Canna ….. but St. Kilda?

Woke up to a very wet day on Rum. Wind speeds were up too out of the shelter of Kinloch Bay. No chance to make a push to Lochmaddy where we would be in a position to make an attempt to reach St. Kilda. If we were going to be sea sick this was the day. Winds pushing towards 5/6 on the Beaufort scale, we were rolled and buffeted but out on deck it was exhilarating.

Dark laden skies and seas between Rum and Canna

Heavier Seas

Moving off the pier at Rum before the CalMac arrived, we headed on a short morning sail towards Canna, birthing this time after the CalMac had left. It passed us on route and gave an indication of the sea state. We were kept company by the odd passing Gannet and Great Skuas, which cruised along side us hoping for scraps, we did look like a trawler after all! Auks were few but always present.

Gannet low over a heavy sea


Great Skua or ‘Bonxie’ as it is known locally
Approaching Canna

An Odd Welcome

Didn’t expect to see the graffiti that greeted us on Canna, testimony to those who have visited, but surely there’s a better way than be-spoiling the first impression of the island.

An odd ‘welcome’ to Canna

Wanting to explore wherever we ended up we ventured out in heavy rain to walk across the small bridge and on to the tidal island of Sanday. Visibility was poor so no grand views here but still we all felt Canna was an island to re-visit and explore properly.

The Kylebhan at Canna
Rhu Presbytarian Church, built in 1911 for the Thom family, owners of the Island at the time
Traditionally a Catholic Island, Canna exhibits clear statements of its faith

A community shop gave Mike another opportunity to buy a book; it’s open 24/7 and operates on an honesty basis. Canna has a rich archaeological history and superb wildlife so perfect for a long stay when the weather hopefully would be kinder.

The Community shop, refreshingly open 24/7

Be-draggled Twite and summer plumaged Dunlin and Sanderling were still going about their business but the rain was relentless.

Twite, sheltering from the rain on the Sanday bridge
Summer plumage Sanderling
Dunlin exhibiting their summer black underparts

A short detour took us to A’Chill, once the main settlement on Canna and to an 8th century Celtic cross now missing two of its arms, said to be the result of canon-ball target practice in the Napoleonic wars. The punishment stone is also on the A’Chill site, where legend has it that offenders would have their thumbs jammed into a hole on its side and left for a period be-fitting the crime!

8th Century Celtic Cross with the Punishment Stone in the background
Early Marsh Orchid standing firm against the elements
Bog Asphodel, found on wet boggy moorlands

Mike, Gwenda, Chris and I were keen to see what flowers we could find, but conditions were so bad it was a difficult task.

Back to the Kylebhan drenched and with little space for drying out! We ate, hoping for a change in the weather, particularly in wind speed and direction, which were turing to the south east, the worst possible for trying to reach St. Kilda.

Good friends Chris, Steve, Imogen and our skipper Jim enjoying the dry of Kylebhan

Oh by the way, none of us were sea sick!!

Filed under: Scotland 2018Tagged with: , , ,


  1. Brilliant images – lovely to see places I will not get to visit. The birds are amazing.

  2. Thanks Marilyn, it is indeed an incredible part of the world

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