Hoy and South Walls (Orkney, UK)
On 10 May I joined the Hoy Island tour organized by Steven Rhodes and led expertly by Jo Jones. Hoy derives from the Norwegian for high - its large rounded hills are the highest in the Orkney Islands (off the coast of northern Scotland) and are visible from many locations. The hilly area of north Hoy and west Mainland now form a designated scenic area of Scotland.
This is an example of travel photography, which is both an opportunity and a problem for those who do it. I started taking photographs because my visual memory is so poor that I felt the need for this record of what I saw. That is good enough reason. However, we may also wish to take images that are in themselves interesting or attractive. Unless our travel allows extended residence in an area, this requires quick observation and execution as well as luck with the lighting conditions. I am content with the first reason as I am aware that residents or longer term visitors are able to use their greater knowledge of the area and choice of conditions to make better images. On the other hand, I am the only person standing at a particular spot at that moment and I have to make the best of it. Sometimes I am lucky. On to Hoy.
At this point, the slide show presents the images in my gallery of the trip. For full size viewing, please hover and click the bottom right button. Below the slide show I extract some individual photos with comments.
Cool but glorious sunshine greeted me early in the morning as I made my way to the Houton ferry terminus and then onward to Hoy.
The Scapa Flow museum was closed for renovations, which was unfortunate, but it did allow more time for other stops. Our first was at the village of Longhope on South Walls, which is connected to Hoy by a natural causeway. The harbour includes a number of small fishing vessels as well as the area’s lifeboat. I was surprised to learn that British Lifeboats depend on a voluntary organization to fund their operation. A short distance away is a small building that houses the Lifeboat Museum where you can see the boat that served this area from 1933 to 1962.
The southern part of Hoy and South Walls is mostly low lying farmland like most of Mainland. We stopped at a cemetery in which the statue commemorates the local men who died in the lifeboat disaster of 1969. The lifeboat-man here is looking out to sea - calm on this day.
Scapa Flow is the world’s second largest harbour and a core base for the British fleet in the wars of the last century. It is basically the calmer waters inside a ring of islands some now linked by causeways.
on one of Hoy’s hills, lookng to the east, I took this picture.
On to Rackwick Glen, where we made the short hike to the Dwarfie Stane. It is a tomb carved from stone and deposited in the glen by a retreating glacier. It is unique in northern Europe and its name derives from a legend that it was the home of a dwarf.
Rackwick Bay is stunning on a sunny day when waves still pound the shore and cliffs. I saw some of the 120,000 seabirds that frequent Hoy.
This old stone house is close to the shore with the end facing the water. It is used by campers.
Beyond the north side headland, a walk of some 1.5 hours, sits the famous sea stack known as the old man of Hoy. I was content to see the other sites of the island including the crofting museum high on the hill above the bay.
In the afternoon we returned to to Walls with time for a coffee break before walking along the southern cliff tops and visiting Melsetter House. It includes a small chapel with stained glass window. If you go to Hoy, don’t miss Emily’s Tea Room for excellent coffee and desserts. Suddenly it was time to return to Mainland.