Kinloch river runs along the bottom of Croft 3. One of the many wee burns and falls that feeds into it runs down the side of Croft 3, infact that is where our water comes from. The many ditches, drains and culverts that take (some of) the water off of Croft 3 all feed into the river. The river then runs just under a mile to Loch Scresort, the sea loch which forms Kinloch bay around which Kinloch Village on Rum sits before meeting the sea.
The river is part of our daily lives. I have walked along the section between our croft and the village hundreds and hundreds of times and it is different with every walk. The speed of the current, the height of the water, the width of the river all depend on various factors – rainfall, what the tide is doing on the beach, what the weather has been like for the last week, day, hour. What the weather is like elsewhere, higher up on Rum. Melting snow from the peaks can create a sudden rush, as can a cloud burst up on higher ground even if it is fine down beside our stretch of the river. I have heard the pitch change as it suddenly runs faster on more than one occasion. It can change within a single day from bursting its banks to a stream you could paddle in. It is the most mercurial body of water I have ever known.
We cross the river on foot by a small bridge which sometimes has an angry flood of water running so close it almost flows over it – I have heard tell of times when the river goes over the bridge but have yet to see it for myself. When it is running low we can drive the car across at another point called a ford. That is where we took the static across. Sometimes you can wade across in wellies, at other times I wouldn’t go anywhere near the riverbank for fear of being washed away. The ducks and geese spend hours every day on the river, we wash Bonnie in it when she is muddy, once the pigs went down in the height of summer for a paddle. Davies and particularly Scarlett spend hours playing beside it and in it. I have floated found chicken eggs in shallow places to test their freshness, rinsed out muddy clothes, washed my hands, collected water for crops in the polytunnel.
The deer drink from the river and perform graceful leaps across it when spooked by us walking along. Herons fish along the banks, I saw a cormorant on the river once. Dippers breed, nest and rear their young. Scarlett has caught tiny fish, others have caught dinner. I’ve yet to see an otter anywhere on Rum but I am told they lurk along it’s banks.
On a sunny day diamond sparkles splash as it gently trickles along, clear and clean and lazy. Other times it is a raging torent, angry, brown and frothing, carrying ripped branches, rocks and anything else that gets in it’s way. In spring it is flanked by yellow broom and gorse blooms and the green of fresh new leaves and shoots, in summer there are creamy elderflowers and wild roses, in autumn purple heathers, shiny red rowanberries and the golden oranges and reds of falling leaves. In winter all is grey, stark, colour all washed out.
The river seems to know my mood, to echo my emotions and play a suitable song as I walk alongside it each day. It is at turns cross and raging, filled with promise and hope, lazy and meandering, rushing to fit everything in. I used to think I’d love to live by the sea, to have ocean views from my windows and the sound of the tide as a background song to my days. Now I can’t imagine anything other than this river.