/ ARTICLE: St Kilda - A World Apart

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UKC Articles - on 02 Aug 2017
Standing on top of the legendary Mistress Stone, 4 kbIn June this year, Dave MacLeod and Natalie Berry sailed to St Kilda with the aim of establishing some new routes on the remote islands, alongside skipper Bob Shepton of Wild Bunch fame. As the group discovered, this was a case of quality climbing being overshadowed by the intrigue of the destination itself...

I climbed up on deck to a stunning sight: dark jagged cliffs piercing through the sea, shrouded in mist; giant arches with waves climbing and crashing against the rocks below; lush green hills capping the cliffs, dotted with gutsy Soay sheep balancing on the fringes. Peels of bird calls, and thousands of birds. A wild sense of the prehistoric washed over us.

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Greenbanks - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Fantastic. A very evocative read. I could hear the seabirds. Hopefully a rendition of 'Dodo's Delight' was performed at some point in the proceedings?
Mick Ward - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

A fascinating account.

> 'Can you feel the ghosts?', a perceptive visitor's book comment asked in the museum, reflecting on a curious presence felt through absence.

This is an odd phenomenon indeed - I've felt it in places as disparate as the Moelwyns and Staden Quarry - in neither case being aware initially that there had been hordes of people who'd gone.

I've always wondered about the Blasket islands - a kind of Irish version of St Kilda. Brendan Behan lived there, I believe, in the late 1940s and wrote a poem 'A Jackeen's [Dubliner's] Lament for the Blaskets'.

Abandoned islands. The sun beating down eternally on deserted places. Heart-aching loneliness.

Post edited at 19:11
pneame on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article - by far the high point was the description of the sailing and the historical references. Definitely a place where the journey is as important as the destination. I could taste the salt!

The climbing seems somewhat burly - I was wondering "there must be stuff easier than E7 if the locals climbed there". And I'm sure there is, but it's perhaps not of such great quality?
keith-ratcliffe on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to Mick Ward:
I went to Great Blasket in 2006 - inspired by reading '20 years a growing' by Maurice o'Sullivan which describes his childhood on the island. It was an inspiring visit but not in a ghostly way - more like a visit to a different way of life as seen through the ruins. Two other books about the island are 'An old woman's reflections' by Peig Sayers who was a great storyteller whose tales were captured in writing by her son and 'The Islandman' by Tomas O'Crohan which is an attempt to describe the life on the island written in the 1920's. There is a great interpretation Centre at Dunquin with lots more from a great literary tradition associated with the island.
I have also been to St Kilda and felt similarly about the place - not so much ghosts - more a heritage presence in the buildings. The school house & small church were really imbued with that feeling.
Post edited at 20:41
bertbeep - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

The 1987 expedition to St Kilda, which I was on, was led by Pete Whillance, not Chris Bonington. Chris joined the team very late in the day. Only ONE route was climbed on Conachair, Edge of the World, by Pete and the late Ian McMullan. Steve Boydon and myself attempted a line to the left of Pete and Ian's, however, it proved to be far too audacious and serious both in approach and execution. The remaining routes were on various other cliffs on the island. We spent three weeks on the island and really got to know it and the surrounding islands very well. A seriously memorable trip!
USBRIT - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article about time we had some real climbing on UKC.
Dogwatch - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

"upper body strength for winching"

Bad technique. Winching should come mostly from leg muscles. Just like climbing. Crouch over the winch and swing your body in a circle using your legs. OK, the specific technique isn't so much like climbing.
BALD EAGLE - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

A superb article so well done Natalie for writing it and to everyone else involved!
eb132 on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Beautiful. This really was a wonderful read, everything about it just takes you to the place. You can almost hear the roaring of the sea. The photos are also beautiful and full of colour. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story.
Will Hunt - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Brilliant article. Well written, Nat.
Post edited at 13:37
sheelba - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

So those interested in the Island but who don't want to fork out the time and money to get there, there is currently an excellent exhibition at the AROS centre on Skye which is well worth a visit.
climb41 on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Fantastic article. Reading it really took me back to the one time I made it out there. Sailed out in fog, with the islands spookily appearing out of the gloom when we were virtually on them! Spent a couple of pretty lumpy nights at anchor in Village Bay, with a day exploring the main island, visiting the buildings, school etc. Climbed up to the top of the hill and had a scary look over the edge on the huge cliffs. Had a sail round a few of the other stacks before heading back to the Hebrides.

I have since read a few books on life out there; it really is astounding what they had to do.

Thanks for posting the article.
JayPee630 - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to climb41:

Really good article, Natalie is a really good writer - easily one of the better ones I come across covering climbing and related material, great job!
CMacD - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

What a superbly written article. Well researched, measured and full of life and colour to describe a wonderful sailing and climbing adventure. You're clearly as good at writing as you are at climbing
Speed Reed - on 03 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Great article.Very fortunate to visit St Kilda in 2015.Sailed with Sea Harris and thier really fast Stormforce 1650. The sea was so calm which is very rare apperently.St Kilda is a remarkable place and to think it is part of the British Isles is mind blowing.It is a facinating place and the history,geology,flora and fauna make it an absolute must if you are up that way.
The sea stacks rising from the ocean are amazing.The history of the islands also add to St Kilda's uniqueness.
Jeannie on 04 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

Great article! Very well written. Inspirational adventuring! Loved it.
I did go out to St Kilda in mid May this year just to go and look at the sea cliffs! I got very sea sick...but all the article describes is so accurate. Really captured the essence of all that St Kilda is about. Thank you for sharing.
BusyLizzie on 04 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:

What a beautiful article - thank you.
Ace123 - on 08 Aug 2017
In reply to CMacD:

This is indeed a great article - well done Natalie!
Always enjoy your articles - a very talented writer and climber.
colinakmc - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to UKC Articles:
Captivating read, well done to the author. This deserves a much wider audience than UKC.

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