Excerpt from BBC
From the summit of Ben More, above the landslips and cliffs of Loch na Keal, the Isle of Mull’s complex coastal geography becomes clearer.
To the south-west, across a sheltered Atlantic sound, lies the holy isle of Iona, where Irish missionary St Columba sailed in 563 AD to bring the Christian faith to the pagan Scots. To the immediate north-west lies a strew of islets, including Little Colonsay, an inspiration for the children’s book and film series How to Train Your Dragon; and Gometra, a cove-nibbled clump owned by a millionaire environmentalist. Next to that, crumpled between land and sea, is a forgotten nook that has an even more extraordinary story waiting to be told.
Almost lost in the fold of the map, Ulva is Scotland’s Inner Hebrides at its most enigmatic. Ordinarily, travellers to this part of the Argyll region would seek to hike, birdwatch or join a whale watching safari, scanning the murky Atlantic for some 19 cetacean species that patrol the waters. But Ulva offers something very different.
Here there are no cars, no shops, no tours, no postcards nor cheery guides. Instead, the rewards are closeness to nature and longed-for notions of freedom and space. Rugged heathlands burst with floral heather; deer-filled forests cluster on the eastern shore; and what was once home to 604 people is now a time capsule of forgotten island life. It is all but empty, inhabited by ghosts and creaking with history.
And yet, over the past few years, Ulva has begun to evolve.
In 2018, rather than face extinction, the six-strong Ulva community in partnership with the North West Mull Community Woodland Company took matters into their own hands, shaping a successful community buy-out. That followed a late bid, backed by the devolved government’s Scottish Land Fund (which supports communities to become more sustainable through land ownership) to pay £4.4m towards the purchase from a private landowner.
Island Innovation is a social enterprise and digital media company at the intersection of sustainable development and communications, offering specialised services across various sectors. We bring together the private sector, government, utilities, NGOs and universities to advance innovation for sustainability and prosperity in islands worldwide.