The Queen’s Baton caused a stir when it reached its most westerly point on its tour of Scotland with a 90-minute visit to St Kilda yesterday.
Arriving by helicopter, the baton’s journey to the island 41 miles off Benbecula thrilled the 70 or so tourists who were visiting on the day.
They cheered as bearer Colin Macleod of Stornoway emerged from the aircraft and took snaps with their cameras.
The visitors almost forgot they were there to view St Kilda’s stunning scenery and unique wildlife.
They were joined by the 23 Qinetiq radar station crew and National Trust for Scotland (NTS) staff, all eager to watch the action.
Clutching the baton, Mr Macleod walked up the ancient village street, astonishing a group of day-trippers inside one of the preserved stone-built cottages when he popped in.
St Kilda seabird officer Gina Prior said: “There was a nice community atmosphere. People took lots of photos and were able to actually hold the baton, which was nice.”
The baton was transported by air, sea and land yesterday as it hopped between a series of Hebridean islands from dawn to dusk.
Captain Iagan Macinnes was surprised when the baton appeared in the wheelhouse of CalMac’s MV Loch Alainn, sailing from Barra to Eriskay, to commence the second and final leg of its visit to the Western Isles.
Mr Macinnes said the baton was “very impressive”.
He added: “It’s not every day we get a turn-up like this at seven o’clock in the morning.”
Returning the favour, he diverted course so baton security crew could view seals thrashing about in the sea.
CalMac’s public affairs officer, David Cannon, said it was particularly apt the baton went by sea as it is the main form of transport for islanders.
He said the firm was “absolutely delighted to be playing a part in such a historic event”.
The baton which contains the Queen’s message to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was piped on to Eriskay soil by Seumas Campbell.
The first relay event of the day took place on the causeway-linked island of South Uist.
People there are particularly excited about the games as local girl Kerry Macphee, of Kilphedar, has made history by becoming the first female from the Outer Hebrides to represent Scotland at the event.
The 28-year-old Gaelic-speaking mountain biker is also the only native islander to be selected for the games for half a century.
In recent months, she has been a games ambassador, touring Uist schools and encouraging children to get involved in sport and healthy living.
Yesterday, a crowd turned up at her former school in Daliburgh to see the baton in their own community.
They applauded and waved flags made out of the official Glasgow 2014 Harris Tweed fabric as Ronnie Macphee jogged down the road holding the baton high.
The 45-year-old staff member at the South Uist rocket range was nominated for his volunteering work with a local youth club.
An “excited and nervous” Mr Macphee was delighted Uist was included in the baton tour.
The baton tour also took in Benbecula and after the whirlwind flight to St Kilda hopped over to North Harris on its way to Ness, the most northerly part of the Western Isles, before ending its island trip in front of a huge crowd in Stornoway last night.
Today, it will sail away on the ferry to Ullapool for the next leg of its Highlands tour.