St Kilda Archipelago in the Scottish Hebrides

St Kilda Scotland is about as remote from city life as you can get, and as far away from being a tropical island. Its only inhabitants are flocks of sheep with long, curving horns and many, many birds. Strong winds, acid peaty soil and salt spray have taken care of trees. However St Kilda does boast 130 flowering plants, 162 fungi species, and 160 assorted hornworts, mosses, and liverworts. The main pleasure of St Kilda is the apparent absence of human intervention.

St Kilda Scotland Abandoned High Street in Hirte
Abandoned High Street in Hirte: Stephen Hodges BY CC BY-SA 2.0

Isle of Soay, St Kilda Scotland

There once were people living on the main island of Hirta. In fact, the ruins suggest they arrived during the middle ages. By the 17th Century, Hirta had a population of 170 with three chapels. This could have been a religious community although there’s no record of a Saint Kilda having existed. They were a wild and independent lot as is evident from this photo.

St Kilda Scotland: Isle of Soay
Isle of Soay

The Street, Hirte in 1886:

I said they were a wild and independent lot. They were. They set their houses a meter into the ground in sheltered valleys, and kept them warm in winter by sharing them with their animals, which as I mentioned did have horns. Come spring, the level of the muck was such they had to squeeze out under the lintel. By the 1870’s, St Kilda Scotland had begun attracting tourists in quite large numbers to its lonely shores.

St Kilda Scotland: The Street, Hirte in 1886
The Street, Hirte in 1886

Soay Ram Descended from Hirte

Victorian ‘do-gooders’ decided the time had come to improve their living standards by building modern houses called The Street, and facing the harbour and the wind. The tin roofs rotted, let in water and admitted the cold. The first storm blew the doors, windows and roofs away. Despite repairs, the community was unable to adapt. In 1930, the remnant drifted to the mainland, leaving only stones as a testament to their industry.

St Kilda Scotland
Soay Ram: Arje Cahn BY CC BY 2.0

Visiting the Remote and Lonely St Kilda Archipelago

St Kilda Scotland is 64 kilometres northwest of the nearest settlement, North Ulst across the sea. As there is no airport and it is too far to swim, you must catch a boat of some or other kind.  Possibilities include cruise ships, charter boats, private yacht hires, and joining a work party to help preserve this unique world heritage environment.

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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  1. The Key To Scotland's Treasures - Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] for both built and natural heritage; it looks after the nation’s top heritage treasures including St Kilda, the UK’s only dual World Heritage Site; the Robert Adam-designed masterpiece – Culzean […]


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