Old Man of Hoy
Isle of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland
Distance: 15 miles (24.1 km)
Time: 4-6 hours
Surface: Footpath, Moorland
The Old Man of Hoy trail is located on the sparsely populated Orkney Islands which lie off the north coast of Scotland and mostly offer low-lying gentle landscapes-apart from the Isle of Hoy. “Hoy” means “high” in Norse, and this is a spectacularly mountainous island. Its famous landmark is high, too: a 450-foot (137-m) pinnacle of red sandstone standing alone in the wild Atlantic off the west coast. This iconic sea stack was first climbed live on BBC TV in 1966, the conquering team led by British Everest climber Sir Chris Bonington.
There is, however, an easier way to see the Old Man of Hoy up close, and that’s to walk this circular route around the top of Hoy. The Old Man of Hoy trail starts and finishes at the pier, where the Strom fess ferry arrives, and follows a trail down through the glen via rare patches of woodland to the tiny remote hamlet of Rackwick, where a few ancient stone cottages with turf roofs huddle next to a rugged pebble and sand beach facing the North Atlantic.
Follow the Old Man of Hoy footpath up the heather moor and grassy cliffs to a spot known as Tuaks of the Boy, a convenient and natural viewing platform jutting out right next to the Old Man of Hoy. The path then heads north across uneven moorland, via a picturesque spot named Goo of the Sow. At St. John’s Head, peer over the edge as closely as you dare-these are the highest vertical sea cliffs in the United Kingdom.
The Old Man of Hoy trail turns east here across unmarked wilderness. You are heading for the top of Cuilags, a small mountain of 1,427 feet (435 ml. From here you can look out across the whole of the island, the historic harbor of Scapa Flow, and the rest of the Orkneys.Then it’s downhill all the way back to the ferry.