Adventures / Wild Hikes

Isle of Rùm Expedition

A truly wild adventure on a remote island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides

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Trip Ref #10412

Adventures / Wild Hikes

Isle of Rùm Expedition

A truly wild adventure on a remote island in the Scottish Inner Hebrides

DURATION

4 nights

LOCATION

United Kingdom

ANNUAL LEAVE

3 days off work

SEASON

April-Oct

GROUP SIZE

Up to 10 people

MEETING POINT

Mallaig, Scottish Highlands

ACCOMMODATION

Wild camping · Hostel

DIFFICULTY

Challenging

This is a challenging trip with full days and steep ascents carrying your own gear and wild camping out in the elements

Traverse the 6 peaks of the Rùm Cuillin ridge, topping out on Askival (812m) for the ultimate panorama of the Western Isles

Soak up life on Scotland's hidden gem; an island of no roads, forgotten castles and a mere 29 residents

Wild camp in deserted spots alongside rocky shorelines, keeping watch for eagles, otters, seals, dolphins and the ubiquitous red deer

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    David, July 2022

    Looking for great scenery, and not bumping into lots of other hikers, do this trip. Absolutely gorgeous landscapes - I will be thinking about the views and the trip for years to come. Admittedly, we were lucky with the weather, which helped. (Even the train journey from Glasgow - Mallaig has stunning views before you even start hiking).

    Jo, July 2022

    This was a fantastic trip - I was excited about it and it went far beyond what I expected. Helped along by great weather, but largely that was due to a top leader - in Jeannie - and a great (and eclectic) group! 3 days of trekking and camping without meeting another living sole - you'd have to travel some to match that. Campsites to die for. Challenging peaks. Great swimming holes. Kit better than my own. Top food (if anything too much!) - all rounded off with a local venison steak and wine at the Rum Community Centre. A1+

    Louise, June 2022

    We didn’t go to the Isle of Rùm due to terrible weather, so we went to the Cairngorms instead- where we ended up camping in a gale! The tents broke, so for the final two nights we were in accommodation in Fort William. Connor was a fantastic guide and helped us to make the most of a trip that definitely didn’t go according to plan!

    Megan, June 2022

    Although we didn't get to Rum, Connor bent over backwards to make this trip an experience for us and he was constantly thinking on his feet in the most unexpected adverse conditions! The food was great, the company was great, and we all had a fantastic adventure, despite it not being quite what we'd signed up for!

    Jana, June 2022

    We wanted to do Isle of Rum expedition, instead we got a much better adventure. Namely, weather conditions on Isle of Rum during our planed tay were extremely bad and basically dangerous. The amazing guide, Connor, was quick on his feet and instead of us being miserably stuck in tents or cancelling our tour, he proposed to take the adventure to Cairngorms, where weather forecast was drastically better. After the whole group enthusiastically agreed, he created a matching itinerary of our hiking program on Rum and we had a truly lovely time! He even taught us the basics of scrambling and showed us "the roads less traveled" in the area, so our trip felt truly special ! All in all, it was a wonderful adventure ! Thanks Connor !

    Jessica, May 2022

    Don’t mind what the Scottish weather throws at you? Feel fit and have some experience of walking with a big pack? Want a challenge? Then this is the trip for you! The guides, Jeannie and Duncan, were fantastic and incredibly knowledgeable. I haven’t done much scrambling before so felt in very safe hands particularly up on the ridge. If you want to try more scrambling this is a great way to do so. The packs are heavy so I would definitely recommend some practice walks to get used to carrying everything. Rùm is beautiful. Sadly it likes to be mysterious and hide behind a lot of rain and cloud at times…. So, be sure to make the most of breaks in the weather. Conditions can change quickly but that’s part of the fun. The food that is provided is filling and will keep you going. If, like me, you’re not a huge fan of energy bars you should bring some treats of your own to have as snacks. Just avoid anything too heavy unless you plan to eat it on the first day! The kit that is supplied is a tent, a sleeping mat, eating/drinking utensils, and stoves that are shared amongst everyone. For a group of 6 we had two stoves so carried the stoves and gas canisters between us. Be sure to pack ALL your stuff in dry bags. Furthermore, use a waterproof inner liner of some sort - I used a sturdy bin bag. Waterproof socks like Sealskinz are useful and decent waterproof jacket/trousers are a must. The trip is knackering and exhilarating. The walk on day 1 (Kinloch to Harris) is a gentle introduction to the island. Expect things to get much more rugged on the following days.

