The Hermit of Treig

The Hermit of Treig is a documentary about Ken Smith, who has lived for the past 40 years by himself in a log cabin of his own making on the hill overlooking Loch Treig. Now in his 70s, he must reckon with how his way of life will shape his end days.

Originally from Derbyshire, he lived much the same as anybody until he was in his mid-20s, when he was the victim of a random, violent attack which almost killed him. He was left comatose with bleeding on the brain. When he awoke, he was told he would never walk or talk again.

He’s a man of some spirit, because he kept at until he did walk and talk again, and it left him with a determination to live life on his own terms. A great lover of the outdoors and very physically active, he travelled to Canada and, almost on a whim, decided to make his way on foot through the forests of the Yukon. When he hit the sea, he decided to return to the UK, and make his home in the most remote place possible. Obviously Scotland was the place for that, up by Loch Treig. He made his own log cabin by hand and has lived there ever since.

How he lives is pretty incredible. There’s no electricity, no gas central heating, no running water. He chops wood and carries it in a sack on his shoulders back to the house for burning, despite now being over 70 years old. He fishes, and grows his own fruit and veg in a garden next to the house. He is also very knowledgeable about which of the local flora is edible.

It’s a life living in simplicity. And with an appreciation for nature.

But time fucks us all. Ken has a stroke one day, and was found lying outside in the snow. He had to be airlifted to the hospital. Since the stroke he has trouble with his memory, some numbness in one arm, and vision problems if he moves around too quickly. It brings home to Ken, that he must make his preparations for the end.

A meditation on mortality and an examination of what is a life well-lived. Fascinating film.