View from close to the ferry slipway on Ulva

Island News

October 2017

New years day sunrise from Ulva ferry 2017 ©Kiloran Howard

Winter sunrise, Ulva ferry, Jan’17

Jamie Howard and family would like to address some of the recent inaccurate comments expressed locally and in the media, both preceding and subsequent to the community buy-out bid for their much loved and cherished home, the Isle of Ulva.

The decision to market the island has been made with the utmost reluctance, and difficult though that decision has been, our only wish now is that whoever the future owners/custodians turn out to be, this island will continue to be the magical and unspoiled remote Hebridean beauty it is today and that it may remain open to all who wish to visit to explore this unique treasure.


The Howard family has been the privileged custodian of the Isle of Ulva for approximately 70 years. Throughout the last three generations, the Howards have continuously supported the Ulva and Mull communities in making strenuous efforts to try to stem the decline of Ulva’s island population. Over the years, the family has worked continuously and carefully to maintain and to improve the fragile infrastructure of the island without damaging or destroying its wild and wonderful bio-diversity, which is rarely found today, and of which it is immensely proud.

Particularly during the last 30 years, the family has initiated and put in place multiple schemes to increase the number of residents and to open the island to visitors:

  • The renovation of houses and the church (several of which are Listed)
  • The building of a freshwater system
  • The installation of solar panels
  • The restoration of Sheila’s Cottage (a thatched croft in which visitors can see displays of the island’s heritage)
  • Repair and upkeep of the boat piers and slipways
  • Provision and subsidising of the ferry boat
  • The purchase of a new barge to help transport goods and livestock between Mull and Ulva
  • The establishment of the Boathouse Restaurant & Café
  • Creation of 5 signposted walks
  • The introduction and planting of a native woodland scheme and the opening up of Ulva to education and research projects

Special services in the church have also been organized throughout the year (when the weather has permitted access) and support given to the local primary school on Mull. However, the revenue which comes into Ulva is far outweighed by expenditure on it, and regrettably this is an unsustainable financial situation.

See timeline of Howard family achievements on Ulva here

These projects have undoubtedly increased visitor numbers but failed to halt the decline in the resident population. The special and difficult challenges of living on a small, remote island with rough roads and limited housing stock appeal to few. As it is today, Ulva residents number no more than four adults (which includes Jamie Howard) and two children. Would-be residents tend to come for a short while but then leave, unable to come to terms with the demands of living on a remote small island that, in addition, lies off the larger island of Mull.

In spite of the Howard family’s significant expenditure over the last 30 years to support the needs of the island and its small community, considerable further tranches of money are required merely to maintain the status quo, let alone for investment in future sustainable development.


Current Situation
The Howard family continue its long-running support for the community and the excellent relationship that has been created over many years. Sadly the ongoing costs required to maintain Ulva cannot be sustained by the family indefinitely. There are few or no grants available to private individuals for such things. The impossibility of continuing in this vein, and recent family bereavements, have propelled the decision to put the island on the market.

Jamie Howard will continue his support of this community for the near future and wishes the North West Mull Community Woodland Company well in its bid to raise the funds necessary to purchase and to develop Ulva sympathetically and sustainably, and hopes the legislative process will be as smooth a process as possible for all concerned. Whether the ultimate custodianship of this lovely place is achieved through a private sale or through the public purse is still to be decided, but whoever it is, it is the wish of this family to hand the torch over so that Ulva continues to be cherished and valued.

The island will continue to be open to the public through this process and we very much hope visitors will come to Ulva and see why we, the Family, love it so much.


Deer silhouette, Ulva

Deer silhouette, Ulva

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