Sunday, September 18, 2005

St Kilda


A couple of years ago I hired a yacht with some friends and headed off for a ten day tour of the Hebrides. It was a wonderful trip; wall to wall sunshine and as many fresh prawns as we could eat.

You get a totally different perspective on the landscape when travelling by boat. You can access natural harbours and beaches which are inaccessible to those restricted to the road network. We had some memorable barbeques on the white sand beaches of Uist, our only company the wheeling seabirds. These barbeques were somewhat enlivened by a litre cider bottle containing rough mash (undiluted) malt whisky from the Talisker Distillery, kindly donated to us by a friendly fish farmer. At 130% proof the stuff was rocket fuel, but was delicious and gentle on the pallet.

The highlight of our trip was a visit to St Kilda an island archipelago located 41 miles from the outer Hebrides. St Kilda is a World Heritage Site, and is well worthy of its status. It’s hard to convey in words the sublime, other worldly atmosphere of the place. Nature is at its most primal, and you feel totally removed from the world.

There is a military missile tracking station on St Kilda, and a development of hideous concrete 1970’s military buildings in Village Bay, the only harbour. It does provide one consolation though; the aptly named Puff Inn, which is open to army personnel and visitors. St Kilda is outside UK territorial limits for excise purposes, and tax is consequently not levied on alcohol. Admittedly it’s a long way to go for drink, but it is highly satisfying to pay seventy pence for a measure of whisky.

The National Trust take volunteers out to St Kilda every year to help with repairs to the abandoned houses in Village Bay. You work for a week and have a week at your leisure. It’s worth a look if you fancy escaping civilization for a while,and engaging with a landscape that will alter your perspective on the natural world for ever.

9 comments:

Sniffy said...

Ahhh, if only I could enjoy a measure of single malt again. Alas, not in this lifetime. However, it sounds like a wonderous place for its natural beauty alone.

garfer said...

If there's one place people living in the UK should visit before they die, this is it. Honestly, I don't see the world the same way anymore.

Piggy and Tazzy said...

That water looks a wee bit too choppy for my liking!

As for fresh prawns *vomits*

Must say the idea of a week working St Kilda and then a week of leisure, it sounds absolute bliss. Where would I get any info about it? (yes, I know Google can supply answers, but i thought I'd ask you first).

And thanks for the visit and comment at our place, you cheeky twat (Tazzy's words).

And we've added you to our blogroll. We like you. Fuck knows why, though.

As for that Tina, single malt is disgusting. I grew up surrounded by distilleries and could smell that shite 24 hours a day. It's put me off for life!

garfer said...

You've obviously never smelt the decomposing socks scent that a Guinness brewery emits. From such filthy middens glorious flowers bloom.

garfer said...

Oh, soz, an NT chartered boat used to run out of Oban during the summer. I don't know if it's still going. Check with the NT if you're interested.

pissoff said...

That sounds awesome. I checked out the website and I think I know where my next holiday should be.

Merkin said...

If the Puff Inn is the only pub on the island, where do squaddies go when they've (inevitably) been barred?

As for malt whisky ... mmmmmmmm, nice. Apart from the fact that my hangover that started at 6am Friday and only wore off Sunday lunchtime had an awful lot to do with the stuff. Still, mmmmmmmmmm ... nice.

Rowan said...

ahh, I missing saililng, wish I could go to this place you mention, sounds heavenly.

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