I wondered if you could circulate information about a trip I am running which may be of interest to your groups members. This trip is a great chance to visit and explore these remote islands, in the company of 2 of the most experienced men on the seas off Lewis, Murdo MacDonald and Murty Campbell
1st to 7th June
Based on the MV Cuma, The Islands on the Edge are amazing, whilst St Kilda is the jewel in the crown, don't underestimate the others, all are special. We plan to visit St Kilda, Monachs, Scarp, and if the seas allow The Flannans. A chance to see an amazing variety of sea and bird life. The cliffs of St Kilda are filled with bird life as are the skies above. The sea team with life, we may see, Basking Shark, Dolphin or Whales including Orcas. Or a chance to tick off the trig points on all the islands.
The trip will have a mix of kayakers and walkers
Kayak guide - Murty Campbell, 30 years on the Stornoway Lifeboat, Murty was the Coxswain of the Lifeboat and has the most amazing stories of adventures on the seas off Lewis
Skipper - Murdo MacDonald, Murdo has had a lifetime at sea, after 20 years as a lobster fisherman off St Kilda he transformed the Cuma and has been running trips there for many, many years Walking guide - Elaine Goldsmith IML, WEMSI -WFR
Islands on the Edge
You will be collected from Stornoway Ferry terminal and taken to the MV Cuma which is berthed in Miavaig on Loch Roag. If the weather is on our side we may head off that afternoon down to spend a night in Loch Resort or off Scarp.
You can drive to Ullapool and leave your car there. For those wishing to use public transport, there is a bus to Ullapool from Inverness which connects with the ferry as does the bus back on the next Friday. For those wishing to kayak, we will make arrangements if you are bringing a kayak, these depend on numbers of kayaks.
.Sunday to Thursday
We are on board the MV Cuma. Our plan is to travel down the coast taking in the islands, whilst the goal of the trip is to get to St Kilda, don’t underestimate the other islands out there, they are all special, with hidden gems. All have trig points for those who want to tick off trigs
Scarp - Inhabited until the 1970's was the the most westerly inhabited island after the St Kildans were evacuated. It was also the site of the famous Rocket Post. There is a lovely hill on the west, remains of the village with long house and school. There is the most photogenic of Bays between Scarp and Harris, there are more shades of blue and turquoise than you can imagine.
Taransay - Made famous by the reality Tv programme Castaway, Taransay was inhabited until 1974. There will again be a chance to explore and a walk to the highest point, with views out to Seilebost, Hushinish and Harris.
Monachs - These low lying islands were attached at low tide to North Uist until the 17th century. The last families left in 1942. There is plenty to explore with an old village, hidden well, lighthouse and amazing machair land.
The MV Cuma can anchor off these island and we can be transferred to them by Tender in order to explore them
We will then head out to St Kilda which towers out of the sea. We will tour the islands taking in Hirta, Stac Armin, Stac Lea and Boreray. We will anchor in Village Bay on Hirta where there will be a chance to go ashore and explore the island and village, this is the only St Kilda island we can land on.
Our journey back will be via the Flannan isles, with its lighthouse immortalised in the poem about the disappearance of the lighthouse keepers in 1900
There will be a chance to get off, walk and explore the islands (not the Flannans). All have amazing and very diverse landscapes. There are long histories of the isles, all having had populations in the past who have left them due to their harsh environments. Some like Hirta have very unique flora and fauna, due to their isolation.
Whilst this is our plan unfortunately the weather and seas are not under our management. We will make the most of what nature throws at us and make every effort to get you safely and comfortably around the islands. This may be a once in a lifetime trip but getting out to St Kilda at any cost is not going to make it a good experience. The stats are that about 40% of people who try to get to St Kilda get there the first time, Murdo and the Cuma got 14 of their 16 trips out last year. If we don’t get to St Kilda we will take you to other amazing places, there is never a boring day out on the Edge, the skies team with birds like Gannets, Gulls, Skua, Cormorant, Puffins and more, and the water is filled with Dolphins, Porpoise, Minke Whale, Orca, Basking Shark, all just waiting to be spotted. To give you the best chance of getting to St Kilda we may have to change the order we do the islands in, we need to make the most of any weather windows we get.
All meals are provided during this time. Lunches will be simple sandwiches, fruit, crisps and biscuits, they will be done as packed lunches if we are off exploring islands.
Our evenings on the boat are filled with chat and stories. We are lucky to have 2 great characters in Murdo and Murty, with long histories in the seas of the Islands on the Edge.
8.30 am departure from the Cuma after breakfast.
We will head to Callanish and the Standing Stones, where you will have time to soak in the atmosphere and explore the visitor centre. Then on to Carloway Broch before heading to Stornoway for the ferry back to the mainland.
2pm our ferry departs. We will have a picnic lunch provided by the Cuma which you can have whilst taking in the Minch crossing. We arrive back into Ullapool at around 4.40pm
MV Cuma accommodation
The MV Cuma was initially constructed for scientific marine research. The hull is of timber and was built by Samuel White of Cockenzie in 1967 to Lloyds+100 A1 specifications. The vessel was converted and upgraded for commercial diving and cruising charter operations and complies with Maritime & Coastguard Agency Code of Practice Regulations. The vessel is 18.5 meters long and is powered by a 200 horsepower Gardner engine, which is renowned for its reliability. Ample 240 Volt power is delivered by a quiet running generator. Comfortable accommodation is provided for 12 persons in two berth cabins each with hot and cold water. There is also separate crew accommodation. There is a large deck saloon with ample seating and large viewing windows. There are also 2 toilets and two showers. The accommodation is centrally heated throughout. Berths are sailing style, the upper one has limited headroom and you stand on the lower to get to the upper. The toilets are pump driven heads and a bit noisy.
Murty was born and brought up on Lewis, he served on the Stornoway Lifeboat for 30 years, where he was Coxswain for 12 years. Having kayaked since the mid 80's, he is a level 4 sea kayak coach. Over the years Murty has paddled many amazing trips, including out to the Flannans, to Sula Sgeir and North Rona, with many trips guiding around St Kilda. As well as an amazing knowledge of the Islands on the Edge, Murty has great stories of life on the Western Isles, on both land and sea.
Elaine is an International Mountain Leader, experienced kayaker and a WEMSI - Wilderness First Responder.
A passion for travel has meant that Elaine has travelled all over the world, often to the less visited parts. A large garage (toybox) houses bikes, kayaks and skis, and within 2 hours from home she can make the most of all these toys.
Her love of travel is fuelled by an interest in Archaeology, food and a particular interest in women travellers of the 19th Century. She lives to the motto Sieze the day. .get on with it!
Our Skipper - Murdo MacDonald
Murdo has had many years at sea, from his years in shipping to lobster fishing off St Kilda and then as the Skipper of the Cuma. His knowledge of the Islands on the Edge and how to get the best from what the weather throws at us is second to none. His skill with the Cuma is astounding, affording us the best chances of getting into islands in places that are best for kayakers or even just to get ashore. It is always a pleasure to spend an hour listening to Murdo's stories of life on the west of Lewis and at sea.