Wanted: a family to join the diminishing inhabitants of Muck

Clearing the population of Muck, the smallest of the Scottish Small Isles, was painfully straightforward. In 1828, the local clan leader loaded 150 people aboard a ship and took them to start new lives in the uncharted wilds of Nova Scotia. Rebuilding a sustainable community, by contrast, has proved a much more arduous process.

Muck, which in recent years has witnessed something of a population explosion, swelling its numbers to 35, is seeking a family or a couple planning to have children to help safeguard its long term future.

The call has gone out following the decision of a family of five to relocate to the Scottish mainland, prompting fears that numbers at the island's primary school, which currently boasts a roll of just eight, could fall too low. Catherine Murray John, 43, said it would be a "huge wrench" to leave the island next month after six years, but she had decided to do so after the second of her four children had reached secondary school age, requiring them to study on the mainland.

"I absolutely love the place. It has been a part of my life. The children have had a unique opportunity to grow up here, in a special place," she said.

Ms Murray John admitted island life was "not everyone's cup of tea" but that for those prepared to get involved in their local community, there were plenty of rewards. One of these would be a three-bedroom cottage on a wooded hillside overlooking the neighbouring isles of Rum and Skye, which had become available for rent.

Colin MacEwen, 29, whose family has owned the island since 1896, said it was still a "fragile community". Though there are part time jobs, mainly in farming, fishing and tourism, the islanders are looking for a self-starter.

"What we are hoping for is to try and find a family with ideas about starting a business or with a business they can pursue.

"We would try our best to help them with anything we can to make that possible," said Mr MacEwen. Anyone applying from a British town or city would have to be prepared for a major change in lifestyle, even though numbers on Muck are at a 60-year high and a new community centre is being built.

A passenger ferry runs from Mallaig on the mainland four days a week in summer and three days a week in winter. However, the island, just two miles long and one mile wide, boasts a wealth of natural wonders. There are 40 species of bird, Grey Atlantic seals, porpoises, minke whales and basking sharks brought here by the relatively benign waters of the Gulf Stream.

Despite a scuffle at a recent wedding on the island, there has been no crime for 50 years – not since 1960, when an estate worker stole two bottles of wine.

Toby Fichtner, 27, who runs the Port Mor House Hotel, which doubles as Muck's only pub, said there was a healthy mix of established families and new arrivals. "It's great fun, we have lived here for four years and really enjoy it. But it can be quite tricky to find suitable people. The place is gorgeous in the summer... but in the depths of winter, when the rain is horizontal and there are six hours of daylight, it doesn't suit everybody."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...