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Old Man of Hoy from Rackwick

Orkney Islands Walk

County/Area - Orkney Islands - Isle of Hoy (Orkney)

Author - Lou Johnson

Length - 5.4 miles / 8.8 km    Ascent - 700 feet / 212 metres

Time - 3 hours 20 minutes    Grade - easy/mod

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Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - Old Man of Hoy from Rackwick
Click image to see photo description.

This Orkney Islands walk starts from the lonely hamlet of Rackwick on the island of Hoy and follows a well-trodden path to visit see the sea stack of Old Man of Hoy which rises to 449 feet (137 metres) above the sea on the dramatic west coast of the island. It is worth noting that the weather can be very unpredictable, and you should be prepared for rapidly changing conditions.

The walk starts from the free car park (grid ref. ND202993) which lies at the end of the road from Moaness and Lyness. Out of season this is often a desolate and lonely place but in summer can be surprisingly busy. After parking, exit the car park and take the second track on the left past green refuse bins. The track leads to the back of the beach and then turns sharp right. After 600 metres turn sharp left and join the clear path climbing up the hillside. After gaining height, the path briefly skirts the clifftop before turning north across a wild landscape to eventually arrive at the viewing point for the Old Man of Hoy.

To make the most of your visit its is worth heading north a short distance for a retrospective view of this dramatic section of coast. One feature is Runnarto, where a section of the upper cliff has been eaten away by erosion producing a natural amphitheatre in the cliffs. After completing your exploration return along the path towards Rackwick. Reaching the valley track used at the start of the walk, bear left, and continue past the museum and outdoor centre to join a lane. Follow the lane to the first junction and turn right back down to the car park.

Isle of Hoy - there is a car ferry operating from Houton (west of Kirkwall) to Lyness on the south-eastern coast of Hoy. Day trips are possible although it is worth checking the timetable before making arrangements. A passenger ferry also operates from Stromness to Moaness, also on the east coast of Hoy. Reaching Rackwick is possible by pre-booking a taxi. Accommodation and refreshments on Hoy are limited so again careful research is required before making plans. It is probably easier to take a picnic for this walk.

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