementary text including material by Irvine himself following a 1975 re-visit to the bothy. The black and white pictures in the 1972 version have been reproduced in colour from their original slides.  All profits from the sale of the re-published book will be donated to the Association and used to help our ongoing work in restoring and maintaining open shelters.

Dibidil- A Hebridean Adventure is available Roderick Manson at 33 Cedar Avenue, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, PH10 6TT at a cost of £8 including postage and packing.

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'Chainsaw' Dave makes the news - August 2010Dave 'Chainsaw' Beaton (c) The Scotsman

DAVE BEATON came to live on Rum five years ago and says he won’t leave - even when he dies. Formerly a supervisor slinger for cranes in Edinburgh, where he worked on the Traverse Theatre renovations, he was also a tree surgeon before moving to the island where he has earned the nickname Dave Chainsaw because of his skill at making sculptures using the unusual carving tool. Now contracted to Highland Council as the island’s pier master, he is due to get married next April to Sylvia Stirling whom he met while she was visiting Rum on an environmental studies trip. “Coming here was the best decision I ever made in my life,“ he says. The 26,000-acre island had a population peak of 440 in the late 18th century. It has been owned by Scottish Natural Heritage and its predecessor the Nature Conservancy Council since 1957. People living there were almost totally reliant on the conservation body, which owned every building except the primary school and every house apart from the teachers accommodation. But last year the 17 eligible voters among the island’s 29-strong population decided 15-2 for greater autonomy and a community trust took over land and assets around the village of Kinloch. Dave says: ”The whole atmosphere is beginning to improve after taking over from SNH and both parties are getting used to the idea of what’s going on.“
At the moment he lives in a caravan with no power and no phone line, with running water provided by the nearby river, although he plans to build a house in future.
”Island life suits me and I take things in my stride as I want to live here,“ he says. ”I like the pace of life and don’t miss the lifestyle of the city. "I’m not going anywhere now. I’ve already spoken to the minister to get a burial place sorted out. It sounds a bit morbid but there’s no way I’m going off the island now.“

© The Scotsman 31 August 2010

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Small Hall Band Fundraiser - August 2010Small Hall Band Logo

Thank you to the Small Hall Band who raised over £400 in donations for the Isle of Rum Community Trust with their ceilidh in the Village Hall. The music was great and a good time was had by all.

Small Isles Games Isle of Rum - June 2010Small Isles Games 2010 (c) Georgina McMillanSmall Isles Games 2010 (c) Georgina McMillan

The 2010 Small Isles Games were hosted by Rum on the 19th of June with a great turnout and great weather – sunshine with a strong breeze to keep the midges away! Lots of people took part and the overall winners were Muck, then Eigg and Rum in third. But a great show from the Rum team during the Tug of War – we won all ‘tugs’. Guests stayed in the castle or camped and the Rum Community Association orgainised a great dinner – venison stew and BBQ and soup. Delish! The catering was done by Ronnie and Chris Dunn all the way from Nethy Bridge. The visiting ceilidh band was The Mental Notes and played great dance tunes. And a big thanks to Ronnie and Angus from the Sheerwater for picking everyone up the next day.

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An Incredible Journey

Rum's birdman Sean Morris has passed on this amazing item. He ringed a Woodcock on Rum on 18 March 2010 that was subsequently shot on 15 April 2010 in Russia - a movement of 3045km (1892 miles) in 28 days. While used to the likes of Isle of Rum shearwater's travelling thousands of miles its quite something to hear of a humble Woodcock being so adventurous.

A map of the distance can be viewed Here.

'Rum deal on agency land concludes' - April 2010

BBC News - 06/04/2010

About 160 acres of land on Rum is now in community ownership. Houses and about 160 acres of land in Kinloch on Rum have been taken over by the islanders. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) has transferred assets it owned on the isle, worth an estimated £257,000, to a community trust. Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) said islanders had been working towards the transfer of land and property for 10 years. Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham has welcomed the move. Residents voted in favour of community ownership last January. Fliss Fraser, of IRCT, said: "This is a day the community of Rum has been hoping for and working towards for more than 10 years. "The land and property transfer now enables us to realise the plans which have been developed over many years and take decisions about how best to move our community and the island's economy forward. "We are now building a new relationship with SNH as a neighbour on the island, rather than our landlord." Ms Cunningham said the transfer was a "new dawn" for the isle.

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Handover Celebration - 31 March 2010Handover celebrations (c) Georgina McMillan

After many years of toil trying to secure some land for housing and local enterprises, the Rum community finally celebrate the handover of Kinloch Village to the Isle of Rum Community Trust. A barbeque was held at the village hall where we all made merry with venison steaks and champagne in teacups. A very good night was had by all.

Rum community celebrates new beginning

SNH Press Release - 06/04/2010

A new chapter in the history of the Isle of Rum begins today as the community takes ownership of land, housing and other assets in Kinloch village. The move comes after the agreed transfer of ownership of a significant area of land and property from Scottish Natural Heritage to the Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT). SNH and the Rum community have worked together through a process agreed with the Scottish Government to identify the most useful and appropriate division of land and property to enable the islanders to plan and manage their own future. That process has now culminated in the transfer of around 65 hectares of land into the ownership of the IRCT as an asset for its future development in the second phase of this historic event. A total of 35 hectares was provided in the first phase.

Fliss Fraser, the IRCT spokesperson, said: "This is a day the community of Rum has been hoping for and working towards for more than 10 years. The land and property transfer now enables us to realise the plans which have been developed over many years and take decisions about how best to move our community and the island's economy forward. We are now building a new relationship with SNH as a neighbour on the island, rather than our landlord. "Now we can work with SNH to ensure the fortunes of the community and the national nature reserve are promoted by a mutual interest in the future of Rum." Formerly growth of individual and community enterprises was limited by the exclusive ownership of land and property by SNH. This historic second phase of land transfer adds houses, tracks, woodland and infrastructure to the croft land, camp site and village amenities previously transferred. Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham has been closely involved in the transfer process and said: "I am delighted to be able to announce the start of a new dawn for the people of Rum and the island. This agreement allows all parties to create a sustainable future and I am particularly pleased for the community which now sees the fruition of more than 10 years of campaigning and hard work."

