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St Kilda Work Party Information

What is a Work Party?

Work Parties are residential working holidays organised by the National Trust for Scotland to help in the conservation and management of St Kilda.

What sort of skills do I need?

Building, carpentry, plumbing and roofing skills are all very useful skills to have. But don't worry if you don't possess any of these, an ability to try and enthusiasm to learn are important too. A relaxed and easy-going manner is valued too! A good level of fitness is also needed.

What sort of work do work parties do?

In the past the Work Parties roofed some of the ruined buildings, this was major construction work involving stonework, roofing and carpentry. Today there are no major building works planned, however in the harsh Atlantic climate buildings need constant care and maintenance. The roofs are re-tarred annually, woodwork needs re-painted, drains cleared, turf roofs repaired and the tool shed always needs tidied! Sometimes the archaeologist and ranger need a helping hand to do their work.

Work parties are also expected to help in the day to day running of the island, this includes cleaning public areas, helping in the shop and welcoming visitors.

'I enjoyed working with professionals and learning new skills' (Work Party 2002)

'Good balance between work/leisure time. Drystane dyking proved more of a challenge than I had anticipated! Well trained/supervised.' (Work Party 2009)

Am I fit enough?

St Kilda is a challenging place. The long boat journey can be exhausting and once you arrive everywhere seems to be uphill. You will be asked to do outdoor work including drystane dyking, wheel-barrowing and digging. Spare time is usually spent exploring the island - you don't have to go on the walks but it would be a pity to miss them.

'The work was surprisingly hard and quite intensive' (Work Party 2003)

Travel to St Kilda

The journey to St Kilda can take several hours, the crossing can be ardous and many can suffer from seasickness. It is recommended that diabetics and others who may suffer from lack of fluids / solids consult their doctor prior to departure.

'The boat's ok - can you do something with the sea?' (Work Party 2003)

Where will I sleep?

Two of the re-roofed 1860s houses serve as accommodation for the work parties. The single sex rooms have space for up to 7 people (at a squeeze!) in single beds. Each house has electric light and heating.

Please note that the accommodation is very simple and basic. Work Party members need to bring a sleeping bag and sheets.

The work party leader and cook each have a single room of the same standard.

'It was great to stay in the renovated cottages.'
'Can you make the beds longer, I'm 6'3"?!' (Work Party 2003)

What are the toilet and washing facilities like?

The Ďablutions blockí was built opposite the Factorís House in 1957 and today is used by the work parties and any campers. On a bright sunny morning itís a pleasant walk, in the rain at night it can seem a long way! A torch is recommended to stop you falling in the burn.

Facilities include

  • 2 toilets
  • 2 showers
  • 3 hand washing sinks
  • Constant hot water
  • Clothes washing sink
  • Spin dryer
  • Pulley
  • Clothes line

Please note there are no separate facilities for men and women

The ablutions block is kept clean and tidy and is repainted every year by work party members.

'When it's wet there are problems getting clothes dry.' (Work Party 2002)

What is the food like?

Each work party has a designated cook who orders all the food beforehand and arranges for it to be delivered to the boat. If you have any special dietary needs these should be included in the application form. There are no shops on St Kilda and food cannot be delivered during your stay.

All food is included: breakfast (cooked), lunch, dinner and snacks. The meals are wholesome and filling and of a very high standard.

Each day two work party members will help the cook prepare the food Ėdonít worry if you canít cook Ė youíll learn.

'I wish I ate as well at home as I did on St Kilda'
'The food was excellent' (Work Party 2002)

What if I fall ill?

There is no doctor on St Kilda but there is a nurse and you are required to fill in a medical form. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that requires medication you must ensure you have an adequate supply with you. In an emergency appropriate arrangements will be made.

But most of all

St Kilda work parties offer a unique opportunity for people to stay on the island for 2 weeks. All other visitors to St Kilda stay on their vessels in the bay and usually only have one or two days ashore. If you are successful in your application to be part of a work party you will have an unforgettable experience.

'Thank you for giving me the opportunity to visit St Kilda with an NTS work party. It was a wonderful experience.' (Work Party 2009)

© The National Trust for Scotland