Photos and the City

Slow travel & photography

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Back down in the village, our time on Hirta was almost over. I met some of the others and the rangers in front of the Manse and we spent the time chatting. The anniversary ladies were telling us more about their work party 50 years ago and the rangers told us about living half the year on Hirta.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

The anniversary ladies and ranger Sue

Almost everyone going up the hills had encounters with the bird bullies, but at least we had some stories to tell.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Our time in Hirta was over, we went back to our boat and started a little round around the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

The old pier while I was waiting for my turn to go back to the boat.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

The two rangers waved us goodbye and maybe had some fun about our bird encounters. Regarding birds, St Kilda or the cliffs of St Kilda are home to around 1 million sea birds: Puffins, Fulmar, Gannets, Shearwater, Petrel, Kittiwake and Shags – they helped the St Kildians survive and are still breeding there today.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

A gannet flying by – more to come..

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Looking back on Hirta and village bay.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Soon we were surrounded by big swarms of birds – all the puffins one can imagine.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

We were making our way around Hirta.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

It was shortly before the end of the breeding season and the birds went back to the sea.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

Saying good bye to Hirta, the biggest islands of the St Kilda archipelago.

After a day full of calm water and sunshine, the first clouds started to set in. We were warned that the weather could change pretty quickly, we soon should be expiring that.

 

I´ve already spent quite some time in Village Bay, but I at least wanted to see a bit of St Kilda from above. There wasn´t enough time to walk up the Conachair, so I chose the shorter but quite steep walk up to the Gap, to see some of the impressive cliffs.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

View of the cottages from the Factor´s house as I started to make my way up.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking through the many many cleits and looking back towards the row of cottages.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

The first stop is a kind of plateau in the middle between the village and the cliffs:

An Lag Bho’n Tuath

There are several stone enclosures and buildings on this plateau. In the last few decades, this area of Hirta has been excavated a few times. They found the remains of cairns (burial places) and ritual areas, that were quite complex structures.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

See these cleits going up the hill in a straight line, I walked up the cliffs along those.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

And suddenly I was on the edge of the Gap where the cliffs drop vertically to the sea for 200 metres. I tried looking down, but didn´t manage at the end – just did a quick little peek over the edge, with a very generous distance to the cliffs.

The Gap

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

I staid a good 2-3 m afar from the edge, but the views were still amazing. I can´t imagine the St Kildians climbing and walking along and in these cliffs, catching the birds and collecting eggs.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Making my way back down, again along the line of cleits. The ranger had warned us that there are breeding Bonxis, the Great Skuas birds. Big brown birds, also known as bullies as they bully other birds for their food. We were warned that they have their nests in this area and might get angry if we come too close. But as I didn´t have any problems going up I felt pretty safe. Until a group of them started circling around me…

I slowly started to walk back up again but that seemed to make it worse – suddenly I had one of these big guys flying on eye level about 2 metres in front of me – we started a bit of a staring contest. But I remembered Sue’s tip and put my arms up and it finally flew over me – were close to my fingers.

Sue, later on, told us, that she once wanted to see what happens if you don´t put your hands up, and got quite the slap.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

I now made my way back down to the other side of the hill – like a  few of the others, somehow we all had a run-in with the Bonxies.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

No more staring contests with big brown birds and I arrived safely back in the village.

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Walking up the hill towards the Gap in St Kilda, Outer Hebrides