SNH will continue to have a significant presence as an employer and landowner of the Isle of Rum National Nature Reserve covering most of the island and the visitor attraction of Kinloch castle. SNH Chairman Andrew Thin said: "SNH is committed to assisting the Rum Community Trust realise its aspirations to establish a viable and sustainable future through economic activities based on the island's agricultural potential, built facilities and natural assets. The transfer of a portion of these to the people of the island enables that future to begin. "SNH now looks forward to working in partnership with the islanders to help them develop a strong and successful community which will deliver benefits for Scotland through improved visitor services and infrastructure. Meanwhile SNH will continue its stewardship of the Rum National Nature Reserve on behalf of the people of Scotland."

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New Pier master -  Early Spring 2010Dave Beaton Rum Piermaster (c) Georgina McMillan

Dave Beaton is the New Pier master for the Isle of Rum. Dave has taken over this important Highland Council position and will be meeting all the ferries coming to Rum.

Website Visits - March 2010

On the 6 February Google Analytics (sophisticated web counter) was added to the site to track visits. To 7 March we have had 2,215 separate visits from an amazing 53 countries. UK being the highest number of visitors, followed by USA, Germany, Netherlands (but who stayed twice as long), France, Canada and Australia, etc.
Comments are always welcome about the site and what you would like to see.

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'It's a bit Tattie, but first ever house sale boosts Rum population by two' - February 2010

The Scotsman - 23/02/2010

THE first house to go up for sale on the remote Isle of Rum has been sold as a step towards increasing the local population. In a landmark move, islanders are also due to take ownership of a dozen houses and other properties by the end of next month – after what was Scotland's smallest community buyout. Dilapidated Tattie House was put on the market last year at offers over 40,000 and its sale was crucial to the future of an island with just 39 people, nearly all of whom work for the isle's main owner, Scottish Natural Heritage. It has been bought by Ian and Kate Bolas from Wales, who plan to renovate it and move in "in about two to three years". "The sale of Tattie House is a significant start. We do not envisage any more property being sold in the foreseeable future – but a number of building plots could be," said trust director Sean Morris. "The trust will take over and rent the existing homes. People will be independent of SNH and have security of staying in their own homes for the first time. "There has already been a number of people who have expressed an interest in the building plots. We are trying to build a sustainable future here." Until recently, everything on the Hebridean island, known, along with Canna, Muck and Eigg, as one of the Small Isles, was the property of SNH. The island, one of Scotland's nature reserves, is home to the sea eagle, red deer and otters, among other wildlife. But last year, ownership of the village, including the Tattie House, and some land on the island, which will be rented out as crofts, was transferred to the Isle of Rum Community Trust. The trust is trying to establish a community on Rum, where, until recently, the only way to live there was to work for SNH. A second-phase transfer of land and assets next month will see the community taking ownership of almost the entire village and infrastructure. The money raised from selling Tattie House will go towards a new shop and caf, providing a focal point for village life. Tattie House was originally two cottages occupied by farmhands, but has lain abandoned for decades. Situated on the north side of Kinloch Village, it enjoys views overlooking Loch Scresort. Residents voted in January last year in favour of taking community ownership of buildings and land on the island. The ballot of the 17 adult islanders passed the asset transfer by 15 votes to two. The move was part of the Scottish Government's plan to transfer 257,000 worth of assets to the community from SNH.

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New Battery Inverter Shed - Spring 2010New battery inverter shed for the Rum hydro scheme (c) Georgina McMillan

Early Spring 2010 saw the Battery Inverter Shed completed by GG MacKenzies for the SNH power scheme on Rum. The next stage will be to install the electrical wizardry. This will help to give the village increased power capacity and reliability.


Kinloch Castle Winter Repairs - 2009/2010Kinloch Castles Repairs in Progress (c) Georgina McMillan

Kinloch Castle has had some repair work done this winter. Two oriel windows on the west wing were overhauled and the tower was fitted with a new water tank. This work was funded by SNH.

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Rum website a hit - December 2009

The Isle of Rum Community website had a total of 97,427 page hits for the year 2009. This equates approximately to 24,000 visitors if visiting via the welcome page. With the best month being July, having 10,386 page hits.
Thanks to all.

Rum SNH Reserve Staff - December 2009December 09 SNH Rum Reserve Staff (c) Georgina McMillan

Reserve staff photographed down by Harris while out looking after the Highland Cow's, Dec 2009. Left  to right: Marcel /Deer Management, Sean /Estate worker, Lesley /Reserve Officer, Neil / Ghillie, Richard /Reserve Manager

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Rum Flickr group

A Flickr group has started showcasing images of the island: Here . Many excellent images. If you have a link to a Rum gallery, email the Isle of Rum Community Trust to have your link added to this website.

New Community Ranger – April 2009

The Isle of Rum Community Trust has employed a Ranger, Mike Werndly. Funding for this post came from LEADER, Scottish Natural Heritage, The Highland Council and the community trust itself. The post is for 3 years and the community trust hope to source more funding and extend the post after this time. Mike will be concentrating on visitor facilities and information in the village and is currently sprucing up the exisiting 'visitor centre' by the Old Pier. He'll also be offering a programme of guided walks and talks. Welcome Mike!




Autumnwatch - October 2009

BBC Autumnwatch is back on the island covering the Red deer rut, principally down at Kilmory. Exciting action between the rutting deer, including unusually a fatality with one of the stags.

