Ranger, 65, leaves 'best job in world' tending three uninhabited Scottish islands after 13 years

Jonathan Grant has spent more than a decade tending to the Bishop's Isles islands of Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray.

Jonathan Grant, 65 is set to retire from his job as a ranger on remote Scottish islands after 13 years.
(National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
Jonathan Grant, 65 is set to retire from his job as a ranger on remote Scottish islands after 13 years. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)

A unique opportunity to tend three uninhabited remote Scottish islands is on offer after the current ranger of 13 years announced his retirement.

Jonathan Grant has spent more than a decade tending to the islands of Mingulay, Pabbay and Berneray in the Outer Hebrides, and hopes his replacement "can experience what I've experienced".

The 65-year-old spends six months a year looking after the islands which lie around 20km south of his home on the island of Barra.

A Glasgow native, he moved to the remote isles 20 years ago to escape city life, and took the National Trust of Scotland job in 2010.

"A younger person who lives on the island could be experiencing what I've experienced," he said.

The National Trust of Scotland is seeking a ranger to care for three uninhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
The National Trust of Scotland is seeking a ranger to care for three uninhabited islands in the Outer Hebrides. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)

The three deserted islands form part of the Bishop's Isles archipelago.

The islands, which sit at the southern tip of the Outer Hebrides, are known for their dramatic landscapes, beautiful beaches and rich ecosystems.

Mingulay (pictured) is known for its rich ecosystems which host seals and basking sharks. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
Mingulay (pictured) is known for its rich ecosystems which host seals and basking sharks. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
The Isle of Mingulay was abandoned by its Gaelic speaking inhabitants in 1912. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
The Isle of Mingulay was abandoned by its Gaelic speaking inhabitants in 1912. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)

Grant said: "There's seabirds nesting on the cliffs, the wildlife is unbelievable.

"There's sandy beaches and seals and basking sharks."

The remote Bishop's Isles archipelago lies 20km south of Barrow in the Outer Hebrides. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
The remote Bishop's Isles archipelago lies 20km south of Barrow in the Outer Hebrides. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)

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All three islands were abandoned by their Gaelic speaking residents at the start of the last century, due to harsh living conditions.

Grant first moved to Barra to take up work as a builder 20 years ago.

But for the past 14 he has worked on the uninhabited islands for six months a year in the summer, and as a self-employed builder in the winter months.

Houses remain but the islands have been uninhabited for decades. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)
Houses remain but the islands have been uninhabited for decades. (National Trust of Scotland/SWNS)

"That's always been my main employment," said the grandfather-of-three, adding "I don't get paid a huge amount".

He said retiring is a gesture of commitment to the future of the islands.

"I feel it would be unfair to keep the job as I'm getting older," he said. "My first commitment is to the wellbeing of the islands".

He added he would be "sad to leave" the unique job.