Monday, March 4, 2024

Ken Smith (AKA ‘The Hermit of Treig’)

Whilst the Miss Havisham-esque eccentric Huguette Clark (1906 – 2011) spent 81 years of her life on her lonesome in spite of being worth £294 million ($400 million, €353 million or درهم1.5 billion), Ken Smith is a recluse of much more modest means.


Unlike the doll doting American who lived out her days in palatial splendour with just staff for company and spoilt heiresses like over-Botoxed birdbrains such as Tamara Ecclestone, 72-year-old Derbyshire born Smith is someone who has been content to have spent around 46 years alone with nature in the Scottish Highlands.


Beaten to a pulp and left with a brain haemorrhage and unconscious for 23 days after a vicious assault by a gang of thugs, this former fire station builder decided that he “would never live on anyone’s terms but my own.” He headed to Yukon – the Canadian territory bordering Alaska – and walked a staggering 22,000 miles before returning home.


Sadly, in his absence, his parents had both died and feeling “nothing,” Ken Smith found solace in walking the length of Britain. In a November 2021 BBC Scotland documentary, he remarked: “I cried all the way while walking… I thought where is the most isolated place in Britain? I went around and followed every bay and every Ben where there wasn’t a house built. Hundreds and hundreds of miles of nothingness. I looked across the loch and saw this woodland.” He has remained there ever since.


To this day, Britain’s ultimate hermit has lived in a log cabin he built himself that includes a log fire, but lacks electricity, gas, running water and any form of communications techologies. He lives off foraged berries, vegetables he grows and fish he catches from Loch Treig – known as “the lonely loch” – and also makes his own wine. At the time of the filming, he had over 70 gallons of hooch on the go.


Speaking of his modest lifestyle, this simple but satisfied sort – who has to complete a 54-mile round trip just to post a letter – added:


“I think if you love the land, it sort of loves you back. It loves you back in all the things it produces for you… Do you think I could live in a house? No, I’d spend most of the time in the pub… They wanted me to move into ‘civilisation’… Well I wasn’t going to have any of that.”


“When I die, instead of everyone moaning and being sad, I want everybody to be merry, getting pissed up on all on my wine… Anybody can come that I know and they’ll know me, so they’ll come.


“I have had lots of incidents and I seem to have survived them all and I know one thing, for sure, no matter what, I am bound to go ill again sometime. Something will happen to me that will take me away one day as it does for everybody else, but I’m hoping that I’ll get to 102.”
Modest to his core Ken Smith is content with living a solitary life in the cabin he built with his own hands in spite of having suffered a stroke and been injured by a pile of logs falling on him. In spite of being offered alternative accommodation in Fort William, he prefers to continue as he has done for four decades thus far. Though, he entertains himself by listening to a radio and keeps a small library of books, he does not have and does not want a mobile telephone device.
Food, fish and foraging
The resourceful Derbyshire born hermit lives mainly off foraged food and fish he catches, but gets up once a month at 4am to hike for three hours to the nearest railway station. He then makes an hour long journey to Fort William to fill his 70-litre rucksack with provisions and medical supplies that last him for the following weeks. He draws sap to make his ‘hooch’ and has also invented a compostable waste system that he calls “the bottomless pit.”

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Matthew Steeples
Matthew Steeples
A graduate of the London School of Economics, Matthew Steeples is a writer and marketing consultant. He conceived The Steeple Times as a media arena to fill the void between the Mail Online, The Huffington Post and such organs as the New York Social Diary in 2012.


  1. Ken Smith…people should take comfort in his strength and competence. I will reread this and have shared it with my city friends as they dash around worrying about what kind of attention they are getting and giving.


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