More information and film clip (with rather over dramatic language) on the fatality can be found 'Here', it also has an input from Rum's resident wildlife expert Sean Morris.
The main Autumnwatch page can be found 'Here'.

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'Age toll taken on wild red deer' - August 2009

BBC News - 17/08/2009
The study assessed the lives of wild red deer on the Isle of Rum. A study of wild red deer on the Isle of Rum has found their ageing process can be dramatic and sudden.

Scientists at Edinburgh University studied a thousand of the animals, immortalised in Sir Edwin Landseer's portrait Monarch of the Glen. They discovered that while males showed the first signs of ageing later than females, when it did catch up their decline could be much faster. The research looked at the ability of the animals to reproduce as they aged. Data taken from the past 40 years showed that after about the age of 10, stags quickly became less likely to father calves. However, hinds, who showed signs of ageing from about nine years old, could go on calving into their late teens. Researchers also found that the signs of ageing in wild deer could be deceptively complex.

'Big differences'
Older stags appeared able to maintain their antlers well into old age, but despite this they had little success during the autumn rut and fathered very few calves. Similarly, females which were past their prime were likely to continue breeding, but their offspring tended to be smaller and less likely to survive compared with calves born to younger females. Dr Dan Nussey, from the University of Edinburgh's school of biological sciences, who led the study, said: "Recent research suggests that wild animals show signs of deterioration in old age, just like animals in captivity and humans, but this is the first study to look in detail at the impact of ageing on breeding in wild mammals. "We were surprised at how complex the picture was: not only are there big differences between males and females, but the signs of ageing emerge at different times. "More work is required to understand what is driving these differences. It all shows just how complex the ageing process is." Kristin Scott, West Highland area manager for Scottish Natural Heritage, welcomed the study. She said: "The researchers have used this well known population on Rum where the stags and hinds live out their lives in the relatively unspoilt and undisturbed landscape of this spectacular island national nature reserve." The study by scientists from Edinburgh and Cambridge, was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), supported by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and is published in the American Naturalist.

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'Isle of Rum' Govt Press Release - January 2009

Scottish Government Press Release - 15/01/2009

Islanders on Rum have voted in a local ballot for the phased transfer of the island's assets to community control. Environment Minister Michael Russell said: "This is an historic day for the Isle of Rum - the day residents took control of their community's destiny. This will provide a platform for the future development of a successful and sustainable community on Rum through development of improved facilities for visitors, and for generating revenue earning businesses on the island. "The first phase of the transfer is a key step in the establishment of an independent community and economy for the island and I am confident that everything will be in place to allow the initial transfer of property to take place before the end of February. "Much has been achieved in the last year by the Rum Task Group which I established, the Community Trust and Scottish Natural Heritage. But there is much still to be done to conclude the final arrangements and to build towards the transfer of other assets to community management in the future."

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'Islanders vote to become kings of their own castles' - January 2009

The Scotsman - 14/01/2009

David Frew is dependent on his employer for both his home and castle. Over the past two and a half years, he has managed Kinloch Castle on the island of Rum for Scottish Natural Heritage, which also owns his tied house. It is the same situation for nearly all his neighbours, whose ability to live on the island has depended on the government agency providing a job and accommodation. In a few weeks, however, the social make-up of Rum will change. After filing into a makeshift polling station in the castle yesterday, the 17 eligible voters among the island's 29-strong population decided 15-2 for greater autonomy and to become landowners. Mr Frew and three other SNH employees – an administrator, estate worker and reserve officer – are directors of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, which will take over land and assets around the village of Kinloch. The move loosens the agency's grip on Rum, which has been owned by SNH and its predecessor, the Nature Conservancy Council, since 1957. People living there have been almost totally reliant on the conservation quango, with SNH owning every building except the primary school and every house apart from the teacher's accommodation. Under the transfer, the Isle of Rum Community Trust will take more than 370 acres of land around Kinloch in two phases, leaving SNH to manage the rest of the 26,000-acre island. The trust plans to create five new crofts, new housing and holiday chalets.

Mr Frew said: "The biggest difference is that it allows Rum to develop as a proper community. It will give people the opportunity to be secure in their homes outwith SNH employment. "It will allow us to develop independently of SNH, which has been impossible in the past. "In future, the community essentially will be given the chance to develop into a balanced, normal community – exciting times."

Yesterday's vote follows a summit in December 2007, when Michael Russell, the environment minister, announced the setting-up of a task force intended to help the island become self-sustaining. Ian Leaver, the island's development officer, welcomed the move: "Previously, if you didn't have an SNH job, you had to leave the island as you had no house. This gives people a future." Andrew Thin, the SNH chairman, said last night he was delighted by the "historic" move. He said it would enable economic and social diversity and independence on the island. Rum, the largest of the group known as the Small Isles, including Eigg, Muck and Canna, had a population of more than 400 in the early 19th century. But the then owner, the chief of the Macleans of Coll, helped the entire community to emigrate to Canada. The island was later owned by a Lancaster businessman, John Bullough, who spelled its name Rhum. His son, George, built Kinloch Castle. Rum passed to trustees and was sold to the Nature Conservancy Council in 1957.  How it works:

  • What were the people of Rum voting for? They were voting on a proposal to transfer assets in the village of Kinloch from Rum's owners, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), to the community.
  • Will any money change hands in the deal? No. It is not a community buyout as in other islands, like Eigg and Gigha. Land and buildings owned by SNH, worth an estimated 250,000, are being given over to the community to run.
  • What assets are being taken over? In phase one, the transfer will involve the community hall, village shop and tearoom, campsite and land for at least three crofts, house plots and other development, by the end of February. Phase two, in about a year, will see more land for crofts and houses put into community ownership.
  • So who will be the new owner of these assets? The Isle of Rum Community Trust. It has four island-based directors, while all 17 people on the electoral roll for the island are eligible to be members. There are also four non-island directors.
  • Does the trust now own the entire island? No. It will control about 370 acres of land in and around Kinloch. SNH will manage the rest of Rum as a nature reserve.
  • Is Kinloch Castle part of the takeover? No.
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Rum Community Takeover Vote – January 2009

Community ownership of Kinloch Village took another step forward on Wednesday 14th January with a 15 to 2 vote in favour of the transfer of land from SNH to Isle of Rum Community Trust.

