Where is it?

St Kilda. Specifically, Hirta, as it’s actually an archipelago, but is commonly referred to, collectively, as St Kilda. It’s the outermost isle of the Outer Hebrides and is set deep in the north Atlantic. It’s 110 miles off the Scottish mainland and the next stop after it is the Faroe Islands.

Why do you go there?

I first visited in 2021 as part of my research for the historical series I was writing, based upon the true events of the evacuation from the islands in the summer of 1930.

How often do you go?

Since my first trip I have visited annually but it’s not as simple as just deciding to go, which in itself is tricky enough.

I always depart from Skye and it’s a four-hour crossing from there, but if the prevailing wind switches direction and blows south-easterly, no boats can land in Village Bay at all.

Two years ago, having rented a cottage for a week, flown to Inverness and driven across Scotland to Skye, the wind was indeed against us (despite blue skies) and no boats left The Minch all week.

(Image: Alicia Clarke)

How did you discover it?

I first came across St Kilda in a tiny mention in The Times. There was a black and white image of some very stern, hirsute men and the headline: “Ninety years since St Kilda gave up.”

It was the “gave up” which intrigued me and as I started looking into the “whys”, I found plenty of answers. This was no ordinary island and with the highest sea cliffs in Britain and no crops or trees, the islanders lived a scratch existence.

St Kilda was inhabited for more than 2000 years and they had adapted to have incredible cragging and hunting skills. 

What’s your favourite memory?

Walking in the grass and jumping on the rocks behind the cottages on The Street. The village has been preserved by UNESCO and has a ghostly, forlorn atmosphere; you can almost see the children playing and hear the laughter in the silence.

Who do you take?

My husband. He has become an expert at packing our lunches as obviously there are no shops or cafes on the islands. The 12-hour day - eight of which are spent on the boat - is not to be underestimated.

What do you take?

Waterproofs, binoculars, two thermoses of tea, sandwiches, malt loaf and a walking pole to scare off the skuas, which are ground-nesting birds and will dive-bomb you if you get too close to their nests.

What do you leave behind?

Nothing at all - absolutely no litter - just a tip in the collection box.

Sum it up in five words.

Wild. Desolate. Wind-blown. Spectacular. Noble.

What other travel spot is on your wish list?

Hawaii. Not for the beaches, but the deep canyons and gorges inland in the forests. I’d be looking for caves and rock pools. 

The Lost Lover by Karen Swan (Macmillan, £16.99), is published on July 18