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58 North 6 West, third week

November 10, 2013

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We went for a walk with Simant and Dizzy along the coast at Mangersta. St Kilda was just visible, to those with better eyesight than I, as a tiny inverted V on the horizon. Tom Steel’s book “The Life and Death of St Kilda” made a big impression on me in the late 1970s. This part of the St Kilda Opera was performed there in June 2007. The Thames TV documentary, with interviews with some of those who were evacuated from the islands in 1930,  is well worth watching.

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First sight of John’s bothy, clinging like a limpet to the cliff. It’s popular with hermits and honeymooners. You’d need to be entirely sober on the scramble down to it.

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Inside, there’s a sleeping-bench and a fireplace, and a tree-trunk holds up the roof.

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From out at sea it must be almost invisible.

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The Duet section of the St Kilda Opera was performed on these cliffs. The video here is breathtaking.

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 Simant made this: a delightful, surreal surprise.

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One morning there was a great commotion in the usually traffic-free road. I took this photo from a slightly salt-caked upstairs window. The flock of sheep looked like tons of porridge flowing down to the pier.

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The sheep were loaded, a few at a time, onto a boat and ferried the short distance to Pabbay for the winter.

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The sand is made of shells.

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Every morning there were a couple of dozen Greylag geese on the beach or flying overhead.

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Lewisian gneiss, the oldest rock in Britain, is a metamorphic rock up to 3 billion years old – two thirds the age of the Earth. It is banded in shades of grey and pinkish-red.

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We made a second visit to Callanish.

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This nearby circle of five stones is called Cnoc Ceann a’Gharraidh, or Callanish 2.

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Cnoc Fillibhir Bheag (Callanish 3) is a short walk away. The approach is on duck-boards across the bog.

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Evening light on Pabbay.

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A kind neighbour took us over to Pabbay one morning and collected us two hours later on his way home from fishing. We climbed out of the boat onto the rocks and scrambled up to a group of semi-underground huts and well-protected kitchen-gardens. This island used to support four families but no-one lives here permanently now.

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The fresh-water supply is a spring.

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The ruins of St Peter’s Chapel.

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A Shag (a small variety of Cormorant). Sea-eagles breed on this island , but are not in residence at this time of year.

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We looked for the sea-arch, and then realised we were standing on top of it.

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On the way home we saw the arch from the other side.

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The dark blob in the middle is the head of a Grey seal swimming towards the boat.

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Robert took us a little way into one of Pabbay’s sea-caves. Some of them extend deep under the island. The water inside was greenish and very clear.

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Shags sit very low in the water.

The weather was deteriorating. A downpour soaked us just as we got back to the pier. But it didn’t dampen our spirits or detract from the joy of an amazing trip.

 

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Young permalink
    November 11, 2013 8:47 am

    Thank you so much for the journey – so many, many familiar sights, the sea, the seal, the shags, the shells and the wonderful colours. XX

  2. November 11, 2013 2:03 pm

    Wow. Absolutely wow. Love the bothy, the bottle and arm, the shell-beach, the semi-buried huts… the geology…

  3. November 14, 2013 7:13 pm

    Ama this is wonderful, the viking style of hay making . . . John’s bothy . . . Callanish . . . all of it. I’ve always had a hankering to go to Lewis, your posts have confirmed that for me. best wishes, Mavina

  4. November 14, 2013 10:02 pm

    Go for it, Mavina! There are some lovely places to stay. And it’s an easy journey by air from Bristol, though I have always preferred trains and boats to planes.

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