THEY are remote and very often windswept, which, in turn, can add to the isolation by cutting off transport links.

However, despite the unpredict- able weather and reliance on ferries for essentials, children living on Scotland’s islands have the best quality of life among youngsters growing up anywhere in Britain, according to a report.

It states the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and Western Isles are the places with the best quality of life for children.

It marks the second year in a row these areas have claimed the top three spots in Halifax’s annual Children’s Quality of Life study.

The study looked at employment rates, average house sizes, school performance levels, population density and personal wellbeing to make the findings.

It found the Western Isles has the lowest population density in Britain, with just nine people per square kilometre – compared with the national average of 276.

Shetland and Orkney also have a low population density, with 16 and 22 people per square kilometre respectively.

The report said children can walk around in “relative freedom”, with an average of 71 vehicles per square kilometre in the Western Isles. This “rises” to 142 in Orkney and 145 in Shetland but compares with an average of 9,587 across Britain.

Recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on personal wellbeing also suggests adults living in Orkney and the Western Isles are among the happiest in Britain.

But while they can roam outdoors freely, there is less good news for internet-loving youngsters.

Between 52 per cent and 56 per cent of households in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles have access to fast broadband, significantly below the national average of 86 per cent.

However, all the islands should soon be connected to superfast broadband within the next two years because undersea cables have already been laid, with plans for more to follow.

No other area of Scotland made the top 10 in the UK, The research also named the local authority areas of South Oxfordshire, Ribble Valley in the North West of England and Chiltern in the South East of England as being among the top 10 places to raise a child.

London did not fare particularly well in the study, with Merton, named as the place with the best quality of life for children in London, only coming 184th in the overall rankings.

Martin Ellis, an economist at Halifax, said: “For the second year in succession Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles occupy the top three spots in our latest study.

“Children growing up in these areas benefit from low class sizes in primary and secondary schools, with some of the highest spending per pupil and a high proportion gaining very good SCQF (Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework ) results.

“Children in these areas are supported by a high proportion of adults in full-time employment and many of them rate themselves highly in a recent personal wellbeing survey.

“On the flipside, provision of high-speed broadband is amongst the lowest in Britain.”