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The Old Man of Hoy

On Orkney's south island of Hoy (the word means 'high' in the old Norse language) stands "The Old Man of Hoy".

The Old Man is the Orkney Islands most famous seastack. It's really not so old in the grand scheme of things. They think that it was created in the 17th century by a series of fierce storms that hit the headland on the west side of the island. The storms separated the seastack from the rest of the headland. Erosion continues and it's thought that it is only a matter of decaded, not centuries, before it collapses.

The hiking path from the waterside town of Rackwick is good, though steep, taking about an hour each way. It isn't the difficulty of the path itself, but the heavy wind and likely rain that present the challenge.

Here is my photo document of our ascent.

The park service has kindly placed a nice marker at the beginning of the trail. It warns of the time commitment required to make the trip.


Ten minutes into the walk the next sign is a bit less encouraging. But, as it turns out the reference to climbing was really just a warning that if the wind blows you off the edge of the cliff, you shouldn't expect someone will come save you.


Another five minutes and the third sign appeared. Just a friendly little reminder of which way you should be hiking.


Half-way there and we begin to see what they were talking about in sign #2. Here the fourth and final sign restated the obvious. My hair standing straight up without the assistance of mousse or gel gives you an idea of the force of the wind.


Forty-five minutes in and we think we see a horizon. Does this mean we have arrived?


Well, not quite. But at least we can now SEE our destination for the first time. But, just because we can see the top of the Old Man, doesn't mean we don't have a lot of walking still to do. And from this prospective, we begin to wonder if it's going to be a dissappointment.


OK, YES. It's worth it. All 450 feet of it! The rain stopped and the sun broke through just as we arrived. The vivid red sandstone almost glowed. To give you perspective. That red speck you see in the upper left corner of the picture is a hiker's jacket.


Next post will be some video we took while at the top.

Comments (1)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Deborah, these are amazing photos! It sounds like a very adventurous hike. The views are amazing. What an incredible seastack to see in person.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Deborah responds: Thanks, Kathy. It wasn't 'adventurous' in the same sense as being scary or trecherous. We were mostly just hiking up a steep path on a big, wide open hill with crazy wind. So, we really weren't in danger if we stayed away from the edge of the cliff.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 12, 2009 8:48 PM.

The previous post in this blog was SSB Week 6 - Savory Smoked Salmon Cheesecake.

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