Please sign in to post.

St. Kilda Island - Literally no man's land

The NY Times today has an amazing article on St. Kilda's island off the way northwest coast of Scotland. It was last populated 80 years ago apparently. It's not just off the beaten track, there's no track at all! Awesome photos in this article. Shamefully, I've never been to Scotland.

ST. KILDA, A Unesco World Heritage site owned by the National Trust
for Scotland, is one of the outermost outposts of the British Isles:
Beyond it to the west lies the North Atlantic in an unbroken stretch
until Newfoundland. The main island, Hirta, was inhabited until 1930.
Beyond the reconstructed main village, which is just a row of half a
dozen houses, the island is dotted with scores of cleits, stone
storage huts with turf roofs, that characterize the St. Kilda

Posted by
942 posts

Hi, FastEddie,

It's an amazing place. I was lucky enough to get there once. It ain't cheap to get there.

If anyone wants to read more about it, there are a couple of great books:

"The Life and Death of St. Kilda," by Tom Steel

"Island on the Edge of the World," by Charles Maclean

Both books are still in print.

FastEddie, can you tell me which print edition has the article? I don't normally get The Times, but this one would be worth buying.


Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: I just found the article on line. None of the accompanying photos were taken on St. Kilda. You can see a lot of amateur photos of St. Kilda (some of them mine!) on Trip Advisor.

Posted by
5668 posts

interesting article. I attended an amazing lecture and slide show (and yes, it was within the last 10-12 years!) on St. Kilda. We were on Harris at the Harris Hotel in Tarbert and it was something to do in the evening--aside from sipping whisky. The pictures were absolutely amazing. I was a bit taken aback by the choice of photography for the article. There is not a single picture of St. Kilda! Lovely pictures of the Hebrides, but not St. Kilda. So, for those who just want pictures go here. Here's the link to the St. Kilda site. This site tells more stories about St. Kilda. The lecture I saw was peppered with these.

It's really good to hear that someone on this forum actually made it there.


Posted by
942 posts

Hi, Pam,

It was quite an adventure. We were lucky to get there. You get a two day window to sail there, as they don't go out if the weather is bad. We only had a one day window, so we were really fortunate. We talked to several people on the trip who had tried before, with a two day window, and hadn't had any luck.

I had always wanted to visit St. Kilda, after having read Tom Steel's book in the 1970s. For years, the only way to get there was with an NTS working party, which was a two week commitment. St. Kilda has been opened up to tourism within the last couple of decades. We went with Kilda Cruises, out of Leverburgh, but there are several companies now making the voyage - some from South Harris, and some from Skye.

I jokingly said to Angus, who operates Kilda Cruises, that I'd like to visit Rockall, which is the westernmost of the British Isles. He replied that they do go there! I don't think that it's possible to land, however, unless you're young and agile, and the ocean is calm enough for the boat to get close.

We stayed at the Harris Hotel in 1973 (!), and returned in 2014. Out of curiosity, I asked the manger if they still had their visitor logs from 1973. They did, and we had stayed there, almost to the day, 41 years earlier. We even got a discount as returning customers!

I hope that some of the visitors to this forum have the opportunity to visit St. Kilda. It's one of those things that you have to experience, and to imagine what life must have been like over the centuries for those islanders 50 miles from the nearest habitation.


Mike (auchterless)

BTW, the article is wrong. There are 16 houses in the main village. Each one has a small marker noting the last occupant of each house before the 1930 evacuation.

Posted by
1407 posts

FastEddie, can you tell me which print edition has the article? I
don't normally get The Times, but this one would be worth buying.

The link is under the NY Times Style Edition. I don't know if a print version is available.