Welcome to St. Kilda Islands, the fourth and last of a series of posts on our tour of Scotland. Highlights include thehistory of the St. Kildans, the wildlife of St. Kilda and the rugged beauty of the islands.
St. Kilda is an archipelago about 64 kms. north-west of Scotland, in the North Atlantic Ocean. The islands belong to Scotland and are owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The islands were inhabited for about 2 millennia until the St. Kildans were evacuated in 1930. Their story is fascinating.
We took a day trip to St. Kilda Archipelago from Leverburgh, on the Isle of Harris. Day trips by boat are the only way to tour the islands. We chose the tour operator Sea Harris. Unexpectedly, we were accompanied along side the boat by some playful dolphins. But we were told we could see puffins on the islands. There were no puffins.
Puffins: We are convinced that puffins are creatures of fantasy. When we planned our adventures in Iceland, Madeira, Ireland and Scotland throughout 2017, we were told each time that we might see puffins. But when we arrived at each location we were told that we just missed them. Either the puffins just left for their winter homes, or for their summer homes, or that they were feeding out at sea at that time of day. Before we left Isle of Harris we were told the puffins were feeding at sea; once we were at sea we were told that the puffins had returned to their nests. Hmmm! Something is afoul. We think someone stuck clown feet and a clown nose on other birds for all the pictures of puffins we’ve seen.
The British Ministry of Defence has had their own facilities on the main island, Hirta, since the 1970s. Unfortunately, those facilities do not blend in with the natural setting or the original residents’ buildings. The military buildings look very military. But don’t let that deter you from visiting the islands. The military facility is very small and low profile, and the Ministry is now rebuilding their facilities to blend in with the landscape and the original structures. That project will complete in 2018.
See the highlights below of our tour of the St Kilda Archipelago.Click on any photo to view them all full size.