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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Canna come and live on your isle?
By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland news website
Highlands and Islands reporter

Canna (Pic: National Trust for Scotland)
Canna has caused a stir world-wide
Only four miles long and a mile wide, the island of Canna is just a green speck on a map of the UK.

But the tiny isle has proved a big hit across the world after its owners advertised for new residents.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) has been inundated with hundreds of emails and phone calls from families wanting to move there.

A story about the appeal on the BBC News website has also received more than 100,000 hits.

The advert was driven by the trust's concerns about Canna's declining population - just 15 people live there - and are offering two properties for rent.

A retired lighthouse warden, a family in India and even Scottish exiles living the American dream have had their imaginations fired by the thought of a new life on the remote island just south of the Isle of Skye.

We are looking for a family with primary school age kids, while the other house would suit a small family or a couple to run as a bed and breakfast
NTS area manager Pete McHugh

Mother-of-seven Heather Pick, from Leicester, has already filled in an application form and sent it off to the trust.

After reading a story on the BBC website she knew without a shadow of a doubt that Canna was where she wanted to move her family.

In fact, she had made up her mind to apply before getting out a map to find out exactly where it is.

If successful, Mrs Pick and her husband John would move to the island along with their youngest children, Meggie, 5, Catrina, 8, Alison, 14, Mary, 15, and Heather, 18.

She said: "John and I had considered living in Scotland before. We had wanted to move to one of the islands in Orkney.

"We want to get away from the city and live in a safer environment for our children.

"We'd like a better lifestyle and better education for our children - our youngest are at primary school.

Mrs Pick added: "We've not long come back from Inverness on holiday and the kids love Scotland."

The Pick family
The Pick family hope they will be enjoying island life soon

Pete McHugh, NTS area manager in the Hebrides, has received dozens of emails from people requesting more information.

His trust office in Oban and one in Inverness have received about 300 enquiries by phone, email and letter.

"We have had a lot of enquiries from England, but also Sweden, Finland, Germany, one from Dubai and I read on the BBC website there is interest from India," he said.

Application forms are being sent out to those requesting one and these have to be returned to the trust by 11 November.

Trust staff and the island community will then sift through them and draw up a short-list of six to eight families.

They will be invited out to Canna to "get a feel of the place, " said Mr McHugh.

The community will also be involved in choosing the two applicants they believe will be most suited to the island.

Mr McHugh said: "We are looking for a family with primary school age kids, while the other house would suit a small family or a couple to run as a bed and breakfast.

"Ideally we are looking for people who will bring skills with them such as plumbing, a vehicle mechanic, or joiner."

Canna (Pic: National Trust for Scotland)
Many see Canna as an escape from the rat race

The trust hope to have the new residents setting up home on Canna by early next spring.

Connected to the mainland by a ferry, the crofting and farming community can be swamped by 30,000 holiday visitors each year.

It is well-known in the Gaelic world as the home of the late John Lorne Campbell.

The Gaelic scholar's library on Canna is possibly the finest collection of Gaelic material in existence and has now become a study centre.

Many of those who emailed the BBC spoke of escaping the rat race.

They should be happy to know that Canna has dealt with its own race with rats - of the furry variety.

The last of the predators - a non-native species to the isle - are believed to have been exterminated after they almost wiped out colonies of rare sea birds.

The birds are now recovering and, by the weight of interest, the human population will soon be back to strength too.

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