I had always wanted to go to St Kilda and decided to sign up when I saw a week-long kayaking trip round St Kilda and the Hebrides advertised at the start of this year. I’m a fairly inexperienced paddler, but reckoned I would have plenty of time to practice before the trip in June! I only managed a few trips out however, so it was with some trepidation that I met up with the rest of the group on Lewis to set off on the motorboat ‘MV Cuma’, which was to be our home for the week.
The boat was comfortable however and everyone was friendly. Our guides Alison French (Sea Kayak Plockton) and Murty Campbell (a local guide who has paddled to St Kilda and knows its coastline very well), Murdo MacDonald, the skipper, and his crew were welcoming. The weather was amazing so we headed straight out to St Kilda on a flat calm sea which was very unusual! When we got there we had a late evening paddle among a sea of puffins, and paddled through an impressive arch and into some caves - the scenery was amazing. And I was relieved to discover that there were a couple of others who had a similar amount of paddling experience to me!
The weather was good the following day and we set off in a Force 4, calm by St Kildan standards but with more swell than I was used to, to circumnavigate the main island, Hirta. Although there was a mix of levels in our group of ten paddlers, the fact that we had two guides and that the Cuma was always nearby really helped. We all made it round and really enjoyed the paddle. That evening, we had a walk on the island and explored the old village which was fascinating. It was lucky that we did, as the next morning the wind had got up so we had to leave and couldn’t spend the day walking on the island as planned.
We had an exciting crossing to the beautiful Monarch Islands where we found a sheltered anchorage and did some walking and paddling that afternoon and the following day, before heading on the Cuma to Taransay, another lovely island. We didn't see it in the best weather, but it was interesting to paddle and wander round the part of the island where 'Castaway' was filmed. We paddled from there across to Harris, the longest open crossing of the trip. Our final island stop on the Cuma was Pabay, where we walked on the island, and the stronger paddlers paddled from there back to the boat’s jetty at Miavaig, while the rest of us went on the Cuma.
We had a lovely dinner and a comedy prize giving on the final evening, staying up late to finish the drinks we had brought! It was sad to say cheerio to everyone the next morning after a group photo on deck. It had been a great trip with very competent guides and crew, a friendly group and some superb paddling.