For the past six weeks volunteers have been working on St Kilda to help conserve and maintain the structures on Hirta. Three work parties, each with 12 people, ranging in age from their 20s to the early 70s, have achieved an amazing amount.
Their tasks have ranged hugely:
painting window frames and doors, and even the external rendered walls of the Factor's House;
replacing turfs on cleit roofs;
clearing out open water courses and covered drains;
waterproofing roofs of the buildings that are still in use;
repairing drystane dyke and cleit collapses;
to name but a few of the things that were done…
But it certainly wasn't all work: everyone has ranged far and wide, walking around the island to Ruaival and the Cambir, to Gleann Mor and OIseval. Some have been birdwatching, all have been taking hundreds of landscape photographs, others have been swimming, running the chimney challenge and just quietly taking it all in. The last work party was even blessed with a trip round the island on Orca II, as well as an impromptu fiddle and guitar session in House 16. "An amazing experience that exceeded all expectations" was just one person's feelings about their stay.
Work Parties provide a unique opportunity for people to stay on St Kilda for two weeks. Places are very limited, but those who have participated almost always say that, even if they had had to apply several times before being accepted, it was well worth the wait. Application forms for next year's volunteers will be available later this year. Although oversubscribed, if you don't apply you won't get the chance!