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Seeking Off-the-Beaten-Path Scotland? Ulva's Your Answer

Here's a nice article about the island of Ulva, right off the coast of Mull in Scotland. It was almost totally depopulated but is now undergoing a bit of a resurgence after a local group got funding to buy the land (I think the entire island) from the previous owner. You have to be prepared to rough it at the moment: There are no hotels, just a couple of shelters a 2-hour walk from the coast. But, hey, at least you won't be paying 200 pounds a night for a tiny room!

Posted by
5518 posts

Wow, the buyout cost £4.4 million, and it’s been over 60 years since the last full-time resident (Sheila), but in the 3 years prior to the Pandemic, the island had gone from 4,000 to 7,000 visitors. So it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch that the island could become a big destination. They want 50 self-supporting residents, and 500 people from 2 dozen countries have expressed interest. Might be sooner rather than later that Ulva is on the beaten path.

Posted by
171 posts

My wife, daughter and I and my wife’s family spent a week on Mull in 2002. We went to Ulva one morning. I remember the pontoon ferry and a small church. I don’t remember any other buildings. Nice walk thru the woods. We did not see any other people while we were there except the ferry operator. Kind of out the way for tourists back then. Maybe it has developed more since then. Mull was a great place to spend a week. We rented a house near Dervaig(sp). Nice pub nearby!!

Posted by
941 posts

I visited Ulva in 2018. I think that the ferry cost around five pounds - could have been more. We did a good bit of hiking - visited the church and Sheila's Cottage. Would have liked to have made it as far as Gometra, but we ended up going off in an opposite direction. We bought some food at The Boathouse, and ate at the picnic tables outside while we waited for the ferry to take us back to Mull.

The ferry is interesting. If you're on the Mull side, and the ferry is out at Ulva, you have to slide the signal panel so that it shows red. That's the ferryman's signal to come back for you.

For anyone who's interested in visiting Ulva, I highly recommend reading Thomas Campbell's epic poem, "Lord Ullin's Daughter." It was published in 1809, although apparently composed earlier.

The one problem with these frequent travel articles is that it brings an influx of tourists who merely want to cross things off of their "bucket lists" of places to visit. In the case of Ulva, I hope that it doesn't become overrun, because it's a very special place.

From our visit, we discovered that the only public toilets are in The Boathouse and the church. We were very thankful for both!

Mike (Auchterless)

p.s.: Carbisdale Castle is up for sale, if any of our readers have a cool 1.5 million pounds.