I always want to sing the Run Rig song “At the Edge of the World” when I think about St Kilda. This was our third attempt to dive St Kilda and this time we got there and had 3 spectacular days diving under huge cliffs. My main memory is surfacing after a dive and looking up at the sky to see thousands of sea birds flying around - skuas, gannets, puffins, guillemots, shearwaters, fulmars, cormorants, seagulls - I’m not a twitcher but it was a great end to a dive.
We set off from Leverburgh in Harris, joining Lewis and Harris BSAC on the Gaelic Rose. This is definitely a liveaboard for the "rough and toughty" diver! The first day was windy so we dived locally to Harris diving a wreck and a scenic reef. The vis was good considering the conditions. Day 2 and St Kilda was still not definite (the islands are remote with limited anchorage) so another local dive and then the skipper decided to go for it. 3 hours later we started to see the cliffs in the distance and another hour till we arrived.
The scenery out there is spectacular - huge cliffs (highest sea cliffs in the British Isles) that the islanders used to climb to harvest sea bird eggs! And underwater the cliffs continue down with loads of swim throughs, caves and cracks. All the walls are festooned with jewel anemones, plumose anenomies, dahlia anenomies, nudibrancs and numerous different sponges and sea squirts. It is all very colourful- and this vista is interspersed with the usual crustacean life of crabs, lobsters and shrimps. We also saw a sea mouse. On the surface we saw sperm whales, minke whales and porpoises.
We managed to visit the main village on Hirta. Soay sheep roamed around the single street of houses, showing the hard life the locals had before the last 36 left in 1930.
The the fog came in so we set off back to Harris. Our final day diving was cancelled as we couldn’t see the harbour boys for the fog. And 10 miles up the road we emerged from a wall of fog to beautiful sunny weather and the beautiful beaches of Harris.