2nd of August, 2011 – St Kilda Trip, Day 4 – Paddling Hirta and Dun

Picking up our kayaks, we set off on a planned anti-clockwise circumnavigation of Hirta, sheltered side first, and found ourselves exploring massive caves, all seemingly competing to be the best. Some were cavernous, others long and thin with no sight in end (next time I am taking something brighter than an LED head torch), some with raised beaches, both with and without seals and some with blowholes (the caves not the seals). The swell and noise added to the experience. The cliffs above and views across to Boreray added to the paddle as did the birds above. 7km in 3 hours – that says it all about the caves and interest along the way – not a place to rush about.  We finished off our morning by paddling through the great arch in to Glen Bay on Hirta’s north side where the Cuma now lay and lunch awaited us.

Paddling Hirta's east coast

Caving, paddling, or both?

Colourful rock at the tidal zone inside one of Hirta's caves

One of the narrower caves

One of many caves with a great view

The swell looked too lively at 3m on the west coast to allow sensible passage and any chance of exploring the caves along it, so rather than paddle we headed onwards on the Cuma, passing between Hirta and Soay then down the west coast of Hirta and Dun then back to Village Bay.  From there, a smaller group of us tried again for a circumnavigation of Dun. With a lower water level to that of the previous evening, we first encountered a dried out gap and therefore no passage through then a different experience in the second tunnel system. An exposed rock in the back of the cave had a resident seal who was not too bothered by our presence. We almost did a circumnavigation except for the gap but re-traced our steps and got to enjoy the rough stuff on the other side.

Lunch time!

Hirta's west coast

Gannet

Rougher water on Dun's west side

A couple of hours exploring the village buildings followed the paddle before a well-earned dinner aboard the Cuma.

Hirta's war relic which was to defend Village Bay

One of many cleits used for storage and drying in the past

... and another of the 1200 or so cleits and some Soay sheep

View in to the village

Village, Village Bay and Dun beyond

One of St Kilda's Wrens

View up towards 'The Gap'

Looking from the church out to the building known as the Feather Store

Dun at dusk

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