By Flora Blissett
“Come on giiiiirls! We are the most amazing girls!” Amélie cries, right before she lunges, hip deep, into the bog. The rain cuts down upon us at a diagonal. Such is the pattern of our walk.
It’s a rainy day (it’s winter on Rum). The cloud is low and, after much deliberation, we leave the Bunkhouse mid-morning. The change in the weather brought about a change in our plans and we set out, not for Dibidil bothy, but for Guirdil. The first leg is plain sailing, along the track to Kilmory. A group of hinds scatter in the valley below as we make our worst attempts to bark at them. Things get a big soggier as we take the left turning off onto the path and over the hills. After a little while, we meet another hiker coming towards us. “Are you headed to Guirdil bothy?” He asks. “Yes!” we beam back. “I wouldn’t if I were you” – and goes on to explain that, after the heavy rain this weekend, the river is too swollen to cross. Funnily enough, however, we’re not him. So we will go. Instead of crossing the river at the path’s ford, however, we decide to turn off the path now, further up the valley where it’s narrower and more jumpable, and then hug it down the valley to the bothy.
In retrospect, this call made absolutely no difference to how dry we stayed or wet we got. If anything, we probably all got wetter. We could have simply taken off our boots and socks to cross the big river if we’d stayed with the path.
In any case, we choose the bog-walk and, after much tumbling, stumbling, plunging, and laughing, we re-joined the path on the crest of the cliffs before Guirdil. We all stand still . Looking out over the sea from the cliff tops, the land orange in the dying grasses and the sea grey and blown back white in the rain, it’s so exciting to be so peaceful.
We break into a jog as we see the bothy in the bay below us. Just as we’d hoped: a little house of stone facing the sea. Wild goats and a few hinds lumber about the shingle. We go in. No one is here, but notes pinned on the walls and a guest book on the window sill welcome us into the group of those who have been here before.
Getting the fire going is a little slow at first, but we’ve carried dry wood with us, and the previous visitors have left behind some dry kindling. That’s bothy courtesy – we do the same the next morning as we leave. In a change of clothes, with the fire (eventually) roaring, pot noodles have never tasted so good. We’ve also carried a few beers with us (as experienced hikers, we know only to bring the essentials…) and settle in for a 4.30pm sunset and night ahead of firelight, chatting, and quiz questions from a tattered book propped in the corner. I think the score card might have got chucked in the flames.
8pm. Wood all burnt, the night air cools. It’s officially bedtime. This was probably the longest sleep any of us have had since arriving on Rum. And, up in the mezzanine, it was a very cosy sleep.
Waking up to the sound of no rain, it seems we have a good day ahead of us. Sheer wind buffets us as we find (or don’t) the path between the mountains back to the track towards Kinloch. The clouds tumble over the hills and all peaks are hidden from view, their heights left to the imagination’s freedom. After a brief lunch break of bread and cheese within the shelter of a bridge, we carry on, practically singing, to the village.
Soaked to the skin, smiling from ear to ear, we’ve all finally slept in a bothy, explored a new part of the island, and have built up a good appetite for several helpings of lasagne.