A news article this week about the Isle of Ulva and the community fight to stop its purchase brought back memories of a day out. Staying on the Isle of Mull a small ferry to the Isle of Ulva was discovered. Having never heard of it we decided that it was worth a visit. It is a rare day when an unknown island is there to visit. Driving to the ferry involved winding lanes, getting gradually more narrow and remote before arriving at a car park and views across to Ulva. Calling the ferry was simple – from the slipway you uncover the red sign which shows the ferry it is required. As it approaches you cover it over ready for the next passengers. The ferry ride is a short hop over the Sound of Ulva and brings you in right by the Boathouse tea room and Sheila’s Cottage. We managed to avoid the lure of the tea rooms but promised ourselves a visit before heading back.
Sheila’s Cottage and the Paths
Sheila’s Cottage is a traditional croft cottage which has been reconstructed and is now an insight into how the crofter’s lived on the island. There is also a heritage display showing how the island has evolved over time. The cottage was dark and the mind was drawn to the past and the harsh life of the crofters on this remote and isolated island. The big draw of the island for us was the walking and so we headed of to explore the island. The signage is clear and once we had worked out the distance and time ratio we were sorted for the day. There were some good routes around the island with clear instructions. We followed the shore and woodland walk to start with and then looped back to pick up the Ormaig and Kilvekewen walk, although ran out of steam just after Ormaig.
Church and Minister’s Path
We headed off towards the church, nestled on the edge of the woods. It was a calm location, in a dip of the hills. Tall trees surrounded the church from the moorland beyond. A stupid decision was made to cut through the woods and attempt to find the main path at Gometra via the Minister’s Path. This started off well but then the bracken got higher and higher until all that was visible was the little one on his dad’s shoulders, striding on ahead. We didn’t realise it at the time, but this little escapade ended up with a later hospital visit to have a tick removed from the inside of a small boys eyelid – so much for a safe holiday in the UK. After we had tackled the bracken we decided that it would be easier to stay on the main track and headed towards Ormaig village.
All that remains of the village are the walls of the cottages, but an impression of the exposed and basic life that the crofter’s lived can still be felt in the ruins that stand on the southern coast of the island. As well as the ruined buildings we found the remains of sheep, evidence of quite how harsh this landscape can be. The village stands on the top of a gently sloping cliff, reaching down to the rocky shoreline with little islets dotted over the shallow bay.
Return to the Ferry
After a little debate we decided that this was our point to return to the ferry, given the pace we had managed and the distance covered! Small legs struggled with the return walk and even the amazing landscape could not persuade him to keep going. On the last part of the walk we headed into the woods and this involved sticks and things to hit and enthusiasm returned for everyone. The lure of a coffee at the Boathouse cooled adult nerves and I discovered toadstools dotted through the woodland just asking to be photographed.
The walk through the woodland was calm and peaceful apart from the stick bashing of a three-year old (yes we did make him walk all that way in one day!), a 7-year-old who wanted cake and a time limit to get back for the last ferry which was creeping ever closer.
We did make it back in time for coffee and cake and the last ferry, although we could have quite easily have stayed longer. While we were on the island it didn’t cross our minds that someone owned this magical escape, but we are glad they do and hope that they continue to allow others to explore it and have a magical day like we did.
Geocaching on the Isle of Ulva
Ulva has a great range of caches to choose from. On our short route we managed to collect 7 caches on the island with just the furthest three being beyond the distance of short legs in one day.
Waiting for the ferry GC33PCE
Ulva: Keeping Sheila company GC27YHC
Ulva: The Church GC27YMC
Ulva: End of the Minister’s Road GC27YKX
Ulva: On Gometra Road GC281KQ
Ulva: Croft ruins GC281M7
Ulva: Bernus Bay GC281MM
Ulva: Gometra Bridge GC281NE
Ulva: Ormaig GC27YKC
Ulva: Standing Stone GC27YJX
Ulva: The Old Farm GC27YJ6