Don’t abandon Ulva and Gometra

Ulva Primary and the Ulva Ferry area take their names from the island of Ulva, which is situated about a mile south of Ulva Primary and separated from the mainland of Mull by around 200 metres of water.

In the past, any children on the isles of Ulva and its neighbour Gometra have attended Ulva Primary, thanks to a local ferry service that runs between Mull and Ulva. Ulva’s a big island some five or six miles in length with no proper roads, so children have a huge trek just to get to Ulva Primary.

Here’s a video showing where Ulva Ferry and the island of Ulva are in relation to Ulva Primary:

As you can see, despite being a narrow stretch of water, the sea can get too rough to cross – often in a short period of time when the weather turns. This means we rely on our local ferryman to let the inhabitants of Ulva know when the weather’s turning bad and to head for home ASAP.

If the children were in Dervaig, it simply wouldn’t be possible to react in time to changes in the sea.

Closing Ulva Primary would condemn the historic islands of Ulva and Gometra to a future without young families as no one would relish the lengthy trip to a primary school much further afield.

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Elevation of the Hill Road

The geography of this part of Mull means many places have their own unique micro-climates. The stretch of hills that dissect the north-west of the island are steep, bleak and act as a barrier, both physical and psychological, between Ulva and Dervaig.

Here’s the elevation of the Hill Road section – the Dervaig side of the road faces north and gets very little sun, so often freezes. And as the route is not gritted, it’s only thanks to the kind work of locals and their shovels that this road is passable at all during lengthy cold periods.

This means we often see completely different weather conditions in Dervaig compared to Ulva. We know there will be several days over winter when the weather changes and these roads quickly become impassible. It’s therefore inevitable that the children will find themselves stranded in Dervaig.

It’s simply not acceptable that our primary-age children will find themselves stuck away from home over winter as a result of this proposal.

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GALLERY: Snow on the Burg/Ensay road

A few pretty photos for you. It’s a beautiful journey, but not one you’d want to do with a mini bus full of primary school children!

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Proposed school run route

Here’s a map illustrating the proposed winter school run, which takes the kids to Dervaig via the Burg road – which will be a routine trip when the shorter Hill Road route is closed in the winter.

Also, the route could possibly start and finish further away, were a child to move into the Kellan area – which is part of the proposed new catchment area. We’ll be driving this route tomorrow, taking accurate timings of the trip.

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Hill Road photos

OK, so 2009 was a terrible winter across the whole country, but the ‘Hill Road’ the council propose we drive our children over to Dervaig school regularly freezes over the winter – every year.

Last year the ‘Hill Road’ was impassible for several weeks, and the high altitude and rapidly-changing weather conditions on top of the hill means it’s inevitable our children will find themselves stranded in Dervaig on some winter days.

This is one possible alternate route. Equally bad!

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Ulva Primary School catchment area housing map

One of the many problems facing schools in beautiful rural areas is the lack of housing. Considering the huge number of holiday/second homes in the catchment area, we’re very proud of the community we’ve built here.

Houses with children attending Ulva Primary or children of pre-school age are shown in YELLOW, second homes and holiday houses are RED. Occupied houses with no children are represented by the BLUE marker.

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Save Ulva and Lochdonhead Primary Schools!

Ulva Primary School and Lochdonhead Primary School are two of many isolated rural schools Argyll & Bute council is proposing to close. Here we will tell you why this would be terrible for both pupils and the two local communities.

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