Oct. 26th, 2010

St Kilda

Oct. 26th, 2010 11:49 am
janey_m: (Default)

gannet1, originally uploaded by Janey M.

I'm up to the Tuesday, and am going to try and get the rest of the holiday blogged this week seeing as I'm off work, and the holiday was eight weeks ago.

Tuesday morning saw an early start, as we set out for Leverburgh along the ROAD OF DEATH. I was kitted up with photographic equipment and seasickness remedies, and ready for the three hour crossing to St. Kilda.

The journey out was okay, and the nausia had only just started to kick in by the time we were entering the harbour - mostly due to taking my eyes of the horizon, but seeing as the reason was a *huge* pod of dolphins, it was probably worth it.

St Kilda is a strange, haunting place. There is the beauty of the hills and cliffs, the stunning views out to see and the nothingness beyond, then there is the melancholy decay of the abandoned village, the shells of old long houses and cleits, and squatting next to the harbour the utilitarian grey metal and pre-fab shabbiness of the Ministry of Defence radar station.

I can't really do St. Kilda jutice with words - you must see the place for yourself - but I don't think I did St. Kilda justice with my presence. The problem with taking the camera, and the lenses, and the tripod...is that you end up too weighed down with stuff to be able to explore that much, and the exploring you do isn't particularly unpleasant because you're weighed down with kit. If you're not careful, experience can be sacrificed to the need to document it.

One day I would like to go back, with a compact camera. Or maybe even no camera at all...

On the journey home, we went round the stacs of Boreray, Stac an Armin and Stac Lee, and saw the thousands and thousands of gannets that nest there. Carved up in the rock, high above the waves, you can see the tiny bothies where St Kildans would spend their nights whilst living on the stacs collecting eggs and birds. In 1840, four years before its extinction, the last Great Auk recorded in Britain was beaten to death on Stac an Armin by two St Kildans who thought it was a witch.

Today, the only threat to the gannets is from the skuas - the thuglike brown bonxies who mug other birds for their half digested dinners, and will take chicks and eggs as a supplement to their regurgitated repast.

We sat out on deck on the journet back, taking on the view of the receding archipelago and a thin crusting of sea salt. As St Kilda fades away into the sea, Harris rises on the horizon, and in the evening light we disembarked, home from our journey to the end of the earth.


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