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Oatridge Students in Rum Deal

Published Wednesday, 18th June 2014 in Study at SRUC news

Student Group in Mallaig on way to Rum

Students from the Oatridge Campus of Scotland’s Rural College recently spent five days on the Isle of Rum during their annual study tour.

The Countryside and Environment students switched Broxburn for the “Forbidden Isle” and had an enjoyable and productive time.

The Inner Hebridean island earned its inhospitable nickname from a time when it was in private ownership and only guests and workers were welcome to indulge in shooting and other sporting pursuits. Today Rum is in the hands of a local community trust and conservation body Scottish National Heritage (SNH) with a variety of accommodation on offer. 

The SRUC group was billeted at the local hostel – a comfortable establishment built to take visitors while the traditional hostel at Kinloch Castle is being refurbished. The students were treated to a guided tour of the castle and saw for themselves the opulence that the former landlords enjoyed.

The students took the five mile walk across the island to the old township of Kilmory where they were able to see at first hand the long-running deer research project made famous by BBC’s Autumnwatch programme. The research is carried out by University of Edinburgh and Martyn Baker, the field officer there, was on hand to give an excellent account of the current work being done.

The Oatridge students also came face to face with two of the deer the BBC programme had made into stars. They were introduced to Caesar and Maximus - not the deer themselves, but the skulls and antlers which are part of the range of artifacts preserved for posterity on the site. The nine students and two staff had a unique chance to help out with the project by fanning out across the hillside to help Martyn locate three missing hind corpses which were then post-mortemed on the hill to add to the research data they collect and catalogue.

As part of the trip the whole group had been completing their John Muir Discovery Award. Part of the criteria for the Award is the discovery and exploration of “wild land” – something they could easily achieve on this remote island. They spent time walking up to the geologically infamous Coire Dubh – the black hollow – a great example of Scotland’s volcanic heritage. As part of the Award, they also helped the local ranger remove rhododendrons from outside the SNH offices on the island. These shrubs were originally established as ornamental plants but can cause problems when they take over and smother more natural native species.

In addition to their time on Rum the party took the opportunity to visit Mallaig on the mainland and the islands of Canna, Muck and Eigg. It involved a very enjoyable spell of island hopping on the way back.

More information on the study tour is available from Ian Lewis at SRUC Oatridge.

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