Ulva & Inch Kenneth
*I am in the process of redesigning this section to include notes and many more high-res shots*
I`ve been at Ulva Ferry on Mull which is the departure point for various wildlife cruises but have still to set foot on Ulva just a couple of hundred metres across the narrow strait. Much of Ulva is made up of Cenozoic basalt rocks which has formed columns in places. and is connected to the neighbouring island of Gometra by a bridge.
Ulva is not only a wildlife haven but is steeped in history. It has been populated since the Mesolithic era and there are various Neolithic remains on the island. Very little evidence of the Norse occupation of the island remains apart from its name which is probably from Ulvoy, meaning "wolf island". Celtic culture was a major influence during both Pictish and Dalriadan times as well as the post-Norse period when the islands became part of modern Scotland. During this period Gaelic became the dominant language but this was officially ended by the 19th-century Clearances. At its height Ulva had a population of over 800, but today this has declined to fewer than 10.
Numerous well-known individuals have connections with the island including David Livingstone, Samuel Johnson and Walter Scott, who drew inspiration from Ulva for his 1815 poem, `The Lord of the Isles`. Today there is a regular ferry service and tourism is the mainstay of the economy. In March 2018 the Scottish Land Fund pledged £4.4 million towards a community buyout of the island, and the North West Mull Community Woodland Company took ownership of the island on the 21st June 2018. (to edit)*
Wildlife is abundant: cetaceans are regularly seen in the surrounding waters and over 500 species of plant have been recorded. etc*
Sea Eagle info*
Small and grassy, Inch Kenneth is situated at the entrance of Loch na Keal, to the south of Ulva. It is part of the Loch na Keal National Scenic Area, one of 40 in Scotland. The island is named after St Kenneth, a follower of Saint Columba, who is said to have founded a monastery on the island. I`ve yet to explore but previous visitors include Samuel Johnson and James Boswell who stayed on the island during their tour of the Hebrides in 1773. They were entertained by Sir Allan MacLean, head of the Maclean clan and both Johnson and Boswell published accounts of their visit. In the 1930s the island was owned by Sir Harold Boulton, 2nd Baronet, the writer of the words to the Skye Boat Song and he enlarged an earlier house to make the large mansion which can be seen today.
Inch Kenneth`s most famous owners, however, were the eccentric Mitford family. The six daughters of David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale (1878-1958) and his wife Sydney Bowles (1880-1963) were highly controversial figures because of their political views and activities which attracted a great deal of adverse media attention and shocked the British public. Also known as the Mitford girls, the 6 Mitford sisters were Nancy (1904-1973), Pamela (1907-1994), Diana (1910-2003), Unity (1914-1948), Jessica (1917-1996) and Deborah (1920-2014).
Nancy, the oldest of the sisters, was a very popular novelist and biographer. In comparison to her sisters Pamela didn`t attract much media attention and led a quiet life although she enjoyed travelling, mainly around Europe in her Morris Minor and was one of the first female passengers on a transatlantic commercial flight. She married the outstanding atomic physicist Derek Jackson (1906-1982), a very colourful character, in 1951. Jackson had distinguished himself in WW2, serving in the RAF, and making an important scientific contribution to Britain's air defences and to the bomber offensive. He flew more than a thousand hours as a navigator, many of them in combat in night-fighters. He was decorated with the DFC, AFC and OBE. This war record stands in contrast to his stated desire at the war's inception to keep Britain out of fighting Germany, and his reported desire "that all Jews in England should be killed". Pamela Mitford eventually divorced Jackson and spent the rest of her life with a female companion.
Diana Mitford was at one time rated as one the most hated women in Britain, and apart from alienating the public, her activities also raised concerns with the British authorities, resulting in her imprisonment during World War II, having been deemed a threat to her country. In 1936, Diana had left her wealthy husband Bryan Walter Guinness (1905-1992) for the leader of the British Fascists, Sir Oswald Mosley (1896-1980) (left) whom she married in the same year at the home of Joseph Goebbels in Berlin. She was initially incarcerated at Holloway Prison but later placed under house arrest. Diana and her husband were released after the end of the war and soon thereafter, moved to Paris where they lived out the rest of their days. Neither Diana nor Mosley ever apologised or expressed any regret for their fascist political views and connections with the Nazis including Hitler.
Another Mitford girl who became infamous for her links to Fascism and Nazism was Unity. A passionate admirer of Hitler, she described the day she met the Nazi leader as the most beautiful in her life, and took a pistol and shot herself in the head when Britain declared war on Germany, supposedly unable to bear the thought of the two countries taking up arms against each other. Unity survived the suicide attempt but the bullet remained lodged and she never fully recovered. She died in 1948 from cerebral swelling.
Even though she shared a room with Unity, Jessica or “Decca”, as she was more often called, didn’t share her sister`s fascination with Nazism. On the contrary, she was a committed Communist. When she was only 19, she eloped to Spain with Winston Churchill’s nephew Esmond Romilly (1918-1941) who, just like her, was an avid Communist. Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, they emigrated to the USA but Esmond soon volunteered for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was subsequently killed in action in 1941 and Jessica remarried two years later. Her second husband, the American lawyer Robert Treuhaft (1912-2001) also held radical-left political views and both were active members of the Communist Party USA until 1958. In addition to her Communist beliefs, Jessica is also remembered as the author of several best-selling books, with the most famous being Hons and Rebels (1960) and The American Way of Death (1963).
Deborah, the youngest of the Mitford girls, married Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire (1920-2004) who was very active in politics, serving as Mayor of Buxton (1952-54), Under-Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations (1960-62) and Minister of State for Commonwealth Relations (1962-64). But unlike her husband and her older sisters, “Debo” as she was known, wasn’t interested in politics although she knew many high ranking politicians including Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy. She once also had tea with Hitler but according to her later accounts, she wasn’t impressed. In her later life, “Debo” wrote several books including the autobiography `Wait For Me! Memoirs of the Youngest Mitford Sister` (2010), telling her side of the story about her siblings and other interesting people she had met over the years. Inch Kenneth he island was sold by Jessica in the late 1960s to Andrew Barlow, son of Sir Alan Barlow, 2nd Baronet. It remains with their family.
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