Scotland – St Kilda
Far-flung, untamed and breathtakingly beautiful, the St Kilda archipelago is utterly spectacular and sailing to these islands at the 'edge of the world' is truly an experience like no other.
The tiny archipelago of St Kilda is made up of five isles and several sea stacks. Shaped by ice and rain, each are breathtakingly beautiful, and the islands are the only World Heritage site recognised for both their natural beauty and cultural significance. Lying 40 nautical miles off the Outer Hebrides, they are the most remote destination in the British Isles and can only be reached by boat which means our sailing holidays to St Kilda are the perfect way to explore this awe-inspriring outcrop.
THE HISTORY OF ST KILDA
Rising magnificently from the Atlantic swells, the approach into this volcanic landscape is spectacular and seabirds will often accompany your journey to the shore. St Kilda is managed by National Trust Scotland who greets all visitors on arrival, providing a map and overview of where to wander. The first port of call for many is the 18th Century church which was set up by a group of missionaries, a school was added in 1884. Written records can be viewed, both here and in the small museum, and they depict a joyful life of a close-knit community whose life was far from easy.
Originally settled by humans four to five thousand years ago, the last remaining islanders were evacuated off in 1930 at their own request, having undergone years of hardship and isolation which had seen life there become untenable. Today, the abandoned remains of houses, churches and other enclosures are all that is left to remind us that human life once thrived on this wild landscape, providing a powerful link to the islands’ past history. Explore Hirta – the site of the only settlement – Dun, Soay and Boreray, imagining how humans once existed during the long harsh winters, battered by the gale-force Atlantic winds. It is certainly a humbling experience.
WILDLIFE WATCHING ON ST KILDA
The withdrawal of humans, allowed nature to take over and today, St Kilda is classified as a national nature reserve by NatureScot. The clear waters and craggy landscape are home to nearly one million sea birds and it’s sizeable volcanic cliffs (the highest in Britain) support the largest seabird colony in the north-east Atlantic. The cries of puffins, gannets, guillemots and kittiwakes provide a constant back drop to this hauntingly beautiful destination and there will be ample wildlife watching opportunities throughout your visit. Several lucky visitors have even sighted whales and the occasional basking shark from the shore!
Back on land, the isles also support species totally unique to St Kilda including sheep, field mice and wrens. Walking around, it is evident that this fascinating natural island environment, which is unmatched anywhere on earth. Keep cameras at the ready too, St Kilda is a photographers dream and for some of the best views on Hirta, walk up Conachair. From here, you will be rewarded with sweeping vistas across the iconic sea stacks and the smaller isles, take in the isolation and contemplate what life must have been like for the self-sufficient St Kildan’s.
There are a variety of walks available, and we ensure there is enough time allowed for guests to take their time to uncover this special place. Due to its remote nature, the voyage to St Kilda takes several hours from the Western Isles and is not always guaranteed due to weather conditions. However, those who choose to make the journey will be richly rewarded.
View our St Kilda adventures!