I waved a cheery goodbye to Alex, thankful I wasn't pushing my poor old knees up Orval and had only a few kilometers of easy track to roll down as the soles of my feet were badly blistered.
This happy mood proved short lived however as the track down to Kilmory turned out to be bad. Maybe a skillful,determined mountain biker could complete it on a bike but I found this rutted, stone filled track easier to walk down.A very angry Mike Tyson using your bottom as a punching bag for a half hour's entertainment would have the same effect as staying in the saddle down this track.
Although they can no longer keep visitors out they certainly don't roll out the red carpet down here.
There was only one person I could see observing deer, a good distance away on the hillside with what looked like a very large telescopic lens.
Like all former prey species if you don't look or stare at them directly they don't feel so nervous in your presence, more curious. Now magpies or jays...they are far harder to sneak up on, no matter how quietly you move towards them.
Kilmory itself was a disappointment. An average beach ,an average coastline, nothing really that stood out as spectacular unless you could count the views out towards a distant Skye and its coastline of cliffs around Talisker Bay. Or maybe it was just a dull morning and I was feeling flat, just like the weather this morning. I don't enjoy grey skies much and my mood has always matched the weather since childhood, hence the Blueskyscotland ambition.
Despite being short on roads two Charabangs were delivered and then maintained outside the castle so the guests and the Bulloughs could travel along the few miles of drivable roads to other parts of the island.
Hundreds of hardworking puffers delivered the sandstone to this remote island from quarries on Arran despite having good sandstone aplenty on this island (Sir George liked the colour of the Arran stone more, despite objections, and he always got his way.)
Builders,roofers,interior designers and landscapers arrived and proceeded to create a lush paradise on this otherwise bleak ,windswept part of Scotland.
This is a bronze monkey eating eagle perched on a treetop in the great hall.
When his father John died in 1891 George inherited a 221 foot steam yacht, and all his fathers estates.
With an annual income in the millions at today's values it was he who built the castle.Maybe he had amassed so many exotic objects from around the world on his tour he needed a place to show them all off.
He later married, became a Sir and his high society wife became Lady Monica. Both their portraits hang in the main hall seen in the 4th photo up above. Painted on their 40th birthday,s a year apart.
What she thought of his tastes in sculpture I don't know but her own rooms are decorated in less confrontational style although a naked portrait with her back turned of her sipping tea on a rug hangs outside her bedroom.
Seemingly this was her own in joke. A jibe at the newspapers and tittle tattle of the day.With Rum being strictly off limits then to all but invited guests, and the Bulloughs guarding their privacy ferociously all sorts of rumours and speculation hit the headlines regularly about what they got up to behind the closed doors of this out of bounds hidden kingdom.
Even the outside guttering with its rows of fierce gargoyles looking down seem to dare intruders to enter.
Luckily, I had a clean pair of socks on as you have to take your shoes off to explore inside, walking over polished floors, period carpets, and rugs.They are overhauling the roof at present to make it watertight. Just in time as a few of the upper rooms are showing signs of water penetration damage.
The upkeep and maintenance on a remote building of this size, even in Sir George's day is and was an ongoing burden and after the First World War the annual visits became less frequent.The mood of hedonistic extravagance had altered with the war. It was also harder to get staff to the island as a lot of them never returned from the battlefields. Skilled men in the highlands willing to live on Rum became harder to find.
Sir George died in 1939 aged 69. Understandably, Lady Monica made less frequent visits to the castle after his death although she took over the running of the estate and castle right up until she signed it over to the nature conservancy in 1957. By that time she had failing eyesight and had been worrying about the future of Rum and its castle for years. She died in 1967 at the age of 98 and an era passed away with her.
I know a few places like this in Scotland, concrete estates built halfway up the sides of hills and living here is not easy.So it's not all scenic delights in the wilds of Scotland and many people who escape to the countryside find it has all the same problems of cities and towns, with teenage gangs, bad behavior, drink, drugs, good folk, bad folk, other social issues...just more isolated.
When we reached Glasgow it was pouring down with rain and hailstones, which pleased us.The west coast islands have been getting a good spell of weather during the last few weeks. Best weather in the UK recently. Long may it continue. They deserve it up north.