This Man Lived as a Hermit for Two Decades

For almost two decades, Ken Smith has been successfully avoiding conventional life, without any running water or electricity.

He lives in a handmade log cabin at a remote loch in the Scottish Highlands. He says his life is nice and notes how many people wish to do it, but no one ever does.

People are divided on Ken’s isolated and reclusive lifestyle comprised of fishing, foraging, collecting firewood, and cleaning clothes in a bath outdoors.

Smith, who’s stepping into the eighth decade of his life, walks two hours from the nearest road on the edge of Rannoch Moor by Loch Treig to get to his cabin.

Smith Has Lived Like this for Two Decades

Smith notes that people know his cabin as the lonely loch. There’s no road, but there’s a dam that was built by people who used to live here.

His unusual life story reached TV. Filmmaker Lizzie McKennie contacted Smith nine years ago and filmed the documentary for BBC Scotland, The Hermit of Treig for the past two years.

Born in Derbyshire, Smith claims he started working when he was just 15 and built fire stations. However, his life changed drastically when he was 26. He was beaten up by thugs after a night out. This left him with a brain hemorrhage and he was in a coma for 23 days.

According to Smith, his doctors thought he would never recover and regain his speech ability or be able to walk again. This was the turning point in his life. He decided to stop living on other people’s terms and decided to follow his own.

Smith Develops a Unique Love for the Wilderness

Smith started to travel more and his interest in the wilderness grew. One time, while in the Yukon, a Canadian territory that borders Alaska, he was curious what would happen if he walked off the highway and just walked deeper into the wild.

He walked 22,000 miles before eventually going back home. At this period in the wild, his parents had died and Smith learned this when he came back. He explained that it took him some time to feel something.

Their loss hit him hard as he was walking the length of Britain, at the Rannoch in the Scottish Highlands. He cried all the way while walking. He liked the nothingness and the woodland and decided that this will become his home.

Smith Builds His Home from Scratch

Once he found the place, he started to work on building his cabin. Four decades later, the cabin is still there but has no gas, electricity, or running water. There’s no phone signal either. He had to chop firewood in the forest and take it back to the shelter.

He eats mostly fish and veggies he grows himself. He also forages for berries in the forest.

10 days after the film director left Smith’s cabin and finished the shooting, around February 2019, Smith suffered a stroke while he was outside in the snow.

He triggered an SOS through a GPS locator beacon which he was given a while back. This sent a signal at the Houston, Texas response center. The UK coastguard was informed and they airlifted Smith to a hospital. He was there for seven days recovering.

The doctors advised him to move back to civilization where he could have proper care and a suitable apartment. However, Smith wanted nothing else but his cabin.

Still, he suffered a double vision after the stroke and experienced memory loss so he had to agree to some help. The estate’s head stalker looks after the forest where Smith lives and brought him food every few weeks and Smith pays for it from his pension.

After a year, Smith had to be transported to the hospital again after an injury from a log pile that collapsed on him. Smith doesn’t worry about the future and notes that no one is permanent on the Earth. He wants to be here until his final days.