    Dan, May 2022

    A brilliant experience overall, the local guides Jeannie and Duncan are superb and look after everyone well. This trip is truly wild - the animals, the terrain and of course the weather! Make sure you have good waterproofs and hiking boots. The difficulty of the hiking and scrambling is adjusted to the abilities of the group and the weather, it's tough but achievable. The equipment and food provided was of a high standard, much like the terrible dad-jokes provided by Duncan. Rum is a beautiful place and I'll definitely be back. Would recommend!

    Dawn, September 2021

    The only word to describe this trip is WILD. Wild; scenery, weather, animals, seas. If that's your bag, and you have a natural tendency for adopting slightly (no - very) feral behaviours, you're going to love it. Guides Connor and Jeannie are stone cold legends and absolute experts and have made it their mission to ensure everyone is having the best possible time. Food was tasty and plentiful, equipment provided is top notch.

    Amanda, September 2021

    The wildest experience I've ever had in the UK! If you want to get away from it all, this is your trip. It is challenging terrain mostly unmarked paths which is one of the things that makes it so exciting. The guides Connor and Jeannine were absolutely fantastic and went above and beyond to make our trip as safe and enjoyable as it could be. The scenery is out of this world and the soundtrack to lull you to sleep every night is either the sound of a waterfall or the wild Atlantic sea crashing against the shore. The food way exceeded expectations, I think I ate better this last week than I usually do at home. Dinner on the last night was especially wonderful with fresh lobster which was a real highlight. If I could give others considering this trip a couple of tips it would be check your boots for rips before you go, take the warnings about Gortex gear seriously, invest in some waterproof socks and definitely take some sort of sturdy sandal or crocs with you! I would go as far as to say I am a changed human being after this experience in more ways than one.... I publicly promise to never take the mic out of people who wear crocs ever again. I get it. Finally.

    Liam, September 2021

    Had an amazing time on Rum with our guides Connor and Jeannie, loads of fun and laughs. We had some wild Scottish weather which matched the wild landscape that you find on the island. Camp food was exceptional. If you come with real expectations and an excitable and open attitude you’ll have the best time on this rare piece of the planet. 5 out of 5, would visit again How likely a

    Included

    Guides

    Local, certified mountain guides

    Accommodation

    3 nights wild camping, 1 night in a bunkhouse

    Meals

    Expedition-style meals throughout

    Transfers

    Return ferry tickets from Mallaig to Kinloch

    Equipment

    Expedition tents

    Not Included

    Travel to and from the start point

    Personal expenses

    Travel insurance

    The Area

    map

    Logistics

    Starts

    Mallaig

    09:00 on Day 1

    Ends

    Mallaig

    14:00 on Day 5

    Transfers

    The start and end point of the trip is in Mallaig. You'll need to make your own way to the Mallaig ferry terminal at 09:00 to leave plenty of time ahead of the 10:10 ferry departing for Rùm. Your host will meet you at the ferry terminal. There is a Co-op store round the corner to grab any last-minute supplies.

    Travel options

    Rail travellers are in for a treat. You can take the West Highland Line to Mallaig through one of the most scenic rail routes in the world, passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct – used in the Harry Potter films for the Hogwarts Express. If you're taking the train to Mallaig you'll need to arrive the day before the trip starts and spend the night in Mallaig as there are no trains that will get you into Mallaig in time for the 10:10 ferry.

    Mallaig is roughly a 3 hours and 30 minutes drive from Glasgow, 4 hours from Edinburgh. You can leave your vehicle for free in the long stay car park adjacent to the ferry port, on the left as you drive into town. There are three rapid electric vehicle charging points available in Mallaig at the West Bay Car Park, approximately 300m from the ferry terminal.

    Mallaig is easily reached by bus from Glasgow with a change in Fort William. Shiel Buses operate a service departing from Fort William which will officially link up with the ferry departure at 10:10 on day 1.

    Day 1

    Wild camping · Solo tent

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 2 – Day 3

    Wild camping · Solo tent

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 4

    Hostel · Solo tent

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    Day 5

    Departure day

    Breakfast

    Lunch

    Dinner

    What is the food like?

