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New Rum and Small Isles Walking book - May 2012


Walking on Rum and the Small Isles - by Peter Edwards 2012

A new guidebook to Walking on Rum and the Small Isles, which also covers near neighbours Coll and Tiree, is published by the UK's leading outdoor pursuits specialists, Cicerone Press, on June 15th 2012. The author, Peter Edwards, spent much of the first half of 2011 carrying out his field 'research' walking the length and breadth of the isles in his attempt to produce the definitive walking guide to a region that he believes offers some of the finest walking to be had anywhere in the UK. However, compared with many areas of the Highlands and Islands, the Small Isles remain off the beaten track; as Peter puts it:

It is customary to refer to the Small Isles as the 'hidden gems' of the Western Isles – and with good cause. Though blessed with great natural beauty, an abundance of wildlife and remarkable geological features, the islands tend to be overlooked, literally and metaphorically, by the many visitors drawn to the famously scenic grandeur of Skye, their renowned and imposing neighbour.

The relative dearth of visitors is partly due to the Small Isles having few roads  and visitors only being allowed to bring vehicles by special arrangement. Furthermore, though the islands' amenities are generally of a good standard, they are far from extensive. Therefore, planning a walking trip to the Small Isles requires a degree of logistical forethought – just getting here can be an undertaking in itself.

The upside is the real sense of remoteness that is found among the hills, along the rugged coastlines and beach-garlanded shores of these wonderful islands;  they are a haven for those who like to get away from the madding crowd and enjoy the peace and freedom of walking through landscapes unaffected by large-scale tourism.

Rum, the largest of the group, is just 14km north to south by 13.5km east to west. Yet in this relatively small area the island provides remarkable scope for the adventurous and experienced walker. The distinctive chain of volcanic hills comprising the Rum Cuillin is the obvious and immediate draw for outdoor enthusiasts, whether for hill-walking, scrambling or rock climbing. A round of the Rum Cuillin makes for a challenging day in the hills and usually features somewhere on the 'to-do' list of Scottish mountain afficianados. This is the first guidebook to provide a detailed route description of this remarkable mountain walk using Ordnance Survey mapping.

However, for the adventurous walker there is much more to Rum than the Cuillin. This guidebook includes detailed route descriptions for seven walks on the island, with variants, including the Cuillin traverse; the Dibdil horseshoe; a challenging and sublime two to three-day walk around the coast, and circular routes around the remote western hills – as well as several shorter routes.

The guidebook also covers the other islands of the Small Isles archipelago – Eigg, Canna and Muck – as well as their near neighbours, Coll and Tiree – the Hebridean Twins. Unsurprisingly, many of the routes included are coastal walks traversing extremely varied terrain from rugged, rocky shores and vertiginous cliffs to vast expanses of flower-carpeted machair and white sandy beaches. These coastal landscapes teem with wildlife and remarkable geological features, including raised beaches, caves, natural arches, sea stacks and basalt dikes. Many traces of the islands' histories, both ancient and more recent, are found around these coastlines; from Bronze Age duns (fortifications) perched on rocky promontories to the abandoned settlements, bearing mute testament to the Highland Clearances.

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