 Radio clip 14 January 2009: Here

Rum Task Group Update - December 2008


1. Rum has been owned and managed by the Government conservation agencies since 1957. It passed from the Nature Conservancy Council to SNH in 1992.

2. The Rum Summit, convened by Michael Russell on December 3 2007, brought the island's community and the key Government agencies together to discuss the economic, social and environmental potential of the island with the principal objective of developing a joint approach to realising the full benefit of the isle's resources.

3 The summit led to the formation of a Task Group which aimed to identify and facilitate actions in support of the development of a dynamic community on Rum which is not solely dependent on SNH. The Task Group reported to the Minister on progress in June. Today's meeting will hear progress reports from the Task Group.

4. Achievements on the island over the past year include: Investment of £500,000 by SNH to improve the water supply and initiate a feasibility study to improve the electricity supply; these are essential pre-requisites for further development on the island. Formal establishment of the Isle of Rum Community Trust as the future custodian of community interests on the island. Recruitment of a development manager to work with the community and Task Group partners to take forward planning for community development on Rum. Endorsement for the Village Development Plan. Creation of three crofts in Kinloch Village with the potential for creating a further two. Devising a clear plan of the future housing needs of the community encompassing the self-build of 20 house plots, potential renovation projects and affordable housing.

5. The land and property identified for the first phase of the transfer by February 2009 is: the community hall, village shop and tea room site, campsite, boathouse, potential hostel development site, land for the construction of holiday accommodation, the designated croft land and other miscellaneous land not proposed for agricultural use.

6. The community are to be balloted on the proposal that the whole package of assets is transferred to the Trust in a phased manner. The ballot is expected to take place in January 2009.

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'Rum Community on Course to choose their own future' - December 2008

© GK/JM - - Industry News

The New Year may at last bring community ownership to the Isle of Rum, Environment Minister Michael Russell announced today.

Mr Russell announced that the Scottish Government was ready to transfer land and assets worth around £250,000 to the community from Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) along with responsibility for the development of these assets.

The transfer of the community hall, village shop and tearoom, campsite and surrounding land will take place after February 2009 providing there is a positive vote from the community. The ballot will be held in early January and the transfer will allow the trust to develop visitor accommodation and designate land for crofting.

Speaking during a meeting of the Isle of Rum Task Group in Arisaig, Mr Russell said:
"In June this year, I announced that the principle of a transfer of land and assets to the Isle of Rum Community Trust had been agreed.
"I am delighted today to announce further progress towards realising the goal of establishing a viable community with a thriving local economy.
"The planned transfer of land and property in Kinloch Village and Glen will provide a platform for development of a thriving and sustainable community. It will create opportunities for local enterprise while improving the facilities and services available to visitors to the island.
"I should like to take this opportunity to commend the Task Group and the Trust for the progress that they have made over this past year.
"The support and commitment of SNH has been significant in helping to move the process forward, as has Lesley Riddoch's contribution as Chair of the Task Group. I am pleased that she has agreed to continue to support the community as we more towards the first phase of land and property transfer.
"Much has been achieved in the last year, but there is much still to be done to conclude the final arrangements and to build towards the transfer of other assets to community management in the future."

Andrew Thin, Chairman of SNH said:
"I am delighted we have got to the stage where we are almost ready to transfer land to the Community Trust. So many people have put in so much time and effort into this process and I believe we have the right solution at the right time.
"This is a key step in the establishment of an independent community and economy for the island and we look forward to working closely with the Trust on its future plans.
"This will also allow SNH to get on with the business of managing the island's outstanding natural heritage and working with the community to enhance the visitor experience."

© GK/JM - - Industry News

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Rum Bird Report  - December 2008

Sean Morris, the islands regular bird expert, ringer and recorder has published the 2008 bird report. Viewable as a pdf file: Here
The report is facinating in showing the diverse range of birds that have and can been seen on the island.

'Fresh claims over botanist 'fake' '- October 2008

BBC News 02/10/2008

It is alleged that Heslop-Harrison planted the finds on Rum himselfFresh claims have been made that a distinguished botanist faked plant discoveries in Scotland 60 years ago. Newcastle University Professor John Heslop-Harrison discovered rare species on the Isle of Rum. These supported his theory that the Ice Age did not reach islands off the west coast of Scotland. The author Karl Sabbagh claims to have seen documents where contemporaries of Heslop-Harrison suggest that he might have planted the finds himself. Sabbagh wrote "A Rum Affair: A True Story Of Botanical Fraud", which highlighted controversy over Heslop-Harrison's research. The 1999 book has itself drawn criticism from some botanists. But Sabbagh claims to have gained access to previously unseen documents that confirm Heslop-Harrison's contemporaries suspected foul play. The reports by two fellow botanists were uncovered by Sabbagh in the archive at the Natural History Museum following a tip-off from a friend. Botanist RB Cooke is said to have written of a 1943 expedition to the Isle of Rum: "I saw a dozen or more plants which in my opinion had been recently planted. "There were to be seen marks which suggested a stone having been used to press in the soil round the roots." Sabbagh said the archived documents seemed to lend weight to his original work. "When I did my research, they weren't around and I rather wish they had been," he said. "It's quite satisfying years later to come out and see two distinguished botanists both had been worrying about this and clearly believed that he was faking things." Heslop-Harrison was a professor of botany at Newcastle University. He died in 1967 aged 86.

