As the season progresses visitor numbers have increased proportionately. Cruise ships arrive and depart, their passengers coming ashore for a few hours before sailing off to other Hebridean islands. Campers have stayed on the island – one particular young couple becoming engaged while on St Kilda. Apparently the proposal was made and accepted while they took shelter in a cleit away from heavy rain and Skua attack. Things can only get better after that! We wish them all the best for their future.
In a collaborative project between Glasgow School of Art and Historic Scotland a group of surveyors Scottish Ten have been using laser scanners to build a virtual St Kilda. See http://www.scottishten.org/ This project accurately records features and archaeology of world heritage sites considered at risk and also enables a virtual St Kildan experience for those unable to physically get here.
(Photos Scottish Ten 2011)
At the top of the hill the radar tracking station is undergoing refurbishment. Unusual vehicles have arrived on island by landing craft to help with the works and extra portable accommodation has been brought in to cater for RAF personnel brought in to carry out engineering works. As Ranger I have been continuously setting out and checking rat traps to ensure that no unwanted rodents have arrived with equipment brought from the mainland.
The St Kilda Club Shop has been doing a roaring trade, ably managed by Erica Koning our long term volunteer from the Netherlands. This year the shop is in the newly restored Manse and far better than the tiny room we occupied last year.
We have recently had a couple of retired ex-serviceman visit the island returning to their old haunt. A 1957 half-penny piece was pointed out to me outside the Manse, set in concrete by servicemen over 50 years ago. We look forward to welcoming all our visitors and rappreciate listening to those able to recount personal experiences on St Kilda.