Lockdown persuaded the Barley family to uproot from the city and make their dream move to start a new life on an island hundreds of miles away.
Next month, they will travel from Ely in Cambridgeshire to set up home on Rum as part of a new influx of residents to swell the 22-strong population.
They are one of four families who beat international competition to secure four houses which were offered to rent.
Thousands of inquiries came in from as far away as the US, India, Africa and Australia and more than 400 applications were received.
The homes on the edge of Kinloch, the island’s only village, were made available by the Isle of Rum Community Trust to attract new blood.
Only six children live on the island and there is just one child in the nursery and two in the primary school.
The new families will bring another eight adults and six children, all aged under eight.
Matthew and Rebecca Barley and their children Katie, 5, and Poppy, 1, will be making their first trip to the island.
From their city life, Mr Barley, 32, who lost his job during lockdown, and his wife, 28, a quality management implementation consultant, plan to start a smallholding and become largely self-sufficient.
Mrs Barley said: “We have always dreamt about just getting away somewhere quiet.
“When we saw the opportunity for Rum come up we had many long discussions about it but what we landed on was we didn’t want to ever look back and wonder ‘what if’.”
She said they had concerns about leaving family and friends, but staying in touch using Zoom during the pandemic persuaded them they could make the move.
“I think that if it wasn’t for lockdown we wouldn’t have done this.
“We used to see our parents almost every weekend, see our friends and family all the time and the thought of moving far away and not being able to do that wouldn’t have occurred to us.
“But then lockdown happened and, in a way, we saw more of them.
“It showed us actually we don’t need to be there in person and gave us that confidence boost that we can do this.
Mrs Barley said being a young family who are keen on the outdoors and want to be self-sufficient helped their application.
“We also plan to get as involved in the community, with the school and also with the trust, to help anyway we can,” she added.
Trust development officer Steve Robertson said the process had been “a great success”.
“It was a phenomenal amount of work because there were so many applications – and all we needed was four,” he said.
“But it’s brilliant for the population generally and provides longevity for the school.”
He said a vacant house will soon be available for rent, while house plots will be offered for sale.
“We know there are another 436 families out there who want to move here which shows there is massive demand,” he said.
“We will capitalise on the work we’ve done and see if we can get more people to come to live here.”
Mrs Barley will continue to work from home while her husband will look for work on the island and the family are looking forward to different aspects of island life.
She said: “Seeing dolphins, the clear skies for stargazing, the history in the buildings and deserted settlements and the general wildlife. The peace. Being in a smaller community where everyone is willing and ready to help.
“Being outdoors more, and being near the sea. The opportunities for our girls are endless and I can’t wait for all the new adventures.
“Our eldest daughter is in year one in school now and if we didn’t do it now, and make the change, then it wouldn’t be fair on her when she was older and settled with more friends and learning and exams to make such a lifestyle change. It was now or never.”
“Distance doesn’t cut us off because technology is there to bridge the gap and in many ways it will be more social than life here.
“On our street I couldn’t actually name another resident, but on the island it won’t be like that.
“Everyone talks – and not just to say hello but to actually have a proper conversation.
“The community there already seems like an island family.”
‘Living on the doorstep of the natural world’
Alex Mumford and Elizabeth Cracknell set off today from Bristol on the marathon journey to join their new neighbours on Rum.
The couple will track their new life on the island on their blog at housebythestream.wordpress.com.
Mr Mumford, 31, a childcare facilities manager, said he and Ms Cracknell, 29, who works in marketing, have never visited the island and knew little of Rum before applying to live there.
But they are looking forward to “living on the doorstep to the natural world” and enjoying the island’s community spirit.
Mr Munford said: “We want to leave city life and find a more simple existence surrounded by nature and be part of a real small-knit community.
“It still hasn’t hit home, but we are very excited about what the future holds.
“We actually watched a TV show about life on a croft in Rum and remember thinking we would love to live somewhere like that.
“Little did we know we would actually get the chance to live there.”
He plans to work at the school and Ms Cracknell will continue remote working, while they have ideas relating to their interest in crafts, baking and cooking.
“We are both very outdoorsy people with a passion for rural life and community – something missing in Bristol,” he said.
“Our personalities match perfectly to this opportunity, alongside our professional skills which we hope will benefit the community to help it grow and prosper.”