Route plan for the day’s walking:
I was told in the morning that I should have joined the Ceilidh, but I hadn’t wanted to intrude and was glad to have bagged Askival. I was nevertheless invited to join the evening’s BBQ, which I would have to pay for, but having not eaten properly in a while and being devoid of a social life this sounded like a good idea.
The weather was rather dull and cloudy in the morning, and I did not fancy hillwalking. In pursuit of a lower-level walk, I decided to head for Guirdil Bay on the west coast of the island, a six-mile trek. The bay is home to one of two mountain bothies on Rum (the other being at Dibidil in the south of the island). A bothy is a very basic building which can be freely used by anyone whether simply for shelter or to stay in overnight. They are commonly found in remote areas of upland Britain, particularly in the Scottish Highlands. Guirdil bothy held a special attraction for me firstly because I had discovered it during my online research when planning my cycle ride, marvelling at pictures of its excellent secluded location and secondly because I’d never before visited a bothy.
I set off down the firm and obvious track through Kinloch Glen. This was none too strenuous, and was relatively flat. I soon reached the rougher pony path which led off to the left. This was rather less well-paved crossing a few boggy stretches which quickly converted my cycling SPD shoes to a pair of sopping sponges. I soon reach the coast and was heading south to Guirdil.
After about two hours I had reached the bothy at Guirdil, in its spectacular setting at the bottom of Bloodstone Hill. A man named David invited me in to the bothy for a cup of tea and showed me around. It was fascinating to see the interior of the rustic little bothy. The main room was plainly equipped with padded wooden benches, some shelves and a table. Its meager decoration extended to a pinned-up 1980s map of the area, while a pair of antlers garnished the wall above the stone fireplace. Up-ladder, a wooden sleeping platform was found. The “toilet” consisted of a spade and some toilet roll! We discussed our respective adventures; he was having a (very) quiet break using the two bothies at Dibidil and Guirdil as a base to explore the island, whilst I described to him my cycle tour and how I’d cycled hundreds of miles up from Cheltenham via the Western Isles.
I thought I would easily be able to climb Bloodstone Hill from Guirdil, although I was warned that the top was very steep. I climbed up the precipitous grassy slopes until I was quite close to the summit. The weather by then had brightened sufficiently for me to enjoy scenic views back to Guirdil and over to the Isle of Canna. A short way from the top, I reached an area of loose rocky scrambling, the handholds crumbling away as I attemped to climb. I decided that it would be dangerous and foolhardy to keep climbing to the summit across the untouched rocks. Rather than allowing the hill to live up to its name, I slowly slid, easing myself down the precarious slopes.
When I reached the bottom, I considered taking the safe route to reach the summit of Bloodstone Hill, however it required quite a lengthy detour, and I was pushed for time in order to return for the BBQ. Instead, I quickly made progress back to Kinloch.
Gazing back at Bloodstone Hill, its fine profile made it seem higher than its 388m.
I made it back to Kinloch in time for the BBQ of salad, potato and pasta dishes, local venison burgers, freshly caught pollock, sausages and wine – a real feast after almost two weeks on my humble cyclist’s diet! I spoke to lots of interesting people – the host of the party was a well-known cellist, which invited all sorts of musical friends, some of whom were apparently quite distinguished. The people I talked to seemed mostly amazed and enthused by my adventures; I shared some of my pictures showing them on my little camera screen. Others however thought my cycling expedition was a little crazy, particularly when I related storied of my scrambling on A’Chir and getting nearly flooded out of my tent on Arran! It was good to enjoy a bit of socialising after extended days of solo adventuring. The day closed with a fine sunset and I returned to my tent on Rum’s main campsite (which has fantastic showers!)