    The food on the trip is proper expedition style since there are no shops at all until you reach Kinloch on the evening of Day 4. Your host will bring along lightweight but hearty expedition meals to be distributed so that everyone carries their own food. Expect oats and coffee for breakfast, sandwiches and fruit for lunch and a selection of curries, risottos, pasta and couscous from the array of dehydrated dinners. Make sure to bring along a good supply of your own energy and protein bars. After the big Cuillin traverse on Day 4, you'll be cooked a delicious dinner by one of the locals in Kinloch who runs a small restaurant called Kim's Kitchen. Here you can tuck into venison from Rùm itself, almost certainly the most sustainable meat found anywhere, given the lack of food miles and the need to control the deer population to allow trees and shrubs to regenerate on the island.

    Most dietary requirements can be accommodated, including vegetarian and vegan diets.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Wild Camping

    You'll be wild camping at spots on Harris Bay, Papadil and next to the Dibidil River. The locations are stunning and make for a big part of the adventure. You'll stay in a solo tent supplied by your host - you'll need to pack your own sleeping bag and lightweight sleeping mat such as a Thermarest. If you'd prefer a twin tent your host can provide one, please request this at the time of booking.

    Rùm Bunkhouse

    Your final night is spent at the Isle of Rùm community bunkhouse in Kinloch. You'll stay in 4-bed rooms, or twin rooms depending on group size and availability. The bunkhouse is situated on a gravel track right on the waterfront a short walk from the jetty. It has a spacious and comfortable living and dining area with a log burner, plus all-important hot showers after your days in the wilderness.

    Upgrades

    Due to the very limited space at the bunkhouse and a lack of alternative accommodation on the island, private room upgrades are not possible on this trip. You will automatically have a solo tent for the 3 nights of wild camping.

    Day 1

    Hop on the ferry to Rùm and hike to Harris

    Hiking

    4hrs · 13km · 310m up · 310m down

    Meet your guide at the port in Mallaig. Hop on the 10 o'clock ferry and settle in for the 90-minute crossing with views of the Western Highlands and the nearby Isles of Skye and Eigg. Arriving at Kinloch on Rùm you'll start the hike straight from the jetty, following an excellent trail cutting through the wild interior with spectacular views of the Rùm Cuillin. End up at Harris Bay, a beautiful spot to wild camp, grab a swim in the sea and explore the nearby mausoleum.

    Day 2

    Harris to Papadil

    Hiking

    5-6hrs · 9km · 550m up · 500m down

    Breakfast and coffee overlooking the bay, keeping watch for otters, sea eagles, seals, dolphins and if you're super lucky orca and basking sharks spend time in the waters around Rùm. Load up the pack for the next hike around the coast, tackling rougher terrain off the trail today with some rocky sections, moorland and bog. You'll definitely see a good number of Rùm's large red deer population around here, and if conditions are good you'll scramble up your first of the island's peaks: Ruinsival. Wild camping tonight is at Papadil, an abandoned settlement on the coast a short walk from Loch Papadil.

    Day 3

    Papadil to Dibidil

    Hiking

    4-5hrs · 5km · 400m up · 375m down

    Today you’ll continue along an old pony path that steers you through some tricky terrain, it can be slow going as you navigate the rough ground in this wild area. On a clear day, you can see the distant silhouettes of the Outer Hebridean chain of islands; Barra, Uist, Lewis and Harris. Skirt around the edge of Sgùrr nan Gillean as the full arc of the Rùm Cuillin comes into view while you descend towards Dibidil bothy. The camp tonight is in a beautiful spot next to the Dibidil River which flows down from the Cuillin, forming a waterfall into the sea while the Isle of Eigg hovers in the distance. You have your choice of wild swim spots in the river or ocean before some much-needed sleep ahead of tomorrow.

    Day 4

    The Rùm Cuillin Traverse

    Hiking

    7-8hrs · 13km · 1590m up · 1625m down

    Today is the big day of the expedition with the aim being a full traverse of the Rùm Cuillin. You’ll take in six peaks with lung-busting climbs, exposed ridges and summit scrambles including to the high point of the island at the top of Askival (812m), rewarding you with 360-degree views back along the Rùm Cuillin, across to the Outer Hebrides and over to the famous Black Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye. After high-fives on the top of Askival, embark on a fun frolic to the finish line, scrambling down the boulder-strewn peak, along a ridge, up and over Hallival (722m) and down into Kinloch - the only hamlet on the island and home to 29 people, one of whom will cook you up a sumptuous feast while you sip a well-earned beer overlooking the bay.

