Lockdown gave many of us time to reflect about times past and this was when Rob Barlow worked out that he had undertaken almost 250 trips to St Kilda. In fact, his 250th trip in 2020 would be delayed until the company was allowed to commence cruising. This was a milestone that deserved to be recognised once cruising was underway again, especially since 2021 also marked Rob’s 25 years of cruising the Hebrides.
On July 29th, Elizabeth G set off from Oban, bound for the Outer Hebrides and St Kilda, with Rob at the helm. Guests were welcomed on board as always, with fizz and delicious canapes, unaware that their Skipper had an additional reason for making sure they reached their destination. St Kilda is so remote and the weather so unpredictable, getting there cannot be guaranteed. However, Hebrides Cruises has a great record of achieving its goal through years of experience of finding that safe weather window to make the passage across. Wildlife Guide Linsey, Bosun Craig, and Chef Sian made up the rest of the crew to ensure this cruise was extra special.
The first leg of the journey cruised the length of the Sound of Mull, anchoring for the night in Glenmore Bay, off Loch Sunart. The following day, Elizabeth G set off for Canna, one of Rob Barlow’s most favourite anchorages. From there, they steamed across the Minch to the Outer Hebrides, anchoring off Eriskay in South Uist. There was another reason for celebration on board on July 31st as guests Clive and Anne celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. The next day, the destination was the idyllic Monach Isles – one of the delights of a cruise to St Kilda is the amazing places you visit getting there!
On August 2nd, Elizabeth G and all onboard enjoyed a calm, flat crossing to arrive at St Kilda. As Elizabeth G approached Village Bay, Rob said "Well, it's my 250th trip to St.Kilda and I still get excited. I always feel very slightly apprehensive about getting there but it's always magical to slowly cruise along the shoreline of Dun as we enter Village Bay. I never tire of the spectacle of the many thousands of birds of so many varieties crowded on the cliffs and wheeling overhead. Seeing the guests' wonder on their faces as they take in such a dramatic rugged place is a big part of the pleasure of getting there! I always see St.Kilda in a different way no matter how many times I visit. There is a mystery and definitely an atmosphere there. No one could not be impressed by a tour around the stacs and islands; this coastline must rank as one of the most impressive in the world. I’m looking forward to stepping ashore for my 250th visit and hopefully many more!"
Rob set foot on St Kilda for the 250th time at 13.15 on August 2nd 2021. The visit was extra special for him because the guests had such an amazing time. They had a fabulous day walking, including up Conachair, to the lovers stone, with cake and fizz for guests. The cruise around the stacs was as awesome as always. Every trip to St Kilda is amazing but this is one visit that has a very special place in his heart.