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'This Jewelled Isle' - Readers Digest article - August 2008

Readers Digest recently published an article about the island and its community. A .pdf file 742kb (requires Acrobat reader) of the article can be downloaded 'Here'
Article copyright Readers Digest. Images © Murdo Macleod / Readers Digest.

SNH Magazine - Rum Article - Summer 2008

The Summer edition of the Scottish Natural Heritage magazine (The Nature of Scotland) has an article by Lesley Riddoch, Isle of Rum task force chairperson, journalist and broadcaster. Lesley outlines the background to the Task Force being set up and the work they're undertaking.
Its well worth reading and can be found (Here) as a .pdf download. Or if you wish a paper version phone SNH Publications.
For Lesley Riddoch's particular take on island life, the good, the bad and the plain silly, her recent book 'Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides' is a very entertaining and illuminating read. Published by Luath Press.

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Rum Task Group Update - June 2008

'New vision for Rum' - Scottish Government Press Release - 06/06/2008

A new vision for a thriving community on Rum owned by its inhabitants has been outlined today by Environment Minister Michael Russell. Mr Russell has given the green light to the Isle of Rum Community Trust to conclude with Scottish Natural Heritage, an agreement on about how land and property in Kinloch Village and Glen could be developed in the future, in the ownership of the community. He also announced that crofting is set to take place on the island for the first time.
As part of a meeting with the Rum Task Group, Mr Russell said:
"The Scottish Government is committed to the sustainable economic development of this truly unique island.

"In December I convened the Rum Summit, which led to the formation of the Task Group which is meeting jointly with the Rum Steering Group today.

"Today marks a significant step in the ongoing work that has been carried out.

"I want to see a process put in place to enable the local community to own and manage land and property in Kinloch Village and Glen, and to develop a thriving local community with a sustainable economy.

"Of course, during that process - which I want concluded as soon as practical - there are a number of issues which need to be resolved. The will is there to resolve them and the Government will ensure that happens.

"The Trust and Task Group partners will now explore the means by which this can,all take place with the end result being clear benefits for the islanders, the island and for the local economy, including increased tourism.

"An element of this is the agreement already in place that up to five crofts will be created to help bring some more people to live on the island.

"Crofting has been enormously successful in other parts of Scotland and I see no reason why it cannot flourish in this attractive setting. The sale of a few house plots needs also to be considered.

"Much has been achieved in the last six months, which is an enormous credit to the Task Group and the community. I want to see the interested parties continuing to work together to achieve a truly prosperous Rum.

"I will ensure that the Scottish Government is fully engaged in the task and the full summit will re-convene in December to ensure continued urgent progress."

Rum has been owned and managed by the Government conservation agencies since 1957. It passed from the Nature Conservancy Council to SNH in 1992.

The Rum Summit, convened by the Michael Russell on December 3, 2007, brought the island's community and the key Government agencies together to discuss the economic, social and environmental potential of the island with the principal objective of developing a joint approach to realising the full benefit of the isle's resources.

The summit agreed - and the Minister endorsed the proposal - that a Task Group should be formed to identify and facilitate actions in support of the development of a dynamic community on Rum which is not solely dependent on SNH. The purpose of the meeting on the Isle of Rum on 6 June is for the Rum Task Group to report to the Minister on the progress it is making on achieving its remit.

Achievements of the Task Group during the last six months include:
* Investment of £500,000 by SNH to improve the water supply and initiation of a feasibility study to improve the electricity supply. These are essential pre-requisites for further development on the island
* Formal establishment of the Isle of Rum Community Trust as the future custodian of community interests on the island
* Recruitment of a development manager to work with the community and Task Group partners to take forward planning for community development on Rum
* The Village Development Plan has been endorsed by the local community as providing the basis for planning future developments
* SNH and the community have submitted an application to the Crofters' Commission for designation of 50 hectares of croft land to support up to five crofts on the island
* SNH in consultation with the community have identified the potential extent of property which could in due course be transferred to the community

The Isle of Rum Community Trust (IRCT) will lead on the development of a crofting allocations policy over the coming months which will include decisions on whether there should be a phased approach to the release of crofts and over what timescale. Other key considerations for the Crofters' Commission and the Community Trust include the building of croft houses, SNH stock grazing management requirement, and support for the development of croft management plans and funding applications.

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Regeneration of Kinloch Castle - March 2008

The Herald Scotland - 31/03/2008

Further to your news article last week about Kinloch Castle, I would like to update you on the current situation. The Prince's Regeneration Trust is working with Scottish Natural Heritage, Historic Scotland and other organisations and individuals to establish a secure future for Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum. Options are being explored to establish the most cost-effective way to save the historic building, allow generous public access and create accommodation for families, students and other visitors to the island, which is a national nature reserve.

All the partners to the project have known for some considerable time that the basic repair costs are well in excess of £6m. Parts of the building are in a rapidly decaying state and major and urgent works are required or it will be lost. In addition, alterations are necessary to allow public access and create overnight accommodation to an acceptable standard for more than 60 visitors. Extensive discussions have been carried out with Historic Scotland and Highland Council to ensure that proposed alterations are practical, cost-effective, sympathetic to the historic building and will comply with local authority requirements. The total funding requirement of the currently favoured option is circa £9.9m. There is huge public interest in providing a viable and sustainable future for the castle, and also for delivering significant social and economic benefits to the Island of Rum. The alternative of decline into dereliction must not be contemplated.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, The Prince's Regeneration Trust, London.

