1st of August, 2011 – St Kilda Trip, Day 3 – Journey to St Kilda and Dun Paddle

Shortly after breakfast and a forecast, we were off to St Kilda and not long in to the 5 ½ hour journey the highest points began to show, confusing at first as the biggest island seemed to be Boreray, not Hirta, but that changed the closer we got as more of the low ground began to appear over the horizon. More and more birdies joined us along the way, bound for their home and the route taken in to the archipelago was a cracker, we headed in through between Boreray and the giant Stacs beside it (Stac Lee and Stac an Armin), much like Bass Rock but bigger, though it is hard to appreciate that until close up.

We were amazed by Boreray and as it receded behind us we were approaching Hirta and Dun and were growing excited about the view we knew should just be round the corner, that of Village Bay and its remaining village with all the buildings I had spent the past few weeks and more reading about. Again, stunning but the presence of numerous military buildings was a little detracting from the scene.

Early view of St Kilda on our journey out

Each island becoming apparent as we got closer (l to r) Dun, Hirta, Soay, Boreray

Rounding Boreray

Stac Lee, Stac an Armin and Boreray with its almost ever present puff of cloud.

Gannets being pursued by a giant skua (bonxie) past the stacs

Not long after arrival we headed out on our first paddle. We set off from Village Bay and almost immediately hit on something interesting, a cave but not just any cave, one with passage right through in to the Dun Gap which separates Dun from Hirta. Conditions were lively on the west side so we did not venture out of the gap and instead followed Dun’s east coast. Another tunnel / cave system was followed, at first narrow and at an angle allowing paddling only on one side, into a big cavern then out at 90 degrees in to the wild waters on the west side, we looked briefly and headed back through.  Lots of puffins and other birds here kept us company and we got our first close up of a Soay sheep albeit a drowned one!

Paddling over to Dun

Passage through Dun

Dun's giant arch

View of Dun from one of Hirta's countless caves

Towards the southern tip there is a huge arch which has some shallow rocks at its base making for interesting passage through and there are two entrances too, one smaller and ‘bumpier’ off to the side. Great fun! We rounded the southern tip for a glimpse up the west coast and then headed across Village Bay to land at the pier and leave the kayaks ashore, chatted to some people and saw some livelier sheep up close.

Dun provides shelter and safe anchorage for Village Bay ... most of the time

Hirta's village laid out beneath Connachair

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