Saturday 8 June 2019

The Day I Didn't Go to St Kilda

We're going to St Kilda! Waiting on the ferry at Uig, Skye:

It can be hard to get to St Kilda. The couple of tours that run get booked up six months in advance. You're not going at late notice unless you take your own boat. So you book in November, and pray for the best - pray, because the weather has the decisive say in your trip. St Kilda sits in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and has no proper harbour. We booked and we prayed.

The days before I didn't go to St Kilda started with a Half Marathon on Benbecula. Wind, some rain, a great post-race buffet, and meeting kind people. Despite the rain, I've hardly enjoyed a half marathon more.

Camping on Benbecula:

We didn't much fancy the cycle to the ferry on Benbecula in heavy rain, but the running club from Stornoway somehow shoehorned us and our bikes onto one of their minibuses. And then, a miracle! There was no space at Am Bothan in Leverburgh, but we were allowed to camp on the grounds. A Sunday spent listening to the rain drumming on our tents hadn't appealed. We pitched tent, had the day's catch in The Anchorage restaurant, and all was good with the world.

It continued to rain and blow a gale all next day, but as the afternoon wore on the rain stopped. We emerged from Am Bothan's spacious living space and went for a ride to bag a Marilyn. A walk round the base of Ceapabhal had been suggested, but as the cloud started to lift, a more ambitious plan presented itself. We would climb the hill itself!

It was windy - we were both sporting the 'Hebridean mohawk' - but the sun even came out.

On Ceapabhal:

What a place!

But it was not to last. next day, the day we were due to travel to St Kilda, the wind kept blowing and the rain came back. There was going to be no trip today. We cycled to Tarbert for the ferry to Skye and camped the night at Sligachan, in midges and damp underwear. I was ready to go home.

Sligachan campsite:

Instead, next morning in damp, cloudy conditions we climbed Ben Tianavaig.

Ben Tianavaig, Skye:

We met a couple of New Zealanders, saw a golden eagle, and returned home happy with our damp and windy Hebridean adventure, even if we hadn't managed to do what we had set out to do.

Descending Ben Tianavaig:

Next time, St Kilda. Next time.