In 1970 European Conservation Year was celebrated with the Festival of the Countryside. KCFA member John Goss took a very special trip.

TSS King George V Trip to Rum

At 12.30 on Monday 11th May, 1970, outside the Gairloch Hotel, HRH the Princess Margaret performed the opening ceremony for the 'Festival of the Countryside'. Running until the 22nd May, the Festival was sponsored by the Highlands and Islands Development Board in association with the Wester Ross Tourist organisation.

For twelve days a wealth of wildlife and countryside within the are was made available for visitors to enjoy. From Plockton Airstrip you could take a flight in a Loganair Islander to St Kilda for £7.10s, or a thirty minute tour round the islands of Eigg and Rhum for £3.15s (£2.00 for children)! There was archery at Gairloch, cruises to the Crowlin Islands, St Kilda or on Loch Maree, mountain rescue demonstrations and, as they say, lots more!

For a youthful John Goss, clutching my £5.00 'Runabout Travel Ticket', the highlight came on the last day of the Festival as I stepped aboard the TSS King George V at Armadale, Skye; Mallaig being 'too full of fishing boats' for embarkation to take place there. My destination, the Isle of Rhum Nature Reserve. I kept a journal of my travels which were published in the Coastal Cruising Association Magazine. 


Friday 22nd May 1970

'We anchored in Loch Scresort, the Rhum landing place, spot on time...On the lowest tide of the season!



Bruce Watt's motor vessel, rejoicing in the name 'Clansman' acted as tender, but she also ran out of water and it was left to a couple of stout hearted lads and a lass to take us the last few yards.



Later boat loads had an easier if less spectacular journey as the tide rose. We had time ashore to take our photographs, to clear out the Post Office's entire stock of postcards, to empty the tea urn in the Village Hall and to visit Kinloch Castle, where we were treated to a rousing performance of 'Maritana' on the Imhof and Mukle Orchestrion that lurked beneath the stairs'.


Now a professional industrial photographer and a member of the KCFA, I joined their September 1999 work party to make a return visit to the island I recall with very fond memories. I was so busy in 1970 taking pictures on the outside that I ran out of time to take any of the inside of Kinloch castle! Armed with lots of film, tripod and camera, I seized this latest opportunity, for time might not be on my side to wait another thirty years!

This article by John was first published in the KCFA Newsletter, following his 1999 visit and is reproduced with his permission.

Since then he shared another very memorable work party when he and his wife May were married in the Great Hall of Kinloch Castle witnessed by family, friends, KCFA members and members of the Rum Community.