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St Kilda Work Party 1

31 May 2012
A week may be a long time in politics but a 2 week Work Party on St Kilda just flies by. Last week I returned from a most fantastic break on this enchanting archipelago. The volunteers were from a variety of backgrounds including a retired principal of a music college, a retired fireman, a university librarian, a multi-lingual translator of technical guides, an ex soldier and the grandson of a St Kildan lass who married a sailor stationed there in WW1.
St Kilda visible from 30milesWork Party 1

The conservation work itself was also varied, including repairing stone wall collapses, clearing drainage ditches, repairing damaged roofs on cleits and putting another layer of bitumen paint on a cottage roof.
Dry stone wall repairedRepairing the roof of cottage 5Clearing ditches

But there was plenty of time to learn about the history of St Kilda with a guided walk by the archaeologist and many individual or group walks around Hirta - weather permitting! We were fortunate in having a keen and knowledgeable bird watcher in our group who helped us identify the wide variety of birds that exist on the island.
Talk by Susan (ex Archaeologist)Skua dive bombing JoeWren singing on The Street 

The weather was unpredictable and we experienced everything from severe gales to balmy days. I particularly liked the dry days with lows mist – very atmospheric.Dun Gap from the GapBoreray from the GapMisty over the village 

Socially we had Cottage 1 for cooking and to relax in at night as well as the appropriately named Puff Inn. Some of us spent a few evenings there enjoying the company of the friendly staff.
Cottage 1 dining area
Accommodation is in restored cottages which was comfortable and dry, if basic. Ear plugs advised as snoring can be invasive! Mens dorm

Our trip coincided with the Olympic Torch relay and we recreated our own procession along St Kilda Main street.

Torch relay

On our return the boat took us round the islands and stacks offering views of the impressive cliffs and the enormous number of puffins and gannets. Soay, Stac Lee and Boreray were all clouded in mist which just added to the atmosphere.Gannets galore!
Hirta hidden in the mistNo real view of stac leeStac lee in the mist

Memories to last a lifetime; but that was last week now its back to “auld claithes and porritch.”

Many thanks to Tom McLean (volunteer on Work Party 1 2012) for his contribution to the diary!

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