Tucked in their Hebridean corner with just spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife for company, the tiny island of Ulva’s six residents are familiar with solitude, peace and quiet.

While for visitors, the five minutes crossing from Mull by ferry in a small boat steered by a ferryman who knows the waters like the back of his hand, is one of its many charms.

But now with summer at its peak and lockdown restrictions easing, the small band of Ulva islanders are going to be keeping their lonely existence for a little bit longer.

And any would-be visitors who had intentions of making the short trip from Mull by using its tiny ferry, will need to either stay away or find an alternative – perhaps much wetter – route to the island.

For those who do opt to sail, kayak but preferably not attempt to swim across the fast currents of the Sound of Ulva to make it to the island, there will be precious little to do other than take in the impressive scenery and stay away from the locals.

The privately-run ferry has been withdrawn from public service due to fears that two metres social distancing requirements will be impossible on the tiny vessel.

While concerns over cleaning and social distancing means the doors to the island’s small church, bothy and Sheila’s Cottage visitor centre will also be firmly closed.

There won’t even be a place to refuel on fresh seafood - the community-owned island’s popular restaurant café, The Boathouse, is also closed.

It means Ulva’s tiny group of residents, whose isolated existence had already made them perfectly placed to cope with lockdown and social distancing rules, are set to have the quietest possible of summers, with their picturesque island almost entirely to themselves.

“Having no visitors has been like an extension of winter. It’s been amazing to see the island go through spring without visitors,” said Wendy Reid, Ulva’s development manager whose arrival in September brought the population up to six.

“There’s the ongoing work that is island life, so there’s plenty for us to do.”

Normally tourists begin to arrive on the island in early April, with numbers soaring to several hundred a day at the peak of the season.

Many are drawn by the island’s spectacular scenery, however, interest in Ulva’s heritage has grown since the £4.65 million community buy-out two years ago, which saw North West Mull Community Woodland Company take over. It has plans to renovate properties and boost the population to around 50 people.

Visitor numbers rose from around 4,500 in 2018 to more than 7,000 last year, which had sparked hopes of a bumper season this year.

The closure of the ferry to visitors, means the island is now effectively shut to only the most determined of tourists.

The islanders’ notice states: “We are a small and geographically isolated community and as such we are sure you can appreciate and understand that there is a certain level of nervousness about reopening to visitors.”

It adds that a risk assessment into the feasibility of carrying visitors on the ferry while maintaining the two-metre physical distancing rule meant it could not operate safely.

It continues: “Obviously, those who are able to cross over to Ulva by their own means may do so, but please be aware of the limited services available on the island.”

As well as the closure of the Cragaig Bothy on the island’s southside, the island’s public toilets at the Ulva Ferry pontoon will also be shut.

The island, which is just three miles wide and around six miles long has been free of Covid-19, however Mull, the first Scottish island to declare a shut down on March 22, has experienced several cases among its 2,600 residents.

Wendy Reid, Ulva’s development manager who arrived on the island in September, said: “We would prefer to be able to welcome people to the island, but we just can’t.

“There is an element of concern about opening to visitors, although generally when people come here they come to walk, so it’s not much of an issue. But physical distancing on the boat is tricky and we can’t get people here under the current situation.”

Once a bustling island with more than 850 residents, the island suffered when it was sold in 1845 along with neighbouring Gometra to a new laird, Francis William Clark.

He carried out the rapid clearance of the resident population in order to graze sheep on the land. By 1851, three quarters of the two islands’ population had been cleared.

By 2011 there were just 11 residents on Ulva and 2 on Gometra, with clusters of empty properties where business and families once thrived.

Ms Reid said locals planned to spend the unexpectedly quiet summer carrying out repair work to tracks and buildings, and tending to the newly acquired fold of Highland cows which arrived in January – the first cattle on the island for generations.

And although the ferry won’t be available to visitors, locals will still be able to use it to cross to and from Mull.

“People can come under their own steam, but they have to be prepared that nothing will be open and certain that they will be able to get back,” she added.

“We’re not saying ‘don’t come’ just that we can’t bring you here.”