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Adventures in Hoy: Exploring Nature, Wildlife, and the Old Man of Hoy


Welcome to "Adventures in Hoy," where we invite you to embark on a virtual journey of exploration, nature, and unforgettable experiences. I'm Matt, your guide to endless conversations and knowledge. Today, we're setting sail to the mystical island of Hoy. From cascading waterfalls to soaring peaks, my heart beats for the beauty of nature. But our passions extend beyond the great outdoors; we're storytellers at heart, here to immerse you in tales of adventure, knowledge, and creativity.



Our adventure begins with a journey from the picturesque landscapes of Wales to the rugged shores of Orkney. Buckle up as we navigate the seas, learn from the locals, and uncover the hidden gems of Hoy. Whether you're seeking knowledge, inspiration, or simply a friendly conversation, I'm here to be your virtual companion. Adventure awaits in every keystroke!


Arrival in Scrabster, Stromness and Hoy


Embark on our journey from Wales to the enchanting island of Hoy. Discover the beauty of Snowdonia and the excitement of reaching Orkney's rugged shores.


Our adventure kicks off in Wales, a land of stunning natural beauty. We've traveled over 600 miles to reach Thurso, the gateway to the Orkney Islands. This is where our journey truly begins.


As we arrive in Scrabster Thurso, we find comfortable accommodations at the Weigh Inn Hotel. This hotel has chalet accommodations and ample parking, making it the perfect place to organize our kit for the adventure ahead room 31 was a great choice.



With Thurso behind us, we board the North Link ferry, the "Hamnavoe," bound for the mystical Orkney archipelago. Feel the sea breeze on your face as we cross the Pentland Firth and approach the shores of Orkney.



Once we reach Orkney, a smaller foot passenger boat takes us to Moaness on the island of Hoy. Moaness boasts a passenger building with amenities like a waiting room, toilets, warm water, power sockets, books, and local information boards. It's a modern and clean facility that welcomes us to the island.


Orkney Stromness


Albert and his wife operate a shuttle service on Hoy, making it convenient for foot passengers to get around the island. You can reach them at 01856791315 to arrange transportation.



On Hoy, there are typically two boats a day during the week basically the school run in the morning and returning in the afternoon with a limited service on Sundays. And don't forget to visit the good pub on Orkney if there are any delays.


Rackwick: The Gateway to Adventure


Experience the magic of Rackwick, a hidden gem on Hoy's west coast. From bothy stays to beachcombing, we unveil the secrets of this remote haven.


Step into Rackwick, an oasis of tranquility nestled on Hoy's west coast. This remote haven serves as our basecamp for the thrilling escapades that lie ahead.


Our journey leads us to the charming Rackwick Bothy, a rustic refuge amid stunning landscapes. This cozy shelter features a wood burner and offers unforgettable views. During our stay, we experienced the ambiance and made it our home-away-from-home.


Rackwick reveals its natural treasures as we explore its red sandstone sea cliffs and collect driftwood from its fine sand beaches. Our beachcombing adventures left us with both beautiful memories and wood for our evening fires.



In Rackwick, there are toilets available for convenience. However, it's worth noting that drinking water needs to be boiled for safety. With the bothy secure and our preparations complete, we're ready for a restful night's sleep before our next adventure.


As Rackwick welcomes us with open arms, we'll uncover its hidden treasures and prepare for the exhilarating days ahead.


Hiking to the Old Man of Hoy


Join us on a seven-mile hike to the iconic Old Man of Hoy. Traverse cliff edges and witness the breathtaking sea stack that rises majestically from the sea.


Our journey through Hoy's enchanting landscapes takes us deeper into its heart. Today, we set our sights on the Old Man of Hoy, a legendary sea stack that has captivated the hearts of adventurers and climbers for generations.



From Rackwick, we embark on a seven-mile hike, initially steep but soon becoming an easy walk along a well-defined footpath. As the sun bathes the landscape in its golden light, we catch our first glimpse of the sea stack rising majestically above the cliffs. It's a sight that takes our breath away.



The Old Man of Hoy stands tall at 137 meters, and the exposure from the sea cliff edge is both terrifying and exhilarating. Our hearts race as we stand in awe of this natural wonder, surrounded by the vastness of the sea.


We decide to explore further, making our way back over the tops and dropping down, crossing a gorge. Our journey takes us through the pass, a due east direction leading us towards new adventures.


4. Return Journey and Terrain


Navigate the challenging terrain of Hoy, from peat bogs to grassy hills. Learn about the essential gear and techniques for a safe return journey.


Exploring Hoy's diverse terrain isn't just about the sights; it's also about being well-prepared. Here are some tips and tricks we've gathered to make your adventure on this rugged island as smooth as possible:


Essential Gear:

- Rucksack for carrying essentials

- Waterproofs to stay dry in unpredictable weather

- Walking poles for stability on uneven terrain

- A reliable drinking container, cup, and eating utensils

- A warm sleeping bag for comfortable nights

- A tent for shelter if needed

- A JetBoil or portable stove for cooking

- Spare socks for those unexpected wet moments

- A washing kit to stay fresh

- A compass and the Orkney OS Explorer 462 map

- A head torch for navigating in low light

- Food supplies and spare clothing

- A hat and gloves to keep warm


Practical Considerations:

- While water from the tap in Hoy's waiting room is drinkable, it's advisable to boil water for safety.

- Carry earplugs for a peaceful night's sleep, especially if you're sharing accommodations.

- Candles can be a valuable resource for conserving head torch batteries, ensuring you have light when needed.


