The scenery is as spectacular as it is wild, there’s the promise of a traffic-free – if possibly slightly rocky - commute and certainly no tricky office politics to navigate.

For anyone who craves dropping out of the rat race, life on the 2.5 square mile Outer Hebridean island of Mingulay could be all theirs: with just an old schoolhouse to call home, a wood-burning stove for warmth, the company of thousands of puffins and the comfort of being paid for the pleasure.

The rare opportunity to become Ranger responsible for Mingulay – uninhabited since 1912 – and the close by islands of Pabbay and Berneray, is just one of a number of extremely rural roles now available as Scotland prepares for another year welcoming rising numbers of tourists to even its most hard to reach spots.

They include jobs working on Highland estates, isolated nature reserves, lonely islands with dramatic scenery, and in the wilds of Rannoch Moor, 20 miles hike from the nearest road, at a railway spot made famous in a scene from Trainspotting.

There's even the chance to work in the stunning surroundings of Skye's tourist  trap, the Fairy Pools at Glenbrittle, albeit as the supervisor of the car park and toilet facilities. 

They all offer a rare chance to escape the bustle of the modern world for Scotland’s most beautiful places – although, of course, there is the small matter of also having a job to do.

Often that means being first port of call to welcome increasing numbers of visitors encroaching on all that peace and quiet, keeping a watch on wildlife, tackling unwanted pests like rats, enforcing biosecurity measures to keep out invasive species and maintaining everything from solar panels to sewage systems, fences to ruinous buildings.

But they are open to applications at just the right time: the early months of the year are often when thoughts turn to fresh starts, career change and the right work-life balance.

Among the roles currently being advertised by the National Trust for Scotland is that of seasonal ranger on the island of Staffa, with its dramatic sea cliffs and rock formations. The role involves a daily six miles boat commute from Mull accompanied by dolphins and occasional minke whales.


The Herald:

If that’s a stretch too far, jobseekers might be tempted by the slightly more populated but just as laid back NTS-run Inner Hebridean island of Canna.

The ranger's job description calls for someone to take part in rabbit monitoring, corncrake studies and to help welcome around 10,000 visitors a year.

Read more: The Highland Clearances: How and why they happened

SS Longwy: Girvan memorial honours lost French sailors

Burns Night's rarest haggis - from Scotland's lost flock of sheep

The roles may be particularly tempting for anyone considering a major life change, something which Edinburgh-based career and life coach Sharon Smith, of Sharon Smith Coaching, says is currently on many people’s minds.

“At this time of year, when it is bleak and the nights are long, we all dream about other ways to lead our lives,” she says.

“It is a time of year of new starts, new year resolutions and a time when we are looking to book holidays to the places of our dreams and desires. On top of that, we are all living lives where we are overrun with things to do, chasing our tails, trying to not to meet ourselves coming backwards.

“Our workplaces expect more with fewer staff and reduced budgets and our personal financial burdens seem to be growing by the day.

“Burnout is becoming more of a norm than an exception, and life is not easy,” she adds.

“For some, a quieter pace during the pandemic afforded us the space and time to consider alternative options. For others, we dream about far-off places, that provide a quieter, less complex way of life, where the day-to-day busy-ness is no longer a reality.”

The Herald: Canna

Those seeking an extreme retreat from hustle and bustle, may find the role of ranger for Mingulay, cared for by NTS and uninhabited since 1912, along with nearby islands of Pabbay and Berneray, is ideal.

The last ranger, Glasgow-born grandfather of six Jonathan Grant, whose great-great- great-grandmother came from Mingulay, retired last year after 13 years in the role.

For his replacement, there’s the comfort of knowing their accommodation on Mingulay – although basic – is taken care of. He kitted out the island’s old schoolhouse with solar panels and a wind turbine: there is enough electricity to power a laptop and charge phone batteries, a gas stove to cook on but not enough power to run a fridge and no running water. The loo, meanwhile, is a chemical toilet outside.

However, there is the added extra of the remains of an Iron Age Fort on the island, beautiful beaches of white sand and turquoise seas, some of the highest sea-cliffs in the British Isles and countless puffins, guillemots, shags, black-legged kittiwakes and razorbills.

The new ranger won’t get too lonely: around 1,500 visitors arrive every year among them day trippers from Barra, wild campers and climbers seeking to tackle the sheer cliff faces.The Herald: Fairy pools on Skye

The job pays a pro-rata annual salary of between £25,603 and £27,318 and applicants are expected to have a good level of physical fitness and take up residence “for significant periods over the summer months”.