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Rum Task Group Update - March 2008

As a result of several years hard work - The first meeting of the Isle of Rum community Trust took place on Thursday 20th March. Well attended by local members and directors from the highland council and SNH, the community company set out its aims and objectives for the coming year - this included the appointment of Ian Lever as the trust's development officer. Ian's tasks will be to take forward a number of community initiatives and assist with the issues created by the proposed land transfer from SNH to the community Trust.
Company directors are Fliss Hough (acting chair), David Frew, Sean Morris and Lesley Watt. HC director is local councillor Allan Henderson, who commented at the meeting on the motivation and commitment of the community. SNH's director is Sheila Nairn.
Maggie Fyffe, from Eigg, has also been appointed as a director for the help and support she will be able to give during our first year or so.

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Rum Task Group - February 2008

Scottish Government Press Release - 06/02/2008

Minister for Environment, Michael Russell, has appointed Lesley Riddoch as Chair of the Rum Task Group.
Ms Riddoch will lead this short-life advisory body in identifying and facilitating actions which support the aim of developing a dynamic community on the Isle of Rum.

Mr Russell said: "Rum is truly unique in its geology and nature conservation interest and has tremendous potential for sympathetic development.

"The Rum Task Group will focus on generating proposals for advancing community development opportunities on the island. In Lesley Riddoch, they have a chair who will be able to make things happen. "I look forward to hearing more about their work over the coming months."

Ms Riddoch will be supported by Fliss Hough and Maggie Fyffe, community representatives from Rum and Eigg respectively, as members of the Task Group. Representatives from Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council, Communities Scotland, Crofters Commission and Lochaber Housing Association will be involved in the Group's work.  The Task Group has been asked to deliver its remit by December 31, 2008, and to provide progress reports to Mr Russell at the end of May and end of November this year. One of the Group's first tasks will be to agree a job description, management structure and funding package for a development worker to support the process over the next 12 months. An advertisement for this post is expected to be published shortly.

Lesley Riddoch is a Sony award winning broadcaster and Director of Feisty Ltd - a Dundee based radio, podcast & TV production company. She presents a weekly current affairs programme Riddoch Questions for BBC Scotland and has just published her first book, Riddoch; On the Outer Hebrides, and was a founding member of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust. She is a topical newspaper commentator - regular columns in the Guardian and Scotsman won her a place on the 2006 shortlist of the Orwell Prize for Political Writing. She was appointed as a member of the Scottish Government's Prisons Commission in October 2007 by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill. The appointment is not remunerated. Ms Riddoch holds no other Ministerial appointments.

Ms Riddoch will receive remuneration on standard terms applicable to ministerial appointments to advisory bodies. This will be set at £200 per day and will be based on providing 48 days input over 12 months of the Task group's remit.  The Rum Summit, convened by the Minister for Environment, Michael Russell on Monday, December 3, 2007, brought the island's community and the key Government agencies together to discuss the economic, social and environmental potential of the island with the principal objective of developing a joint approach to realising the full benefit of the Isle's resources.

The meeting drew on the experience of community representatives from Rum and Eigg, senior staff from Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Highland Council, Historic Scotland, the Prince's Regeneration Trust and the Scottish Government. The event was facilitated by Lesley Riddoch. The summit considered the full range of issues impacting on the future of the isle and its community including the examination of a shift towards community control.

The summit agreed - and the Minister endorsed the proposal - that a Task Group should be formed to identify and facilitate actions in support of the development of a dynamic community on Rum which is not solely dependent on SNH. The Task Group's first meeting was in Fort William (Tuesday February 5)

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'New vision for Rum' - December 2007

Scottish Governmenet Press Release - 03/12/2007

The economic, social and environment potential of the Isle of Rum was put under the spotlight today at a meeting aimed at developing a joint approach to realising the full benefit of the Isle's resources.Minister for Environment Michael Russell led the "Rum Summit" at Morar, near Mallaig, which was facilitated by journalist and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch.The meeting involved community representatives from Rum and the other Small Isles and senior staff from Scottish Natural Heritage, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, The Highland Council, Historic Scotland and the Scottish Government.Mr Russell said:"Rum has tremendous potential. It is unique in its geology and nature conservation interest and has untapped potential for sympathetic economic development, especially around tourism and land management."The summit considered the full range of issues impacting on the future of the island and its community and I felt strongly that we should aim high."I want to see the various public bodies involved coming together to support community-led developments, including the examination of a shift towards community control."We have set up a small taskforce chaired by Lesley Riddoch to push this forward and a larger group will meet again in June on Rum."This is the start of a process for building a shared vision for the future of the island. It will continue throughout the coming year."All interested parties will have a chance to comment on future management of the island through SNH's consultation on the revision of the Rum National Nature Reserve Management Plan which is currently underway.Rum has been owned and managed by Government conservation agencies since 1957. It passed from the Nature Conservancy Council to SNH in 1992. Rum was designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR) in 1957. In 1982 it was designated as a Special Protection Area for birds. It was re-notified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1987 and is now also a Special Area for Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive.SNH has 16 staff on Rum plus seasonal stalkers, ghillies, contractors etc. The current population of Rum is 28 people. The primary school has three pupils.

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Isle of Rum 2007 Music Festival - May 2007

Everything went well, the sun even came out which wasn't forecast, the bands were all great, especially Daimh and Bombskare -who excelled even their lively selves this year. The solar cinema was popular as were the workshops also revolving around a renewable energy theme. The BFG was back and Henry Fosbrooke's woodland orchestra simply didn't stop playing... you could hear them drums 24 hours a day... Organisation was better this year, in that nobody was running around like a blue arsed fly, at least not all the time. We had Stuart Thomson from Eigg running the bar - strange to get someone from Eigg to stay sober enough to run a bar but Stuart was exemplary, did a great job. We managed to get the site down and sorted by the end of Monday, despite a bit of rain. Calmac completely messed up the boat bookings on the Monday in that they completely overbooked the boat and then decided to let the first 190 odd on without checking tickets. Needless to say, the boat was full with a lot of angry festival goers, who had booked months in advance arguing with the crew on the slip. However, the boat crew proved themselves more professional than the Calmac booking office and offered to come back to pick up the rest of the folk later, which they did. Full marks lads. Report by Fliss Hough

We got a 5* review in the Scotsman - Here

Pictures of the festival can now be found Here on Louis deCarlo's website Rum Music Festival 2007 (c) Louis deCarloRum Music Festival 2007 (c) Louis deCarlo

For those wishing to enter the very low tech world of YouTube excerpts of the festival can be viewed Here, a visual and audio assault - you have been warned.


