Yo, ho, ho and a trip to Rum!

The weather this August has been very unsettled with hefty showers and unseasonably cool temperatures. We couldn’t believe our luck therefore, when our one ‘re-charging batteries’ day of dawned with clear blue skies and only a slight breeze! So join us on a trip to Rum, one of the Small isles off Skye. Our reason for visiting Rum was to explore Kinloch Castle (big, fancy house more accurately) built by George Bullough at the end of the 19th century.
We travelled to Rum with Misty Isle Boat Trips based at Elgol on Skye. The journey to Elgol was magnificent, skirting along the base of part of the Cuillin Ridge. The Ridge was so clear it felt that we could reach out and touch them.

the Cuillin

The construction of Kinloch Castle started in 1897 using red sandstone imported from Coire Quarry on the Isle of Arran and took three years to build employing upwards of 300 craftsmen, including stonemasons, carpenters, wood-carvers, stained glass makers and many other specialist trades. One in particular however was almost unique, that of electrician, as Kinloch Castle was the first private residence in Scotland to have electricity, with a dam constructed on the Coire Dubh burn for hydro generation.
The bill for this exceptional piece of grand architecture and bespoke decoration was approximately £15 million in today’s money.

Kinloch Castle

The castle was built by George Bullough, son of James and grandson of John. Our main reason for wanting to see the castle, is that the Bulloughs hailed from Lancashire, the county where Kevin and I lived before re-locating to Skye. Howard and Bulloughs was a huge concern, manufacturing machinery for the cotton industry and was situated in Accrington, where we both did a large part of our growing up. (More accurately, I lived a couple of miles away in Oswaldtwistle, another hot-bed of invention during the industrial revolution.) John Bullough started life as a lowly mill hand but had a very inventive mind, coming up with various improvements to the looms of the time. His son James had a good business mind and at the height of business at Howard and Bullough’s, more that 6,000 workers were employed and the factory covered 52 acres. James Bullough bought the Isle of Rum in 1888 for the hunting and his son, George, inherited the island, and half of his father’s wealth when he was 21. And George certainly knew how to spend! George married ‘society beauty’ Monica Lily de la Pasture (latterly Lady Monica) a divorcee (George being named in the divorce proceedings) shortly after the castle was built. She in turn made her mark on the castle, with major redecorating adding a more feminine touch to certain areas of the castle.

kinloch castle

The place is stuffed full of the weird and wonderful, as well as some wonderful inventions. Amongst the many unique features (including air conditioning in the billiard room) is a very special music player called the ‘Orchestrion’. The Orchestrion is essentially an organ driven by electric motor that plays perforated card rolls. Only three exist and the castle example is the only one that can be played. Apparently it was built for Queen Victoria who planned to install it in Balmoral Castle, but she died before it was completed.



There are plenty of rare, beautiful and even downright sinister things to see chez Bullough, such as the monkey-eating eagle…

monkey-eating eagle

…hand-embroidered, silk wallpaper…

silk wallpaper

…the original silk lampshades in the ballroom…

silk lampshades

…the dining room…

dining room

… Lady Monica’s bedroom…


… a bath/shower which could probably squirt you in places you didn’t know you had…


…and perhaps most bizarrely of all, a naked portrait of Lady Monica on the first floor landing! I don’t know about you, but drinking a hot cup of tea in such a state of undress is not very wise in my eyes!

lady monica

An interesting piece of ‘gossip’ from the castle involves the ballroom; a beautiful room with a sprung floor which curiously has its windows positioned high in the walls, preventing any person outside from looking in. Also, the orchestral balcony in the room has thick drapes which could provide privacy for the dancers if required. There was even a ‘secret’ two-doored cupboard for ordering and receiving beverages by a swift rap and a written request, whereupon your drinks were prepared by someone on the opposite side of the cupboard and their subsequent arrival being announced in a similar fashion so that no lowly cocktail-shaker could view any bawdy behaviour in the ballroom! There’s a dance in Scotland called ‘Strip the Willow’; maybe the Bulloughs took it literally!!

As it was such a beautiful day, we even had the opportunity to have a walk around the area before returning to the boat.

kinloch castle

kinloch castle

kinloch castle

On our return journey, just to provide a perfect ending to a wonderful day, we were surrounded by a pod of dolphin who encouraged gasps of delights from all the passengers! They were way too unpredictably fast for me to photograph one leaping from the water, but here’s one just under the water next to the boat – so that you know that I’m not making it up!


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2 Responses to “Yo, ho, ho and a trip to Rum!”

  1. RecyclerSA Says:

    Lovely old place …. I wouldn’t want a picture of my naked butt on the first floor landing full stop 🙂 Sailing along with the dolphins is always fun. Laura

  2. garybuie01 Says:

    Inside a sturdy cupboard would probably be the best place for a painting of my bare behind!

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