Orkney – exploring Hoy and its Old Man

Besides a lot of sightseeing the plan for Orkney was always to go at least on one hike. The Old Man of Hoy seemed liked the best and most interesting site for that. To get to Hoy one needs to take the ferry and this is easier said than done. The planned day for Hoy got canceled because the ferry was full. You might one to look the ferry schedule up ahead and book accordingly. In the end the next day was a much wiser choice because the weather played its part. The sun was out and we had mostly blue sky on the way.

on the way to Hoy @Orkney

Already on the day before while visiting Skara Brae and the neighboring Skaill House, I saw a drawing of the Old Man of Hoy. Maybe not my best picture, but here it is. So this was our destination.

a drawing of the Old Man of Hoy @Skaill House

Leaving the ferry we still had another 20 minutes drive to the parking lot of the trail start. As usual it was a very scenic drive. Nothing in Scotland is ever not scenic. So it took us a bit longer until we got to our starting point.

somewhere on Hoy looking onto Scapa Flow @Orkney

on the way @Hoy

Just in case you are like my companion, who wanted to buy some waterproof gear before starting with the trail, let me show you the extent of Radwick with its public car parking.

sheep and an empty house @Radwick Bothy

Hoy in October is basically ‘dead’. Later, when we looked for a place to get a bit to eat, we learned that nothing was open during the day except the supermarket, which is at the other end of Hoy. The few hotels on the island only opened their dining rooms in the evening. So whatever you need, bring it!

But at the start of the trail we didn’t know and care about that. We each had some water, sturdy shoes, and were ready to get going. The distance clocks in with about 9 km, so we had about 2,5 – 3 hours of walking ahead of us. Honestly after the first 15 minutes I thought I was going to expire on the spot. It was a steep uphill trail, which did eventually peter out though.

already on the easy part of the trail @Hoy

Quite soon after rounding the corner which you can see above, the Old Man of Hoy, which is Britain’s tallest sea stack with 137 m, blinked from afar.

X blends into the scenery nicely. The Old Man of Hoy is right on top of him @Hoy

The picture is misleading though. We thought we could easily reach the Old Man in half an hour. Far from it, there was still a lot of trail ahead of us.

the long walk ahead @Hoy

still walking @Hoy

Finally we made it to the Old Man only to realized I needed to find a better position for my picture.

first look at the Old Man of Hoy @Orkney

The Old Man of Hoy in full @Orkney

If you compare the Old Man with the drawing from above it seems totally different. Not really sure what happened with the hole, anyway it’s gone. The coast along this side of Hoy is beautiful and I am sure it’s amazing to walk the whole coast until Linksness, passing St. John’s Head. You will need to organize a shuttle for that. Since we couldn’t do that and we walked instead just a bit further ahead, before we had to turn back to make to the ferry in time.

further up the coast of Hoy @Orkney

a close up from the coast @Hoy

The walk back was long again and the trail seemed endless. In the end though we finished it all within three hours.

walking back seems like forever @Hoy

At least once we came near Radwick we made a short cut downhill. I still have to laugh thinking about my friend wanting to buy some hiking gear here.

getting near the parking in Radwick @Hoy

This was a beautiful hike and it’s actually quite quick with about three hours. The coast apparently has a lot more to offer besides the Old Man of Hoy, so it is worth exploring. So you need to plan carefully to get everything done. Yours, Pollybert

Let me know what you think

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