Rum NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Rum to experience one of Scotland’s most dramatic islands, within easy reach of the mainland.




Avian Flu - Access advice for the northern part of the Rum Cuillin - restrictions lifted from Friday 16 September 2022

Access through the globally important Manx Shearwater colony in the Rum Cuillin was restricted earlier this summer following confirmation that a bird found dead in the colony was infected with highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of avian flu.  We have since been carefully monitoring the colony.  We are relieved to report that there is no evidence of catastrophic avian flu impacts in the Rum Manx Shearwater colony. 

This reassuring news and the overall decrease in levels of shearwater activity at the colony as the end of the breeding season approaches means that the risk of incidental spread of avian flu, is much lower than earlier in the season.

With this in mind, we will be reopening the main Rum Cuillin traverse walking route, from Friday 16th September 2022.  The situation through the spring and summer 2023 will be kept under active review based on available evidence around avian flu.

Manx Shearwaters can still be present in the colony until mid-October.  Therefore, until 14 October 2022, visitors to the Rum Cuillin are asked to stay on the main routes, away from the shearwater burrows and not to stay for prolonged periods around the colony, this includes wild camping. This applies to areas above 450m on Barkeval, Hallival, Askival and Trollabhal only – see map below.  Please follow any biosecurity measures on the island. 

At this time of year, it is not unusual for fledgling Manx shearwaters to turn up in the village, attracted by lights. Visitors should not touch dead or live birds.


Getting here

Travel to Rum is usually by boat from Mallaig, but smaller boats also offer services from other places:

• Calmac Ferry, Mallaig – the main ferry to the island

• Shearwater, Arisaig – Small Isles ferry and boat trips (summer)

• Bella Jane, Elgol – boat trips from Skye

• Aquaexplore, Elgol – wildlife sightseeing boat trips from Skye

By car

From Fort William take the A830 to Mallaig.

From Skye the Mallaig car ferry leaves from Armadale (30-minute crossing).

Cars are not permitted on the island but can be left in Mallaig. There is parking for CalMac passengers in West Bay Car Park, Mallaig.

By public transport

There are regular buses to Mallaig from Inverness, Fort William and Oban.

By rail, Mallaig lies at the end of the West Highland Line, departing from Fort William. Or take a trip back in time on the Jacobite Steam Train during the summer.


Rum National Nature Reserve
Click for a full description

CalMac ferry from Mallaig (Tel: 01687 310240 or visit Sheerwater Cruises of Arisaig regularly visit the island (Tel: 01687 450224 or visit as well as other charter hire companies from other destinations.


For visitors

Visit Rum is a good introduction to the reserve.


There are two public toilets at the village campsite – a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal.

The village hall also has toilets – a 25-minute walk from the ferry terminal.

Wildlife hide

The otter hide is a short walk (1.5 kilometres) through the woods to the south of the main pier.

Trails for all

The Isle of Rum is a paradise for hillwalkers and mountaineers alike. Whether you’re here for a few hours or a few days, there are walks to suit all abilities. Find information on walks and other activities on the island.

Seasonal interest

Rum is open all year, and there’s always something to see. The geology and spectacular scenery can be enjoyed all year round.  Spring to autumn are best for wildlife.


Spring sees the return of summer breeding birds, with over 90 species recorded nesting from the cliffs to the mountain tops. Golden eagles and white-tailed eagles start to set out their territories. Twite, skylark and golden plover nest alongside the UKs smallest bird of prey, the merlin. The vegetation on the island springs into life, and from a distance the island transforms to vivid green.


Red deer are now resplendent in their summer coats and the lochs echo to the haunting cries of the red-throated divers. Vast rafts of Manx shearwater gather offshore. You can hear their strange squeaky calls as they return to the island at dusk.  Over 2,000 species of invertebrate have been recorded on Rum, including 19 species of butterfly and 11 species of dragonfly.


Colours change from the deep green of summer to the golden brown of autumn as heather and grasses die back. This is also the time of the red deer rut, with the roar of stags resounding across the island as they battle for their harems of hinds.


The quiet of winter is a time for taking stock between the battering of wild winter storms. The deer are very visible in the bleak landscape. Wild goats with kids can be seen on the west side of the island. The low sun casts beautiful light on the dramatic mountains and lochs.