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'Fancy living like king of the castle?' - July 2005

The Scotsman - 10/07/2005

It was once known as the royal brothel, a playground for the rich and privileged amid some of Scotland's finest scenery. But now the 105-year-old Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum is set to be turned into holiday homes for those who aspire to join the landed gentry as part of a 6m plan to rescue it from chronic neglect. The castle narrowly failed to win cash from BBC TV's Restoration competition in 2003, leading to fears that the building might decay completely. But Scottish Natural Heritage will tomorrow unveil its proposals to restore the castle, which was built in 1900 by a wealthy English industrialist. It became a notorious playground for London society - including King Edward VII, who was dubbed "the playboy prince". It was claimed at the time that if King Edward, who frequently visited the castle both as Prince of Wales and as King, arrived there without female company, a companion would be provided for him, hence its nickname: "the royal brothel". The report, prepared for SNH by the current Prince of Wales' Phoenix Trust, will recommend three options for the restoration of the property, which is suffering serious damp problems and which costs 65,000 a year in running repairs.

The favoured option is thought to be converting the building into holiday apartments and a museum while allowing areas such as the ballroom to be hired out, and offering tours of some areas. Another option would see it remain partly as a hostel and partly as a museum. A third choice would see almost the entire building turned into holiday homes with one part used as a museum. Following tomorrow's announcement, SNH will begin detailed studies of the options. The programme needs to raise 6m for the repairs. As much as 1m could come from the public purse, with the rest coming from trusts and private developers who would make money from renting apartments created by the rebuild. In 2003, the castle featured on the BBC2 Restoration series, where it came runner-up in a phone poll in which viewers voted on which building should receive more than 3m for conservation works. The plight of the castle attracted the Prince of Wales' interest and he chaired a meeting of conservation chiefs at Balmoral early in 2004. That led to the Phoenix Trust bringing together a team of specialists who were commissioned by SNH to produce the report. It is hoped that a rescue package would transform the castle from an expensive ruin into a money-spinner for the island, with clients able to hire out the ballrooms and dining suites.

The plan has been welcomed by Douglas King, honorary secretary of the Kinloch Castle Friends Association. He said: "We have become increasingly concerned about the deteriorating state of the castle. The roof needs replacing, and although most of the public areas look fine, there are parts of the castle which are in a very bad state. This could be the last chance for the castle. Properly developed, it has enormous potential to boost tourism and employment on the island."

David Maclennan, the north of Scotland area manager for SNH, said: "It's encouraging to see real progress in finding a long-term sustainable solution to Kinloch Castle's restoration. The castle has a key role to play in the island's future. It is a major visitor attraction."

Fliss Hough, of Rum Community Association, said: "This would enhance the island for the community and visitors alike and could lead to a range of further opportunities."

Jill Channer, director of the Phoenix Trust, said: "We are convinced the time has come to find the sustainable future for the castle that everyone wants."

Sir George Bullough, the son of a Lancashire industrial tycoon, commissioned the castle in 1897 and it was completed three years later at a cost of 250,000 - equivalent to 15m today. Bullough paid 300 workmen an extra shilling a day to wear kilts during the construction. Smokers received another 2d a day as tobacco kept the midges at bay. Kinloch then became a "must-see" destination for London socialites who went there for glittering parties at which they could hunt by day and dance by night. Bullough brought alligators and giant turtles to the island, where they lived in heated glasshouses. The alligators had to be shot as they kept escaping. But since the 1950s, when it was sold off by the Bulloughs, the castle has deteriorated and the Edwardian decor and priceless artworks risk being destroyed by creeping damp.

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'Prince throws weight behind £6m restoration of crumbling castle' - August 2004

The Scotsman - 16/08/2004

Prince Charles says he is "concerned" that one of Scotland’s remotest and most remarkable castles - once the pleasure palace of a couple whose affairs rocked Edwardian society - has been officially listed as in danger again. The prince is spearheading moves to save Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum which needs at least 6 million spent on it - and is now costing taxpayers 1,250-a-week just to maintain even in its deteriorating state. But the castle has now been listed in the new Buildings at Risk Register for 2004-5. The register is maintained by the Scottish Civic Trust on behalf of Historic Scotland. George Bullough and his wife Lady Monica turned Kinloch into a centre for extravagance and partying. Prince Charles, who has never visited Rum, became personally involved in saving the castle after watching the BBC 2 Restoration Programme last year, which featured the plight of the building. Representatives of the Prince’s Phoenix and Landmark trusts visited the island before Christmas and have drawn up a blueprint to restore the 107-year-old castle. It narrowly missed out on winning the 3 million-plus prize on the television programme. Following that programme Prince Charles summoned interested parties - including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland - to a meeting at his Scottish retreat at Birkhall. He has since studied his consultants’ report and made recommendations to get the castle restored. But no cash has yet been found to carry out the repairs. Being named on the latest ‘at risk’ register has again highlighted the urgency of the situation. "The prince is concerned that the building is still at risk and hopes that it will be saved and restored as soon as possible," said a spokeswoman for Clarence House this week.

