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The great popularity of this holiday is testament to the mystical allure of this most remote of Scottish islands, and a true voyage of discovery.

The archipelago of St Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles, lies 41 miles (66 kilometres) west of Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides, leading to its description as "the edge of the world". St Kilda has Dual World Heritage Status, putting it on a par with a handful of sites around the world, having been acknowledged for its impressive physical appearance and its biological character, as well being recognised as a cultural record of the lost crofting community that once lived here. It is this combination of great natural beauty and the haunting human dimension that makes St Kilda such an appealing prospect. Just to travel here is an adventure in itself, although we are in the safest of hands with an experienced local skipper and his comfortable, custom-built 12-seat vessel Hirta.

 

 

Weather permitting, we will sail from Leverburgh in Harris to St Kilda, where we have half a day free to wander among the deserted village streets, view the bird colonies or simply take in the unique atmosphere that only a remote island can provide.

We will also explore the islands of Lewis and Harris, which completely contrast with one another. Lewis consists of largely rolling moorland with low-lying hills and a predominantly rugged coastline, while Harris is more mountainous, its fertile lands stretching down to the Atlantic Ocean forming many superb white sandy beaches, some of which stretch for miles. Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish, the Broch of Carloway, the Blackhouse Village and St Clement’s Church at Rodel complete the archaeological interest of this holiday.

Available departure dates and prices

 

The great popularity of this holiday is testament to the mystical allure of this most remote of Scottish islands, and a true voyage of discovery.

Day 1

We depart from our designated pick-up points and travel via Glencoe, Fort William and the ‘Road to the Isles’, stopping en route for refreshments.  We will take the short ferry crossing from Mallaig to Armadale on Skye and travel across the island, passing by the jagged, mist-covered peaks of the Cuillin Hills and through the Trotternish peninsula to Uig, in time for the early evening ferry to Tarbert.  On arrival in Harris we will transfer the short distance to our hotel, the comfortable Harris Hotel in Tarbert. Dinner will be served on arrival.

Day 2

Subject to favourable weather conditions, we will visit St Kilda today. After an early breakfast this morning we will be transferred to Leverburgh, where we join our boat the Hirta and sail for the archipelago (passage time 2¾ hours approximately). Purpose built for cruises to St Kilda and other difficult to access islands and launched in December 2007, the Hirta  is a 55-foot motor cruiser, which cruises comfortably at 18 knots with a top speed of 29 knots. Licensed and equipped for 12 passengers, there is a door allowing easier access on to the vessel for passengers with mobility difficulties, a W.C. and tea and coffee making facilities. Seating is arranged to allow passengers to relax and enjoy the trip, with life jackets being supplied to all passengers while on board. Angus Campbell, owner and skipper of the Hirta was born in Harris and has lived there all his life. As a fisherman, Angus fished for many years around Harris and St Kilda for lobster and crab, giving him great experience of these waters.

On arrival on the main island of Hirta, we will be met by the resident warden who will give us an introduction to the islands and outline a few dos and don’ts. Thereafter, we will have around four and a half hours to explore the island at leisure. The most visible sign of the now-vanished human population is the Village, which was laid out by the minister, the Reverend Neil Mackenzie, in the 1830s and consists of a crescent of houses with associated cultivation plots, all within a head dyke. The houses built in the 1830s were typical Hebridean black houses, single-roomed, the cattle being accommodated in them in winter. In the 1860s new houses were built. These were of a standard Hebridean design with an entrance lobby, small closet behind, and two main rooms. By the mid 19th century there was increasing contact with the outside world. A steam yacht visited St Kilda in 1838 and from 1877 the SS Dunara Castle and others began regular summer cruises to St Kilda. The gradual loss of self-sufficiency and morale had begun - this was to end with the evacuation of the islanders in 1930.

If your interest lies in the birdlife of the islands, you have the opportunity to view the thousands and thousands of birds that nest here – colonies of gannet and fulmar along with other species such as puffin, Manx shearwater, storm petrel and Leach's petrel. Also of interest is the flock of wild Soay sheep, perhaps the most primitive extant form of domestic sheep.

In the afternoon we return by boat to Leverburgh, arriving early evening.

Please note that the facilities on the island are extremely limited with little shelter and rough terrain (although there are toilets), so you must be well prepared. Packed lunches will be available from the hotel (not included).

Day 3

After a leisurely breakfast, we depart on a tour of Harris and Lewis. We travel first to the west coast of Lewis for a visit to the 5,000 year old Standing Stones of Callanish.  Undoubtedly the most remarkable antiquity in the Western Isles, this collection of almost 50 stones forms a  well-marked megalithic avenue, comprising 19 monoliths, ending in a circle of 13 stones, with a great cairn at the centre. Entry to the new Visitor Centre is included. We continue to the exceptionally well-preserved and imposing Carloway Broch, a circular, dry-stone fortified tower, dating back some 2,000 years.  During our tour of the island we will also see the old crofting Black Houses.  Returning to Harris later in the afternoon, we pay a visit to St. Clement’s Church at Rodel, one of the finest in the west of Scotland.

Dinner will be served at your hotel in the evening.

Day 4

After an early breakfast we must check out of the hotel and catch the morning ferry from Tarbert to Uig. We travel through Skye once again, but this time crossing back to the mainland by the bridge to Kyle of Lochalsh. We return to our original pick up points where we will arrive during the evening.

Please note that our visit to St Kilda is entirely subject to weather conditions and the final decision of the boat owner. Should the sailing not be possible on Day 2, we will have the tour of Harris and Lewis instead and try again to visit St Kilda on Day 3. If the visit is not possible on this day either, passengers will be refunded the cost of the sailing and an alternative excursion will be provided. Please note that the number of participants on each departure is therefore limited to 12 passengers, the maximum capacity of the purpose-built vessel, Hirta. Facilities on St Kilda are limited and the terrain can be rough, so a good degree of mobility is required.

Included in the price

  • 3 nights’ dinner, bed and full breakfast at the comfortable Harris Hotel in Tarbert. All rooms have private facilities
  • Return sailing from Leverburgh to St Kilda with time ashore on Hirta
  • Visits to Callanish, The Broch of Carloway, Blackhouse village and St. Clement’s Church at Rodel
  • Comfortable coaching and all ferries
  • Services  of a Brightwater Holidays driver/guide

Not included (per person)

  • Single room supplement     £90.00
  • Insurance    £17.50 (under 65); £35.00 (65-74); £52.50 (75 - 90)
  • Rail/air travel and overnight accommodation in Glasgow, Edinburgh or Perth before or after the tour available on request

Please note all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

Departure points and times:

 

Depart Return
Montrose (Railway Station) 0435 2045
Arbroath (Railway Station) 0455 2025
Dundee (outside Discovery Point) 0515 2000
Perth (Bus stop on Canal Street, Tay Street end) 0545 1930
Kinross (Kinross Services) 0645 1830
Dunfermline (outside Carnegie College) 0700 1815
Edinburgh (Marriott Hotel, Glasgow Road) 0715 1745
Glasgow (Millennium, George Square) 0830 1630

                                  

Pick-ups may also be arranged at Fort William and other suitable points en route to Mallaig/Skye on request.

 

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Pauline our Tour Manager was a wee star, her personality and knowledge make the Highlands come alive.

Mrs Wilson

A superb holiday - thanks Trish the Tour Manager was very helpful and knowledgeable - the free day was a great idea.

Mr and Mrs Somerville

The staff at our hotel on Islay were young and keen, very pleasant and helpful indeed.

Mr and Mrs Turner
 
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