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The Old Man of Hoy, Hoy

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The Old Man of Hoy is a 449-foot sea stack on the island of Hoy, part of the Orkney archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. Formed from Old Red Sandstone, it is one of the tallest stacks in Britain. The Old Man is popular with climbers, and was first climbed in 1966. Created by the erosion of a cliff through hydraulic action some time after 1750, the stack is no more than a few hundred years old, and may soon collapse into the sea.
The Old Man stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, and can be seen from the Scrabster to Stromness ferry. From certain angles it is said to resemble a human figure.
Winds are faster than 8m/s for nearly a third of the time, and gales occur on average for 29 days a year. Combined with the depth of the sea, which quickly falls to, high-energy waves on the western side of Hoy lead to rapid erosion of the coast.
The Old Man of Hoy is a red sandstone stack and perched on a plinth of basalt rock. It is separated from the mainland by a 60-metre (200 ft) chasm strewn with debris, and has nearly vertical sides with a top just a few metres wide. The rock is composed of layers of soft, sandy and pebbly sandstone and harder flagstones of Old Red Sandstone, giving the sides a notched and slab-like profile.
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The Old Man of Hoy Reviews
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  • Personally I would suggest visiting Skye out of the midge and tourist season. We visited in October and it was still busy! I was slightly put off when we arrived by the number of cars and busses in th...  more »
  • Attention! To see the Old Man from the island, you have to take a longer walk through a spectacular nature reserve! There is no access. For the walk from the parking lot and back you have to reckon 3 hours. Unfortunately, we only found out about 2 hours before the departure of our ferry, so we couldn't see the old man. Poor preparation is punished immediately. I think we have to come back another time, because we don't want to just tick that off.
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  • Looking to hike to the Old Man of Hoy from the Moaness Ferry building? This 13.6 mile out-and-back trail (6.8 miles each way) is moderately difficult with some rocky and muddy spots and a fair bit of elevation towards the end. Start by taking the Old Post Road trail by following signs to Rackwick. You'll end up spending about 3 miles going through a ravine situated between two large hills (Ward Hill and Cuilags). As you approach Rackwick, switch to the Old Man trail. This requires navigating a sheep pasture with marked signs and several gates. The trail goes around the southern tip of Moor Fea hill with some breathtaking views of the coast. Once you spot Old Man in the distance you're less than 2 miles from it. Enjoy!
  • 60-90 minutes walk from the car park at Rackwick Bay. The path can be quite rubbley in places so wear sturdy shoes. The wind can be quite strong too so you’ll be taking your coat on and off. We found it quite difficult to work out how the walk started but basically if you walk back along the road you drove in on for a few hundred yards, take the road to your left then it starts making sense with signs by the hostel etc.
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