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St Kilda National Nature Reserve

Western Isles

Remote and spectacular, the St Kilda archipelago lies 41 miles west of North Uist and is home to the largest colony of seabirds in northern Europe, including a quarter of the world's population of northern gannets.

The majestic scenery above water is mirrored by cliffs, caves and reefs plunging into the far depths of the ocean. All teem with carpets of anemones, sponges and other life. This and the extraordinary clarity of the water, has made St Kilda renowned as one of the foremost dive sites in Europe.

St Kilda is no less famous for its human history. A fragile community clung on for at least 4,000 years in this most remote of places. It's almost unimaginable how the islanders existed in this harsh enviornment, catching gannets, fulmars and puffins for food, feathers and oil, and farming some meagre crops. A remarkable throwback to the earliest beginnings, the Soay sheep have been preserved on the island almost unchanged in 4,000 years, it is one of the most primitive breeds in the world.

The village on the main island of Hirta was laid out in the 1830s and consists of a crescent of houses, each with cultivated plots. These were typical Hebridean single-roomed blackhouses, which the occupants shared with their cattle in winter.

From the mid 19th century the St Kildans began to lose their self-sufficiency, relying more on imports of food, fuel and building materials and on revenue from tourists. But as contact with the ourside world increased, so too did the islanders' dissatisfaction with the realities of life on St Kilda. Finaly, on 29th August 1930, the islanders were evacuated to the mainland.

In addition to its National Nature Reserve status, St Kilda has been designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument, a National Scenic Area, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Scotland's first natural World Heritage Site, a European Community Special Protection Area, and a marine World Heritage Site.

Each year, National Trust for Scotland working parties conserve and repair buildings, as well as carrying out archaeological work. Details on the work parties are available from NTS Argyll, Lochaber & the Western Isles Regional Office, telephone as above.

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St Kilda National Nature Reserve Postcode for SatNav: IV


+44 (0)1631 570 000 (NTS Regional Office)

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