Tuesday, 15 June 2021

The Old Man

Hoy is quite different to the rest of Orkney, with relatively big mountains and spectacular sea cliffs, and the Old Man of Hoy is one of the highest sea stacks in the UK. In truth you don't need to visit Hoy to get the best views of the Old Man, it's far more spectacular from aboard the Hamnavoe, the ferry from Scrabster to Stromness. From the top of the cliff and close up it doesn't look as tall and in fact it is dwarfed by the impressive towering cliffs of St John's Head which rise to over three times the height of the Old Man.

Birds here are the usual Orkney favourites, with fulmars dominating and a full suite of sea birds including great and Arctic skuas. Of particular interest today, many male emperor moths were on the wing and flew past us at speed, refusing to land. Other interesting invertebrates included several green tiger beetles.

St John's Head, the third highest sea cliff in the UK after Conachair on St Kilda and the Kame of Hoy. You can see the Old Man to the right of the photo, looking pretty insignificant. There is often dispute about which is actually the tallest sea cliff in the UK, I think it all depends on what you class as the top of the cliff, e.g. does the cliff have to be shear all of the way down or can it be in steps and if so how large can the steps be before it's no longer a single cliff? Most of the debate I've heard though, seems to be around the placings of Conachair and Foula, with St John's Head third.

The Kame of Hoy from the ferry.
The Old Man of Hoy.

The Old Man from the ferry.

St. John's Head.

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