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Escape to a Scottish island: 6 jobs for stressed-out city dwellers

Tobermory, Mull.
Tobermory in Mull.

Are you in search of a new way of life?

We’ve compiled a list of six island jobs around the west coast and in the Northern Isles that may just tempt you away from mainland living.

From a peatland officer in Shetland, to a ranger on an uninhabited island or a whisky guide on Mull, if you are looking for a new challenge – we might have found the job for you.

After the Covid pandemic, a return to the office and price hikes on every front – many people are looking for a way to simplify their lives.

Be a whisky and gin guide in Tobermory

Brendan McCarron, master distiller, at Tobermory distillery.

First up, is working in a distillery in Tobermory on Mull.

Tobermory Distillery makes unforgettable whisky and gin. The visitor centre at Ledaig welcomes people from across the world, and it is looking for a guide.

The job is part time, so it will allow you to explore this beautiful island. Or take on another job in one of the island’s award winning restaurants, such as Cafe Fish.

The job involves warmly welcoming guests to providing expert information and storytelling about the island, artisan distillery, whisky and gin making.

The job advert says: “We’re looking for enthusiastic and friendly individuals who are passionate about whisky, gin, Tobermory and Scotland.

“Experience in a hospitality or retail environment would be ideal. A genuine desire to deliver warm hospitality and high quality customer service in a very busy retail environment is essential.”

Be a gardener on Iona

Isle of Iona.

The Argyll Hotel on Iona is looking for an organic head gardener and gardening assistant.

Iona has more sheep and rare birds than people, but it might be the place on the edge of the Atlantic for you.

The 17-bed hotel is renowned for great food and outstanding organic produce from its garden.

The owners, of the 17-bed hotel, are appealing to applicants who care about the environment. But warns: “As the hotel is on an island off an island (ie Iona to Mull to Oban) it is remote, so if you need a varied social life and entertainments this location is not for you.

“A trip to the mainland takes almost three hours each way. However, we can offer a great working environment in a close knit team.”

Help save the peatlands in Shetland

St Ninian’s Isle. Shetland. Supplied by Northlink Ferries.

If you want to help the battle against peatland decline, then an action officer post in Shetland might be for you.

Shetland Amenity Trust is seeking to appoint an experienced individual. They will work with landowners and partner organisations to deliver restoration projects across Shetland.

NatureScot’s Peatland ACTION programme restores damaged peatlands in Scotland.

It is integral to the Scottish Government’s determination for peatland to store carbon and contribute wider benefits for biodiversity, water management and green recovery.

The post pays £32,803 and is based in Lerwick with travel throughout Shetland.

Be a ranger on an uninhabited island

A boat trip to Staffa.

Staffa, with its basalt rock formations, was popularised in Mendelsohn’s Hebridean overture. Its world famous sea cave, Fingal’s Cave, is famed for its natural acoustics.

While it might welcome hundreds of visitors by boat each day, the island has remained largely unpopulated since the 1700s.

It is one of the Treshnish Isles along with Bac Mor also known as The Dutchman’s Cap, Lunga, Geometra, Bac Beag, Sgeir a’ Chaisteil, Sgeir an Eirionnaich, Fladda,
Cairn Bhuirg Mòr and Cairn na Burgh Beag.

It is now home to seabirds, and is a breeding ground for puffins, and rabbits.

The National Trust (NTS) wants to employ a ranger to work on the island to be the face of the charity during the busy summer months.

While they won’t be able to take up residence on the island, there will be no commuting costs.

The successful candidate will go over to the island from either Mull or Iona on the first tourist boat of the day.

Be a part of the world’s largest stoat eradication programme on Orkney

A view over the Orkney mainland.

Orkney is famous for its landscape, its history, its culture and its wildlife.

But among all its beauty is a critter that does appreciate all the beauty – the stoat. A deadly invasive species, possibly on par with the Vikings.

The Orkney Native Wildlife Project (ONWP) aims to safeguard the unique and internationally important native wildlife of Orkney.

It wants to safeguard the benefits it provides for local people and the economy. It will do this by addressing the threat it faces from the invasive non-native predator.

Stoats were first reported in Orkney in 2010 and their presence threatens the Orkney vole. The vole is found nowhere else in the world. Many birds are also threatened including hen harriers, short-eared owls, red-throated divers, waders and seabirds.

Many of these birds support Orkney’s thriving wildlife tourism industry.

It is therefore essential to remove stoats from Orkney to prevent significant and long-term negative impacts on Orkney’s native wildlife and ensure future generations can continue to enjoy it.

The job is as a trapper team leader, and as well as capturing the stoat, there is a conservation and training aspect of the post.

It pays up to £28,000 a year, and the job is for two years.

Be a boatman or woman for the season

The world famous beaches of Luskentyre in Harris, Outer Hebrides with Taransay in the distance. Picture by Sandy McCook.

An estate on the Isle of Harris is looking for a boatman.

The job at the Borve Lodge Estate is said to be a “unique opportunity” to live and work on the privately owned land.

Borve Lodge was built as a sporting lodge around 1868 by Charles Adolphus Murray, 7th Earl of Dunmore. He built it as an aristocratic destination for shooting and fishing on the rugged west coast of South Harris.

The word “Borve” means a fortress, and the ruins of a bronze age fortress or “duin” are within a few hundred yards of Borve Lodge.

Following a golden era under the ownership of tycoon Lord Leverhulme between 1919 and 1926 the lodge suffered from years of underinvestment.

The lodge underwent substantial renovations after it was purchased in 1985 by Dr. David Horrobin. He was a lipid scientist and entrepreneur. He died in 2003.

The estate was purchased by its present owners, Adam and Cathra Kelliher, in 2008. Mrs Kelliher is the daughter of Dr Horrobin.

In 2011, the Kellihers purchased the Isle of Taransay, which lies just a few miles off the estate’s coastline.

Working on the three marine vessels, the applicant should be qualified to RYA Coastal Skipper or working towards the qualifications.

While the hours are 9am-5pm Monday to Friday – the advert says some flexibility will be required.


Instead of uprooting your life, maybe you could venture into the city for a nice breakfast instead.

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