For those who need a little more human interaction – and the convenience of not having to wait for a boat to deliver food – there are other jobs in beautiful locations to consider.

Such as at Mar Lodge, set in 29,000 hectares of Cairngorms National Park landscape, with heather covered moors, Caledonian pine forest harbouring red squirrels and pine martens, more than a dozen Munros, wetlands that attract countless wading birds, and wildlife from otters to black grouse.

Conservation work within its boundaries includes a project to revive montane willow species which have been almost lost from Scotland.

The National Trust for Scotland is seeking a seasonal ranger and visitor services assistants to work there.

Pamela Milne, People Director at the National Trust for Scotland, said: "We’ve recently advertised new seasonal ranger roles with the Trust for Staffa, Lin of Dee, Canna, among other beautiful places, that will help our charity to achieve our goals to care for and protect Scotland’s rich natural heritage.

"We’re excited to hear from experienced candidates who want to make a difference to our work and help with a variety of projects to engage visitors, share the stories of our special places, and protect the wildlife that call these places home."

For those a little wary of a full-time role, she suggests considering a volunteering role.

"Volunteering is a fantastic way to gain invaluable experience if you’re looking for a change in career whilst working in some of the country’s most picturesque and idyllic locations.

"We are always pleased when new volunteers join and become part of the Trust team. Anyone who is interested in joining us should keep an eye on our website or visit their nearby Trust places to see what volunteering opportunities we currently have available.”


The Herald: Mar Lodge

Meanwhile, for jobseekers who fancy a starring role in a familiar movie location, there's currently a rare opportunity to work at Corrour Station House alongside the train station on the West Highland Line.

Corrour Station featured in two Trainspotting films and as a location in one of the Harry Potter films. The nearby house has been turned into a restaurant with Bed and Breakfast rooms.


The Herald:

Only accessible by train – or a 20-mile hike – it needs staff from March to November to take care of housekeeping and kitchen duties, with accommodation thrown in.

The roles are said to be ideal for people who “thrive in a variety of roles and love interacting with a diverse clientele, from hikers and bikers to train enthusiasts and food lovers.”

The Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, meanwhile, is seeking a full-time supervisor to look after the car park and toilets at tourist hotspot, the Fairy Pools, on the Isle of Skye, with a salary of almost £25,000.

Life coach Sharon, who splits her time between Edinburgh and a second base in the Highlands after quitting education for a better life balance, says she understands the need for escapism.

But disappearing to an isolated island or rural spot needs careful consideration and may not be the best move for everyone.

“Running away to the remotest of places takes a unique character,” she says.


The Herald: Life and leadership coach, Sharon Smith.Life and leadership coach, Sharon Smith. (Image: Sharon Smith)

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and a measured and cautious approach, with in-depth consideration to the outcome is always worthwhile.

“However, intuition and gut feelings will really tell you if the new dream or destiny is truly right for you. Only you will know.”

Fancy a career change?

As Scotland gears up for a new tourist season, jobs in some spectacular locations are up for grabs.

If you don’t want to stray too far from the central belt, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a good bet.

The park attracts more than 4 million visitors each year and spans sea lochs, majestic glens, lochs and Ben Lomond. It is looking for a seasonal ranger team leader based in Callendar.

Or there’s 23,000 acres Glenlivet Estate, held by the Crown since the 1930s and lying between the Ladder Hills and the Cromdale Hills in the Cairngorms National Park.

It wants a new estate maintenance ranger, with duties such as inspecting paths, carrying out repairs, grass cutting, litter collection and weeding.

There’s a salary of almost £33,000 per annum, you’ll need experience of working in a rural setting and to know your ash from your oak trees.

If history is your thing, the revived Scottish Crannog Centre near Aberfeldy is preparing to reopen after a devastating fire, with replica Iron Age village and museum.

The Herald:

It has a number of posts including museum interpreter and events manager.

Or wing your way to a new life in the Outer Hebrides where bird charity RSPB wants a site manager to cover five Outer Hebrides reserves: three in Lewis, one in South Uist and its flagship RSPB Balranald in North Uist.

The charity is also wants a 'people person' to work a 6-months at Loch Gruinart on the whisky island of Islay. Responsibilities include welcoming visitors and managing walks, talks and events.