An Enchanting Night

During one unforgettable night, we had the chance to listen to more than a thousand Canadian geese take flight. The sound of their wings flapping and the resonance of their calls filled the night air. Above us, a vast formation of geese soared, their silhouettes outlined against the starlit sky.


The symphony of their flight, the calls that echoed through the night, and the sheer number of geese above us created an unforgettable experience. It was a moment when we felt intimately connected to the island's wildlife and its nocturnal activities.


It's encounters like these that remind us of the wonder and beauty that exists in the natural world, and they leave an indelible mark on our hearts. These moments of wildlife wonder, the chorus of nature, are the hidden treasures of an adventure like this, ones that cannot be planned but are cherished when they occur.


5. Language and Heritage


Explore the linguistic quirks of Welsh and enjoy the humor of language mix-ups. Learn about Bob's Welsh heritage and the lessons learned from his upbringing.


Our adventures aren't just about the landscapes; they're about the people we meet along the way. Bob, a companion on our journey, brings a unique touch to our exploration.


Bob grew up in a Welsh-speaking family, deeply connected to the heritage and culture of Wales. In addition to outdoor skills like hunting and fishing, his upbringing instilled in him a profound respect for animals and the environment.



As we traveled together, Bob's heritage enriched our experience. His reverence for nature and his humorous anecdotes about language mix-ups added a unique dimension to our adventure.


Our diverse backgrounds and experiences became a source of learning and camaraderie. We realized that the beauty of exploration isn't just in the landscapes but also in the connections forged with fellow travelers.


6. Practical Tips and Kit List


Plan your own adventure with our comprehensive kit list. We cover everything from rucksacks to head torches, ensuring you're well-prepared for your Hoy journey.


If you're planning to embark on an adventure like ours, it's essential to be well-prepared. Here's a comprehensive kit list to help you make the most of your journey:


Essential Gear:

- Rucksack for carrying essentials

- Waterproofs to stay dry in unpredictable weather

- Walking poles for stability on uneven terrain

- A reliable drinking container, cup, and eating utensils

- A warm sleeping bag for comfortable nights

- A tent for shelter if needed

- A JetBoil or portable stove for cooking

- Spare socks for those unexpected wet moments

- A washing kit to stay fresh

- A compass and the Orkney OS Explorer 462 map

- A head torch for navigating in low light

- Food supplies and spare clothing

- A hat and gloves to keep warm


Practical Considerations:

- While water from the tap in Hoy's waiting room is drinkable, it's advisable to boil all other water for safety.

- Carry earplugs for a peaceful night's sleep, especially if you're sharing accommodations.

- Candles can be a valuable resource for conserving head torch batteries, ensuring you have light when needed.


With this kit list in hand, you'll be well-equipped for your own adventure on the captivating island of Hoy.


Local Encounters

Meet the locals of Hoy, from fellow anglers to environmental educators. Hear their stories and gain insights into the island's culture and wildlife.


One of the joys of travel is connecting with the people who call a place home. On Hoy, we had the privilege of meeting a diverse range of locals, each with their unique stories to share.


As we ventured around the island, we encountered fellow anglers, fishermen casting their lines into the island's rich waters. Their tales of the sea and the camaraderie they shared left a lasting impression.


We also crossed paths with an environmental educator who opened our eyes to Hoy's rich wildlife. He spoke passionately about the white-tailed eagle and the golden eagle nesting on Hoy. In addition, we learned that a variety of whales, including minkes, orcas, and bluefin whales, can be seen in the area. Not to mention the presence of rabbits, hares, and Canadian geese.


These encounters deepened our understanding of the island's culture and its natural treasures. They reminded us that travel is not just about the places we visit but also the people we meet along the way.


Culinary Delights


Savor the flavors of Hoy and the Orkney Islands. From fresh catches to local cuisine, we share our culinary discoveries.


Exploring a new place also means savoring its flavors. Hoy and the Orkney Islands have their culinary delights to offer, and we were eager to indulge in their offerings.


In Stromness, we encountered a delightful surprise. On the docks, if you're traveling a short journey, you can purchase lobster for under £10 each. A taste of the sea, fresh and flavorful, right at your fingertips.



On the mainland of Scotland, near Thurso, we stocked up on food supplies at Lidl, ensuring we had everything we needed for our adventures on Hoy. A nearby charity shop offered an unexpected find—a 45-liter backpack that made our journey easier and more comfortable.


As we ventured through Hoy, we also enjoyed local cuisine and fresh catches, experiencing the island's culinary treasures. These culinary discoveries added a delightful dimension to our adventure, proving that exploration extends to the palate.


Reflections and Lessons


Reflect on the journey's impact and the lessons learned. Discover how sharing experiences can deepen friendships and appreciation for the great outdoors.


As our adventure on Hoy nears its conclusion, it's time for reflection. The experiences we've shared, the places we've explored, and the people we've met have left an indelible mark on our hearts.


Our journey was not just about the physical landscapes and the wonders of nature. It was about the bonds formed with fellow travelers, the lessons learned from Bob's Welsh heritage, and the connections made with locals who shared their passion for the island's wildlife.


One key lesson we've taken away from this adventure is that travel is not just about ticking off destinations; it's about immersing ourselves in the culture, nature, and stories of the places we visit. It's about forging connections, broadening our horizons, and gaining a deeper appreciation for the world around us.


As we bid farewell to Hoy, we carry with us not just memories but a newfound perspective. Our adventure might have reached its end, but the stories and experiences we've gathered will continue to inspire us on our next voyage.


So, whether you're seeking knowledge, inspiration, or simply a friendly conversation, remember that adventure awaits in every keystroke, and I'm here to be your virtual companion on this journey of discovery.



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