We arrived in Village Bay just before midnight, as the last daylight sank into calm Atlantic waters. The UK’s highest sea cliffs loomed before us, their tops shrouded in mist. We dropped anchor into glass-like water; the gales were behind us, high pressure had settled in, as we did, for three nights.
We dived around Hirta and Boreray, and explored the ruined village, abandoned in 1930 when the last 36 St Kildans were evacuated to the mainland. From the rib, we looked up at seabird colonies on the Stacs and marveled at St Kildans’ survival by harvesting seabirds. The initiation ritual now made sense: young single men had to go to a narrow point on an exposed cliff top, stand on one leg, and reach down and touch their ankle. This would prove their ability to provide for a family.
Underwater, vertical walls dropped into the deep. Exposed walls were scrubbed clean by wild Atlantic storms, while those with more shelter were carpeted with brightly coloured dahlia, plumose, and jewel anemones. Crabs and lobsters hid in crevices, Devonshire cup coral clung to rock, jelly-like hydroid medusae floated past, our torch beams picked out colour and life everywhere. Caves and arches were waiting to be explored. Visibility was spectacular, at more than 25 metres. Watch this 30-second video to peek into the most remote corner of Britain’s underwater world.