A Trip to the Isles

A couple of weekends ago Zoe Timmers and I caught the ferry over the Hoy to explore Orkney’s 2nd largest island.

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We took the small passenger ferry from Stromness to the North side of Hoy and were guided around the island by a lovely chap called Albert, a life long resident of the island.

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Albert dropped us off right at the foot of the hill and we hiked over the brae, cutting through the bracken covered hills, (soon overtaken by a group of much fitter French students) and walked along the edge of impossibly high cliffs (the highest in the UK) before finally reaching the Old Man of Hoy.

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The Old Man, (as the locals call it) is a 137 meter tall sea stack formed from red sandstone. I’ve seen it so many times passing back and forth on the ferry to the mainland, the Old Man looking like an abstract shape in the distance, it’s impossible to understand how high it is until you are really up there.

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We hung around taking photos, ate lunch and chatted with the French students and other friends we made along the way.

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After heading back down the hillside, Zoe and I took the trail to Rackwick beach with it’s huge boulders and rocks. If we had more time, and were a little braver we might have gone in for a swim but we had a tight schedule and Albert was waiting to show us more sights.

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Hoy has about 270 folk living on the island, though it looks like it would be much less. Dotted around the hills are beautiful tiny ‘but an’ bens’ – which are traditional stone dwellings. I love the way the wild grass just surrounds the houses and blends them into the landscape.

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It wasn’t long before we had to be back at the pier to catch the ferry home but I have a feeling I’ll be back soon. A weekend in the wild hills of Hoy, without traffic and wifi has to the ultimate modern escape!

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Zoe is a talented photographer and professional Instagrammer, as well as an excellent travel buddy. You can see some of the images she took during her stay for orkney.com here.