TWO SNAILS (plus a dog and a dragon)

Hoy, 2015

14th - 17th August

Part I

We left home on the midday ferry on Friday, with a booking for Hoy via Houton on the final ferry of the day. All went smoothly and we found ourselves in the queue at Houton with 90 minutes in hand.

It began to rain.

Houton Ferry Terminal


We bought our tickets from the friendly lady in the office. I took a handful of photographs and we walked the dog, then settled in to listen to the radio until the boat came in.

Loading was a fast and friendly business.

See the page on Orkney Ferries for further detail on the service from Houton.

This was our first visit to Hoy and I was eager to sit out on deck and to take photographs. Unhappily, the weather did not play ball and the rain became heavier, the visibility more poor. We settled for travelling in Brunhilde, although we could have used the downstairs lounge it seemed not worth the effort as the crossing takes only half an hour or so. We passed the time by amusing ourselves with the GPS lady and were delighted to find that the GPS unit knew that we were on board the Hoy Head and sailing for Hoy.


Disembarking at Lyness was similarly fast and friendly and we set an immediate course for Rackwick Bay, noting as we passed by the remnants of war-time Hoy. Hoy is a magnificent place for those of us who love pointing our cameras at a bit of beautiful decay. It is a positive rust heaven

Lyness to Rackwick

I was unprepared for the beauty of Hoy. I knew that there were hills there, the highest hills on Orkney but had not registered in my mind the fact that they are gorgeous hills. The combination of the stunning landscape, adorned as it is with endless swathes of wild flowers, with the adjacent beauty of Scapa Flow and the remaining Orkney islands beyond... well, I don't have the words to do it justice. Nor, alas, do I have the photos of our initial impressions because of that damned rain. Yes, even in the rain and increasing gloom, it was wonderful. 
I had been unprepared also for the stab of homesickness that came with the hills and the heather - I managed to miss both Yorkshire and the Southern Uplands at the same time. As for the flowers - they came as a complete surprise. We have them here too but on Hoy, they are simply everywhere, and in such numerous variety as to be entirely startling. 

It would be difficult to imagine a place more different to Sanday and yet Hoy is only a short distance away as the crow flies. We can see the Hoy Hills from here when conditions are right.

There is one main road that runs up to the North end of Hoy. It is a numbered B road that passes over a cattle grid just outside Lyness and then becomes a single track with passing places (B9047). Such roads do not endear me to our old Brunhilde, being as broad in the Teutonic beam as she is. I breathed in and I fretted. You see, I knew that we turned off this road to get to Rackwick and had yet to follow an un-numbered road for four and a half miles. Oh, my.

In the event, the sheer beauty of the twelve mile journey overcame my nervousness. We were fortunate to meet no oncoming traffic for the whole distance and were able to pull over to allow the one car behind us to pass. Progress was very slow in places as it became far too bouncy if we put on any speed.


Rackwick SignageSee large for house names

Rackwick took our breath away. The scenery was stunning, with low cloud draped around the shoulders of the hills and big Atlantic breakers rolling in to the bay. It was dark and brooding and very much like our Yorkshire home turf.

I was itching to take photographs. Luckily I was not the first to disembark and it was in fact Mr Snail who detected the presence of the Horrible Hoy Midge. Great clouds of the devilish things were clustered around Brunhilde's door. Between the insect life, the rain and the poor visibility it seemed madness to venture forth with camera. I decided that location shots could wait until tomorrow and we cooked tea instead.

The weather improved a little so when we donned hats, long sleeves and midge repellent in order to walk the dog we were at least able to do so without the added discomfort of being wet. We set off on the local walk with the intent of finding the beach

Rackwick SignageWe did two and saved the third for next time

Nell enjoyed her exploration and so did we. The waves were spectacular. We stood for a while, watching two young men engaged in photographing the scene and I wished that I too were smoothing the waters. I knew however that I could not manage the camera and fight off the midges at the same time.

We walked back to Brunhilde and an early bedtime and were very happy with our new mattress topper. A good night's sleep was had by all.

Part II is here.

Topic: Hoy August 2015, Houton departure Friday 14/8/15

Categories: 2015, Orkney, Trips

Tags: hoy, rackwick

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