View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Sunday, 30 August 2009

29 August 1930

Yesterday, it was 79 years ago since the last few dozen people were evacuated from the archipelago of St Kilda (Hiort), 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides. The move, requested by the people themselves, came in the wake of a decline in population and the increasing problems posed by their remoteness. St Kilda has remained without permanent habitation since, with only Ministry of Defense personnel monitoring the rocket range on Uist and National Trust for Scotland staff looking after the remains of the houses there. Upon departing their shores, the St Kildans left a handful of grain on their tables, alongside the family bible, opened at the chapter Exodus.

A few houses have been restored, and cruiseliners regularly call in the summer. Reaching the islands is still difficult, due to the weather and sea conditions found in the North Atlantic. Efforts have been made to retain the history and culture of the islands, and quite a few books have been written. Yesterday was the first-ever St Kilda day. It is a good thing to celebrate culture. Celebrating an extinct culture in 21st century fashion is something that doesn't sit very easy with me.

Tour of Norse Mills

Yesterday, I went on a guided tour round Norse mills (or what's left of them) around parts of Lewis. According to the guide, there were hundreds of mills around - a figure of 262 was quoted.

The weather on tour

Mill at Cleascro, Achmore

Mill at Breasclete

Scrambling down to the mill site near Tolstachaolais, below

Near the site of a mill at Carloway

Old School centre, Shawbost

Restored mill and kiln, Shawbost

Millsite at Bragar

Picture post - 28 August

On Friday, we made for Garry Beach, which is located 2 miles north of North Tolsta and 15 miles north of Stornoway on the east coast of the island. The weather was completely different to the day before, starting off bright and sunny, but ending with showers.

Coll Beach

Glen Tolsta

Garry - the valley

Garry Beach

The heather is blooming!

Traigh Mhor [the Big Beach] at Tolsta

View south along the east coast of Lewis

Picture post - 27 August

On Thursday, we had use of a car, so after picking up someone in Ness (north Lewis), we headed south to have lunch at the Blackhouse Village in Gearrannan. By late afternoon, we made for Uig, west Lewis. Paid a visit to the wee museum in the community centre at Timsgarry, then headed south for the Top End. Total distance travelled: 135 miles.

Along the road in Ness

Blackhouse Village, Gearrannan

Along the road at Breasclete, north of Callanish

The B8011(M) at Enaclete

Near Mangersta

Waterfall at Brenish

The End of the Road at Mealista

Beyond the End of the Road

Hurricane update - 30 August

Hurricane Jemina, carrying winds of 100 knots (115 mph), is headed northwest some distance offshore from the coast of southwestern Mexico. It could make landfall in the peninsula of Baja California in the next few days, and I do not relish the prospect of a category IV hurricane making landfall there.

Tropical storm Krovanh is headed north in the Pacific and could graze the city of Tokyo in Japan. This is unlikely to reach typhoon strength, but I don't think it is a teaparty to have force 10 to 11 winds in a big city like that. I'll keep an eye on progress there.

In the Atlantic, no formal tropical cyclones, but a disturbance is winding up 1,000 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. NHC is tracking that one closely.

Sunday 30 August

Trying to brighten up on a cold morning. OK, shouldn't complain about 14C, but there's this penetrating wind blowing. Went to the shop up the road to scout for the Saturday papers, but there were none. It appears hardly any came yesterday. Feeling withdrawal symptoms from my daily fix of north news.

It is very quiet here on a Sunday, and the grand total of two cars on the move bears witness to that. Things will liven up in a bit, when traffic heads for the 2.30pm ferry (it's 12.20 now). Otherwise, you could fire off a gun and hit nobody.