Image source, AMY MUIR/Glasgow Film Festival

Image caption,

Ken Smith’s extraordinary life has been documented by filmmaker Lizzie MacKenzie

A hermit who has spent 40 years living in isolation in the Scottish Highlands has made a surprise appearance on the red carpet of a film festival.

Ken Smith left his cabin in Lochaber to attend the premiere in Glasgow of a documentary about his life.

The 74-year-old normally lives without electricity or running water beside Loch Treig – the “lonely loch”.

He described Glasgow as a very changed city and added: “I’ve never seen so many people.”

Ken, who is originally from Derbyshire, began a life of wandering after being beaten up during a night out, leaving him unconscious for nearly a fortnight.

While travelling in Canada, he became interested in the wilderness – and on his return, he sought out what he felt was the “most isolated place in Britain” and built himself a log cabin.

His extraordinary story has been told by Lizzie MacKenzie who spent two years filming a documentary for BBC Scotland.

Media caption,

The Hermit of Treig Ken Smith finds sustenance in nature

Ken had to get up at 04:00 so he could make the two-hour walk to the nearest road for his journey to the premiere in Glasgow.

He said he wasn’t nervous – but his first trip away from the Highlands in decades made a big impression on him.

“The last time I was in Glasgow was 30 or 40 years ago – it’s changed so much from what it used to be,” he said.

” I don’t know any of the places or anything like that, in the past I did.

“It’s certainly a different form of life – I’ve never seen so many people. From where I am, where I live I can go weeks and never see anybody and I just carry on with my jobs.”

Image source, Amy Muir/Glasgow Film Festival

Image caption,

Ken had to get up at 04:00 in order to make the long journey to the red carpet in Glasgow

Lizzie first met Ken a decade ago while she was working in a café in the Highlands, after hearing stories from deer stalkers about an old man who lived in the forest.

“I got curious and ended up going to meet Ken and we wrote letters for years and years – and I slowly learned how to make films so I could tell his story,” she said.

She made regular visits with her camera, recording how he lived off the land, facing struggles as he grows older but also enjoying his close relationship with nature.

“The most challenging one was when Ken did his 50-mile or whatever round trip to town and we got up at 03:00 and walked around in the dark.

Image source, Ken Smith

Image caption,

Ken with his log cabin soon after it was built in the mid-1980s

“I was trying to keep up with him with the camera and I struggled to keep up – I thought I was fit until I tried to follow Ken with a camera.”

Over the years they have became friends, and Lizzie was able to help Ken when he needed hospital treatment after a fall.

“She was the one that kept coming in and doing my shopping while I was in hospital. I was quite grateful for that,” he recalled.

The Hermit of Treig will be available online via Glasgow Film at Home from 8 – 11 March and then released in cinemas across the UK from 25 March.