A new community-owned bunkhouse on the Isle of Rum begins its first summer season this year.
The energy-efficient facility is close to the community-run campsite and camping pods with privately-run B&Bs and self-catering accommodation nearby. The new-look accommodation is owned and run by islanders with profits ploughed back into local projects.
The move comes as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) confirmed temporary hostel accommodation will be closed from 15 June 2015.
Stewart Sandison, SNH operations manager, said: “We have worked closely with the Isle of Rum Community Trust to develop a future for visitor accommodation facilities on the island after the previous facility in Kinloch Castle had become un-sustainable.
“Over the past few years we have worked with the trust to manage the transition to the community bunkhouse by providing an extremely effective temporary hostel.”
Rum National Nature Reserve (NNR) extends to around 10,000 hectares, or 41 square miles.
It features breath-taking jagged mountains with an amazing range of wildlife from white-tailed sea eagles to tiny, rare plants like the pillwort fern.
Rum is of international importance for Manx shearwaters with an estimated quarter of the world’s breeding population nesting in the high mountains on the island.
To avoid predators, they fly to their nesting burrows under cover of darkness, and their strange, night time calls were thought by Vikings to be trolls. SNH runs events throughout the summer to get a closer look at these remarkable little sea birds.
Lesley Watt, a director of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, said that: “Closure of the SNH hostel will create space for us to maximise income from our new bunkhouse and all the profits will be put back into development projects in our small community. It is also hoped that this project will continue to inspire more private individuals to take up business opportunities to provide further visitor facilities on the island.”
Jed Cossar, the community bunkhouse manager, said: “Thanks to a huge amount of hard work by directors and staff of the Isle of Rum Community Trust, Rum Enterprise and other community members pulling together, the vision of a community run bunkhouse has come to fruition on Rum.
“Tremendous thanks too to our funders, the Big Lottery and Highlands and Islands Enterprise for having faith in this project. As a result of this support, the bunkhouse has been built to high environmental specifications using sustainable materials and is the first purpose built visitor accommodation on Rum. It is highly insulated and boasts solar thermal panels, a pellet boiler and log burner, and sleeps up to 20 people in high quality self-catering accommodation with spectacular views across Loch Scresort.”
There is evidence of human existence on Rum for more than 8000 years and the island’s archaeological features are as fascinating as the wildlife.
Kinloch Castle was built in 1897 by the wealthy industrialist George Bullough. More than 2500 people visit the castle each year to marvel at its interior and furnishings, much of which remains as it was when the owner, Lady Bullough, sold it along with the island to the nation more than 50 years ago.
Commenting on the bunkhouse, Fliss Fraser, a director of Rum Enterprise, said: “In 2011 SNH and the Isle of Rum Community Trust began discussions to develop a long-term visitor accommodation plan for the island. This has now reached fruition in the form of this brilliant new bunkhouse.”
And Melanie Worman, visitor services manager for SNH, added: “The 32-bed temporary hostel has provided a comfortable place to stay for people visiting the island to enjoy the spectacular beauty of the National Nature Reserve.
“We opened the Kinloch Hostel adjacent to the castle in 2013 and, with not a little sadness, our last day will be 15 June 2015. I would like to thank all our guests for their custom and wish the IRCT and the bunkhouse team all the best.”
SNH will continue to run daily and private tours of Kinloch Castle throughout the season from April to October.
The bunkhouse opened for business in October 2014
For further information:
Stewart Sandison, SNH Fort William 01397 715232
Melanie Worman, SNH Isle of Rum 01687 462037
Fliss Fraser, IRCT Company Secretary 01687 462404
The Isle of Rum Community Trust is a company limited by guarantee with charitable status, established in 2007. It comprises a board of directors from on and off-island from a range of backgrounds. These individuals volunteer time and expertise for the benefit of the community. In January 2009 islanders voted in favour of a handover of assets in and around Kinloch Village from SNH to the Isle of Rum Community Trust, with the handover completed in March 2010.