Chances are you have experienced a time in your life when you just wanted to leave everything behind and run away. Fashioning ourselves like the childhood heroes who would survive off of nature, we too would live like that, as far away from civilization as possible. We wished to live our lives quietly in the embrace of nature and forget about the constant buzzing of technology. But, doing that is easier said than done – well, for most of us.
For Ken Smith, it is his reality. Deep inside the Scottish Highlands, in a clearing beside a loch, sits his simple cabin made of logs. Entirely constructed by hand, it only has a corrugated iron roof. Rocks are used to make paths and it also has a patio. Smith also has a garden when he grows flowers and vegetables.
Ken Smith, also called the “Hermit of Treig”, has been living in that cabin, all alone for the past 4 decades. His lifestyle has been deemed interesting enough to be a documentary. Lizzie Mackenzie, a Scottish director, covered his hermit lifestyle over a period of 2 years.
Why Did Ken Choose This Lifestyle?
In the documentary, Ken talks in length about what drove him to live like a hermit. At first, he said, that it was a way by which he processed the tremendous trauma and grief that had befallen his younger self.
In October of 1974, Ken experienced his first major trauma. He was only 26 at the time. One night, some thugs attacked him and left him barely clinging to life. He remembers how 8 thugs had kicked him in his head and then threw him through a window. It caused a hemorrhage in his brain which left him comatose. He remained comatose for over 3 weeks.
Doctors said that Ken would never be back to normal. They said that he would lose his ability to speak or walk. But not only did Ken come back, but he also recovered completely. Today, he has 5 scars on his head that are a permanent marker of life-saving operations.
This made Smith give up on his normal routine life and begin traveling. He became enthralled with the wilderness. For the next 2 years, he simply followed his feet. Then, after covering about 22,000 miles, he turned homewards. But another tragic news awaited him at home.
When he landed at Heathrow airport, he got to know that both of his parents had passed away. So, Ken was basically left without a home. To deal with the grief, he started walking again, this time across Britain. At Rannoch Moor, Ken suddenly remembered his parents and the tears could not be stopped.
As he cried, he started thinking about a place where he could be as isolated as possible in Britain. During that search, he found Loch Teig and his current abode. Take a look at a teaser for his documentary:
Life As A Modern Day Hermit
Since 1984, Ken has been living here. After living here for so long, the place has become like a modest haven for him. He gets his firewood for general heating purposes, sap that he uses to make hooch, and an entirely environmentally friendly waste system.
In his log, there is a small collection of books that he found in charity shops. He has a head torch that lets him read even in the darkness of winter. Every month, he makes a 3-hour hike to Corrour railway station and gets several weeks’ worth of medical supplies and provisions.
Ken’s main connection to the rest of the world is some radios that only play the local station. Of course, there is no phone and Ken calmly says he never needs nor wants that. Ken’s life is a veritable time capsule.
As romantic Ken’s life may seem, his old age has become a problem. In 2019, he suffered a stroke and had to be airlifted to a hospital. It also meant that Ken had to receive too much help for his liking. But he knows it’s a reality that he cannot escape. Yet, the hermit of Treig hopes to live till 102 and pass away peacefully at his log cabin.
Feature Image Credit: KEN SMITH