Hoy - Orkney

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  • Looking down at the Orkney coastline and the Old Man of Hoy
    The Old Man of Hoy
  • Smooth stones on the beach at Rackwick, Hoy
  • The signpost giving directions for the footpath to Rackwick on the island of Hoy, Orkney
    The signpost giving directions for the footpath to Rackwick on the island of Hoy, Orkney

Follow this itinerary of Hoy and uncover the fascinating wartime heritage of the island. Look out for wildlife and visit exciting attractions along the way.

If travelling by car, begin your journey by taking the ferry from Houton to Lyness. Enjoy spectacular scenery and look out for seals and seabirds as you cross. Depart the ferry at Lyness and visit the Lyness Naval Base and Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, situated near the ferry port at Lyness. The Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum houses an important record of the role the Royal Navy played in Orkney during both World Wars. The centre provides a comprehensive series of interpretative displays, as well as being home to a fascinating outside collection of military vehicles and guns. Have lunch in the café overlooking the bay and admire the stunning scenery and fascinating history of the area.

Take a scenic drive south to Hackness Martello Tower and Battery on the tidal island of South Walls. Hackness Martello Tower and Battery are part of the extensive military remains on the island of Hoy. The tower and battery were built in the early 19th century to provide defence for British convoys at the height of the Napoleonic War. The barrack room furniture and other military memorabilia give an idea of life at the barracks and visitors can stand on the tower and take in the view towards Scapa Flow.

The astonishing diversity of wrecks, along with the fascinating stories behind them, makes Scapa Flow a world-renowned location for all those interested in maritime history. Continue your exploration by booking an unforgettable scuba diving experience or a boat trip around the historical waters.

Head north along the coast for around 45 minutes by car, and set off on foot for 30 minutes to visit the Dwarfie Stane, the only rock-cut tomb in Britain, thought to date back to 3000 BC. According to Sir Walter Scott it was the residence of the Troll, a legendary Norse dwarf in his novel The Pirate. The stone features some interesting Victorian graffiti including Latin and Persian lettering and is situated in beautiful woodland scenery.

Follow the road for a further five minutes and arrive at Berriedale Wood, the most northerly woodland in Britain. This sheltered ravine with its cascading burn holds many species of plants otherwise uncommon or extinct in Orkney. Take a stroll around the woodland and the nearby RSPB Hoy Reserve, home to several pairs of nesting peregrine falcons.

Finish your day with a walk to the spectacular Old Man of Hoy, one of Orkney’s most famous landmarks. The Old Man of Hoy is a 450 ft sea stack, near Rackwick. Enjoy the stunning views from the clifftops over to St John's Head, the UK's highest vertical cliffs. Allow yourself three hours to complete a round trip walk from the beautiful Rackwick Bay to the Old Man of Hoy as the terrain is rugged and the walk is moderately demanding.

Finish your tour on Hoy, returning by the same road to the ferry port at Lyness for the last boat of the day. Or why not book accommodation on Hoy before you go and make the most of what this island has to offer?