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15 Oct 2019

From the edge of the world: part 12

Written by Sue Loughran
Looking along a sandy beach on St Kilda, with a green hill and military buildings in the background and seaweed-covered boulders in the foreground.
Hello! I’m Sue, the ranger on St Kilda. I’ve been writing a blog this year to share what it’s like to work on these incredible islands. This time, I talk about my farewell week.

The island has slipped into autumn very quickly. Gannets have been feasting in their hundreds (not often seen in Village Bay until the last few weeks of the year), making an impressive spectacle in front of the manse. Friends made on the MoD base are beginning to move away, as their work is coming to completion.

It’s now the end of the season and we’ve put the shutters up on the church, school and cottages. Everywhere has been swept and cleaned, and we’ve made endless lists of what we’ve got and what we need for next year.

I’ve scrubbed the jetty for the last time and taken in the bollards, ahead of the winter storms. ‘Closing up’ is quite a difficult thing to get right, as we want visitors to see as much as possible of the island’s heritage, but we can’t afford to leave everything to the last minute.

For all of you who have visited St Kilda in the last few years, you’ll be interested to know that demolition of the old MoD site is now well underway. The 1960s accommodation block vanished in a matter of days, opening up vistas that haven’t been seen for the last 50 years. To see the demolition machine in action was like watching a dinosaur carefully selecting its food: at times delicately removing individual cables, at others effortlessly removing girders and roofing (that have withstood the full force of winter weather for years).

It was a very well controlled operation around the manse (a scheduled monument), and work is going well to make good the gable end. Using conservation-standard building techniques, it will soon be almost impossible to see that there was ever a building attached.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to my colleagues Craig and Sarah – it’s been a fabulous season with you; to Susan and Angela (at National Trust for Scotland in Inverness); to the QinetiQ staff; to ‘Kilda’s Builders’ (Galliford Try and contractors); the St Kilda Ukulele club; the St Kilda Boogie Boarding club; the ‘Sheepies’ (Soay Sheep Research Project); the skippers and crew of our regular day boats; all the visitors who came on yachts, charters or cruises on Work Parties; and to bird parties, photo parties, or, indeed, any parties!

Three people sit round a long pine table, playing ukuleles. Sheets of music and notes lie on the table.
The ukulele club on St Kilda

It’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of the St Kilda story for the last 6 months and I’ve loved every minute; but for now, this is Kilda Ranger saying thank you, and over and out!

Three boats moored in the calm Village Bay.
From the edge of the world

St Kilda blog

Find out more about what it’s like to work on these incredible islands.

A group of people standing on the jetty on Hirta, St Kilda >