    Day 5

    Wave goodbye to the Isle of Rùm

    It's time to say cheerio to your new favourite Scottish island as you head back to the jetty to hop on the 10:40 ferry back to Mallaig. Stand out on deck for farewell vistas of the Rùm Cuillin which you successfully traversed yesterday. The adventure ends as the ferry pulls into Mallaig at 14:00.

    15% Off Outdoor Gear

    In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

    What's included?

    • Solo expedition tent
    • Sleeping mat

    Your host will also carry essential group equipment such as a first aid kit and group shelter.

    What do I need to bring?

    Pack as light as you can, you'll be carrying everything for the whole trip.

    BAGS

    • Hiking rucksack (we recommend 45-60 litres) with waterproof liner
    • 2 x drybags: one for your tent and one for your sleeping bag

    CLOTHES

    • Good quality waterproof hiking boots (not shoes)
    • Long hiking trousers (not shorts)
    • Hiking socks, two or three pairs
    • Thermal base layer, merino best
    • Fleece top – not cotton
    • Synthetic or down jacket, ideally lightweight and packable with stuff sack
    • Heavy-duty waterproof jacket and trousers
    • Hat
    • A pair of good gloves
    • Neck buff
    • Biodegradable wet-wipes
    • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
    • Insect repellant - Smidge is good for when the midges are around
    • Power bank or solar charger

    OTHER

    • Sleeping bag, season 3 rated, ideally as lightweight as possible
    • Lightweight camping pillow
    • Head torch
    • Reusable water bottle
    • Energy snacks
    • Sunglasses
    • Sun cream
    • Lightweight towel
    • Tick remover

    OPTIONAL

    • Walking poles (if you like to use them)
    • Extra dry bags for clothes or valuables

    No optional extras are available for this trip.

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 49kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    A good level of fitness is recommended - you'll be out for up to 9 hours in a mountain environment moving over challenging terrain and ascending considerable heights on Day 4. Some previous hillwalking experience is recommended, and we suggest putting in some light training for this adventure by going on some hikes carrying a backpack in your local area in the lead up to the trip. You will be carrying your gear throughout the hike, including a sleeping bag, tent and food. Your load will be lighter on Day 4 for the big push over the Rum Cuillin. The scrambling along the Cuillin ranges from grade 1-3, but all sections are more than doable alongside your experienced and highly qualified mountain guides. Make sure to bring along a sense of adventure and a willingness to go with the flow on account of Scotland's ever-changing weather! Nights can be cold even in the height of summer, and of course, this being Scotland, it can rain. A lot.

    Yes. As the mountain weather on Rùm can be unpredictable your guide will be making regular decisions regarding which routes to take, particularly on Day 4 for the traverse of the Rùm Cuillin. If the conditions are not good, the traverse can be shortened so that you hike half of the range, including the two highest points which is still a tough but brilliant day! There is also a coastal hike to Kinloch if conditions are so bad as to not allow any part of the Cuillin to be attempted. Your guide will make the ultimate decision on routes based on safety considerations. There will be two guides on the trip, allowing for the group to break off if some people wish to tackle the Cuillin ridge, while others wish to take the easier coastal route back to Kinloch.

    Each guide holds the Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor Certificate - having been assessed and approved by Mountain Training UK. This is the highest professional certification for Summer Mountaineering in Great Britain. They all hold First Aid certifications as well.

    Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

    The weather in the Western Isles can easily offer all four seasons in one day so you should be prepared as such. Your guides will be assessing the weather constantly and will adjust the route based on wind and wet weather predictions. Weather is important for the Cuillin traverse with wet rock taking twice as long to cross as dry rock so this will be factored into the plan for the day. It's important to bring good waterproof clothing, dry bags and ideally Goretex hiking boots - see the kit list for more detail.

    You'll be filling up your water bottle throughout the trip from burns and rivers that flow down from the Rùm Cuillin. These are safe to drink directly from, with no water treatment necessary. Make sure to bring along a reusable water bottle. In Kinloch you'll be able to fill up from the islands tap water supply, which again is safe to drink from.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

    If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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