Sailing to the Shiants on a hot June day

Shiant Islands

Shiant Islands

The Shiant Islands really piqued my interest after watching a TV programme called 'The Last Seabird Summer' which featured the owner of the islands; Adam Nicolson. He was investigating the reasons behind the dramatic downturn in the numbers of seabirds in the UK and Iceland. The Shiants are an important breeding place for many different seabirds and have recently undergone a mass cull of the black rats that had made their home there after swimming ashore from ships many years ago.

Yacht off Shiant Islands

I was on a week's sailing holiday when I finally made it to the islands. After some quite rainy and windy weather and an abandoned dash to St Kilda, we had spent a couple of nights off the beautiful island of Taransay, before making our way to Loch Eport in North Uist. The forecast for the next day was good with strong southerlies and helpful tides, and we set off at 6am heading for The Shiants.

Swimming on the Shiants

We landed by dinghy on the pebbly beach between two hills and as we didn't have long there I headed up the first hill for views over the yacht and the arch in the cliffs, and over towards the Isle of Lewis. I love to have a swim off all the islands I visit, so I squeezed that in as well, and swam under the dark cliffs watching my fellow sailors on  my low horizon making their way back to the yacht.

Swimming on the Shiants

That evening we anchored off the village of Lemreway, and it was hot and still. I hung my swimming costume over the rails to dry. The others wanted to stay aboard but I had spotted a hill nearby so one of my fellow sailors kindly rowed me to the shore, and I walked up to the top and revelled in the new view of The Shiants with the Isle of Skye beyond.

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