Tag Archives: soay sheep

St Kilda – a world away from home

pen and ink sketch of st kilda village
Abandoned village on St Kilda

I heard of St Kilda when we first went to Harris and Lewis 27 years ago. I’ve wanted to visit it ever since so you can imagine how excited I was when we received a gift of a pair of tickets for a day trip with Kilda Cruises (thank you Marie!).

In brief, St Kilda is the remains of what was once a volcano active 60 million years ago. There are four main islands (Hirta, Soay, Boreray and Dun) and a number of spectacular sea stacs. Hirta has the highest sea cliffs in the British isles and and Stac an Armin is the highest sea stac. Boreray is home to the world’s largest colony of gannets.

For thousands of years, a small community had lived on these islands but in 1930 the last few islanders left which brought their unique way of life to an end. The remains of this deserted village extends in a ribbon around the bay.

We knew it would be hit and miss with the weather and decided to make the 1100+ mile round trip to Leverburgh on Harris taking our chances on the last available dates of the year. Trips are only confirmed the evening before as poor weather conditions restrict landings on the island.

This is a trip that I know many of my friends and family would love to make but may never manage so I would like to share some photos and a few sketches. St Kilda has a street which I would love to draw one day.

Leaving our home in Staffordshire at 5am last Tuesday, we set off for Ullapool.

1 Road to Ullapool RonnieCruwys
Road to Ullapool
2 Ullapool bay RonnieCruwys
Enjoying the view from Ullapool’s Ferry Boat Inn.
3 Ullapool to Stornaway ferry
Evening ferry to Stornaway
Back packers bunkhouse Tarbert
Back Packers Stop in Tarbert, Harris

We reached Tarbert on Harris by 9.30pm where we had booked in for two nights in the Back Packers Stop, where we shared an 8-bed dorm with cyclists, walkers and bikers! Our trip to St Kilda had been cancelled for the following day so we spent a day on the south side of Harris.

Watching herons on the Golden Road
Watching herons on the Golden Road
Temple Cafe Harris
‘Money tree’ stuffed with coins and notes supporting the roof of the Temple Cafe

We stopped for a coffee at the Temple Cafe where we overheard a chap say that he had just heard that St Kilda was on for tomorrow! Woohoo!

Hirta Kilda Cruises Sept 2017 RonnieCruwys
The ‘Hirta’ at Leverburgh Jetty at 7.30am
5 Dolphins KildaCruise
Dolphins and porpoises joining us on our way out
6 Hirta view1 KildaCruises
St Kilda with Stac an Armin to the left
7 Hirta St Kilda view2 RonnieCruwys
Arrival on Hirta
St Kilda Street RonnieCruwys
Deserted homes of the St Kildans
Anne Gillies House no12 St Kilda RonnieCruwys
Each home has a named slate – No 12 was once home to Ann Gillies
Stephens ink from Highbury on ST kilda
Stephen’s Ink from Highbury London, in the school house.
soay sheep st kilda ronnie cruwys
Soay sheep (direct descendants of Bronze age sheep) enjoying a back scratch
pen ink and wash of Dun St Kilda
Skyline of Dun from the House of the Fairies
An underground store dating from 500bc to AD300 known as the House of the Fairies
An underground store dating from 500BC to AD300 – known as the ‘House of the Fairies’
St Kilda Bay RonnieCruwys
Looking towards Dun
St Kilda Sea Stacs 1ronniecruwys
St Kilda stacs with gannets circling
St Kilda Stacs 2 Ronnie Cruwys
St Kilda Stacs

St Kilda Ronnie CruwysSt Kilda Stacs 3 Ronnie Cruwys

return st kilda
Leaving St Kilda

We have been so very lucky to have visited these remote islands. The crew of Kilda Cruises were first class – my thanks to them and to you for reading and hope that this has given you a flavour of the extraordinary place that is St Kilda.

Ronnie