Wednesday, 13 July 2011
Boreray, the stacs and a farewell to St Kilda
We reached the end of our crossing at Stac Lee, senses assailed by the wheeling Gannets and the incredible shape of Boreray ahead of us.
Paddling on to Boreray itself, we made straight for a huge cave in the sheer cliffs which drop into the sea here.
It wasn't possible to get a photograph which did any justice to the size of the cave, but it was cathedral sized. Once again, St Kilda's epic scale reduced us to silence.
Murdani brought Cuma to the entrance of the cave so that Simon could film us within. This image doesn't quite show the full story though.....
Murdani brought Cuma really close in and behind her the bulk of Stac Lee was framed in the cave entrance. It's one of our abiding memories from the trip.
Moving up the west coast of Boreray, it was clear that our time was running out. A freshening wind was kicking up the conditions as we headed towards Stac an Armin and the north of Boreray. The swell was suging along the sheer cliff to our right; I tried to stay as close as possible in this amazing environment and so got very few pictures - I was much too busy concentrating on paddling! I'm very impressed that Douglas took such good images from this section of the paddle. All the way along this section we were entertained by the singing of Atlantic Grey Seals, a very atmospheric sound.
Passing between the shark's fin of Stac an Armin and the north tip of Boreray with it's huge towers, we were passed by a tour boat on a day trip from Lewis. Goodness only knows what they thought of us appearing and disappearing in the surf and swell.
Murdani had picked the perfect place to get us back onboard Cuma, a good deal calmer than the conditions we'd paddled in. All safely onboard, he turned Cuma mortheast and we began our journey back to the Hebrides. The approaching weather front followed us all the way back. It's a seven hour passage back, and we spent the time reflecting on the amazing St Kilda, an archipelago of dramatic scenery, amazing natural sights and epic scale.
We felt very, very privileged to have been able to visit and to kayak in such a special place.
It was 11pm when Cuma entered Loch Reasort, a superbly sheltered anchorage in the fresh southeasterly wind. After a very late dinner we toasted St Kilda; our time there was over but we still had more of our adventure to come.