'Charles gives his backing to castle restoration campaign' - December 2003

The Telegraph - By Tom Peterkin

Prince Charles has stepped in to help an attempt to restore one of the most remote and remarkable castles in Scotland. The Prince has held talks at his Scottish retreat at Birkhall with a view to saving Kinloch Castle on the Isle of Rum.The castle, which was built in 1897 and was the venue for extravagant parties during its heyday, was recently featured on the BBC's Restoration programme. It narrowly missed out on winning the show's £3 million prize despite polling 110,000 viewer votes.The Prince's Phoenix Trust - along with the Landmark Trust - has drawn up a blueprint to restore the 106-year-old castle. After the programme, the Prince summoned interested parties including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Historic Scotland to the Birkhall meeting. "The prince is passionate about this building and helping to try to restore it," said a Clarence House spokesman.

Next month the organisations will report back to the Prince and announce their proposals for the castle. They will then ask the lottery for a large percentage of the cash needed.  The spokesman added that the Prince was "not trying to impose his views" but to help find a solution - but that solution must involve the local community and have "a mixed use". "Kinloch has captured the Prince's imagination. He sees it as an important historic asset." The castle, owned and managed by Scottish Natural Heritage, has fallen into disrepair and is costing taxpayers about £40,000 a year to prevent further damage. The artefacts inside, which have not been disturbed for 50 years, are thought to be worth about £1 million alone. About £10,000 a year is needed just to pay for the diesel to power the castle's generators so that the artefacts are preserved at the correct temperature.

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'Rum health diet drives deer to snack on chicks' - August 2003

The Scotsman - 10/08/2003

This is one side of Bambi the Disney corporation never wanted you to see. Red deer on a Scottish island are supplementing their normally vegetarian diet by snacking on live seabird chicks. Horrified bird watchers on the Isle of Rum have discovered the tiny headless and legless corpses of Manx Shearwater chicks who have fallen prey to carnivorous deer. Scientists believe the normally docile beasts are eating the baby birds to make up for deficiencies in their diet on Rum, or even using them as a form of medicine. Rum, a national nature reserve owned and run by Scottish Natural Heritage is the main breeding colony for Manx shearwater, with an estimated 100,000 pairs or a fifth to a third of the world population. Reserve manager Mick Blunt said: "You see plenty of Manx shearwater corpses without their heads. I am planning to carry out a bit of research through our archives to see when this phenomenon was first spotted. "Perhaps the deer need calcium for antler growth, or possibly they are after other trace elements. There have been umpteen reports of the meat-eating deer. "National Geographic apparently are planning a visit later this year with infra-red cameras to see if they can film the deer attacking the shearwater. "But despite so many threats to the shearwater, the colony seems to be thriving and they don’t appear to be in any danger.

There can be 200,000 birds on the hillside, so if 1% to 2% were killed it would have little impact." Nick Reiter, director of the Deer Commission for Scotland, said they had received reports of meat-eating deer on Rum but had not yet researched it. He said: "Why they do it is a matter of speculation and I can’t imagine it is a regular thing. However, red deer will eat shed antlers. Maybe these birds just taste nice, and after a hard day on the heather and grass the deer are saying, ‘I could murder a shearwater.’" When not under threat from deer and other predators on Rum, the shearwater spends the winter bobbing in the sea off Brazil.

Glasgow University’s Dr Bob Furness, who has written about sheep eating live tern and skua chicks on Foula, Shetland, agrees the Rum deer are alleviating a mineral deficiency in their diet. Calcium levels in the vegetation are low on Rum, he said, and bird killing could happen in both mineral-deficient areas with high densities of ground-nesting seabirds. "I’m happy the likely reason is mineral deficiency. Experiments in Australia showed that cattle made mineral deficient went seeking bones, even taking plaster of Paris made up with stewed bone extract." Also Furness knew of old accounts of red deer taking grouse chicks on a Scottish grouse moor in the 19th Century. The shearwater chicks are at their most vulnerable this month when they are just emerging from the burrows dug for them by their parents in the crumbly volcanic soil near the summit of the Rum Cuillin. They face a host of predators, including sea eagles, golden eagles, peregrine falcons, black-backed gulls and rats. The adults have a hard enough life as it is, flying out to sea as far as 200 miles to catch fish for their young. They then navigate back in the dark and head for their burrows before any predators catch them regurgitating the fish for their greedy chicks. If it is a very bright night with a full moon, they have been known to stay out at sea to avoid being eaten. But the youngsters don’t know to avoid the bright nights and it is then that the deer can catch them.

Two years ago, Scotland on Sunday revealed that sheep had been seen eating exhausted migratory birds on the Orkney island of North Ronaldsay. And as with the Rum deer, the Orkney sheep displayed a predilection for the crunchy bits of their prey, their legs and beaks in particular. Explanations for the sheep’s strange behaviour varied from supplementing their diets to the theory the birds were getting in the way of ruminants trying to eat seaweed. Cindy Engel, of the Open University, who has written Wild Health: How Animals Keep Themselves Well, said the bird-eating deer of Rum and sheep of Orkney are just two examples among dozens of animals actively taking care of their health.

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What’s in a Name - Rum or Rhum?

A recent correspondent enquired after the correct spelling of Rum, believing the removal of the 'h' a Scottish Natural Heritage conspiracy. The fact of the matter is that from the earliest maps Rum (picture right, Ortelius, Abraham,

1527-1598 ) was spelt 'Rum'. Have a look at online copies of these early maps at the National Library of Scotland 'Here'. SNH merely reverted the name back to its proper spelling.

The first map to include the 'h' in the spelling was the Ordnance Survey Maps One-inch "Popular" edition, Scotland, 1921-1930. This is almost certainly through the intervention of Sir George Bullough.
The Wikipedia entry for Rum has a very interesting discussion on the correct spelling.

© National Library of Scotland

Further Reading

For info about books and resources about Rum, please visit our Further Reading section

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