Old Man of Hoy
The Old Man of Hoy is a red sandstone stack, perched on a plinth of basalt rock at grid reference HY175007. It stands close to Rackwick Bay on the west coast of the island of Hoy, in the Orkney Islands, Scotland and is a distinctive landmark seen from the Thurso to Stromness ferry. From certain angles it is said to resemble a human figure. Nearby is The Dwarfie Stane.
The Old Man is probably less than 400 years old, and is likely to completely erode away in time. On maps drawn between 1600 and 1750, the area appears as a headland with no sea stack. William Daniell, a landscape painter, sketched the sea stack in 1817 as a wider column with a smaller top section and an arch at the base, from which it derived its name. A print of this drawing is still available in local museums. Sometime in the early 19th century, a storm washed away one of the legs leaving it much as it is today, although erosion continues.
The stack was first climbed by Chris Bonington, Rusty Baillie and Tom Patey over a period of three days in 1966. On 8–9 July 1967, an ascent featured in The Great Climb, a live BBC three-night outside broadcast, which had around 15 million viewers. This featured three pairs of climbers: Bonington and Patey repeated their original route, whilst two new lines were climbed, by Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis, and by Pete Crew and Dougal Haston. In 1984 Brown climbed the Old Man again, this time with his daughter Zoe and Murray Hamilton and Pete Willance.
In an average year, the stack is climbed 20–50 times, mostly by the original and easiest route at E1 (5b). A small RAF log book in a Tupperware container is buried in a cairn on the summit, as an ascensionists' record. Most climbers abseil on the descent, although care is required to avoid jamming the ropes on retrieval - a stash of abandoned ropes bears testimony to this.
Roger Holmes, Gus Hutchinson-Brown and Tim Emmett made the first BASE jump from the stack on 14 May 2008. The trio planned the jump for over three years, took seven hours to climb the stack, and just 10 seconds to get back down again. Hutchinson-Brown died 11 days later during a jump in Switzerland.
In popular culture
The Old Man appears in the "Trailer sketch" of the Monty Python's Flying Circus episode "Archaeology Today" in which the voiceover (Eric Idle) says that in the upcoming BBC Television season, singer Lulu "will be tackling The Old Man of Hoy". It also appears in the opening scene of the video of the Eurythmics' 1984 hit song "Here Comes the Rain Again". News presenter Kirsty Wark won a Comic Relief special edition of The Great British Bake Off with a 2 feet tall cake depicting the Old Man of Hoy.
- "My Old Man". Radio Scotland. Retrieved 27 October 2013.
- Julian Holland. Exploring the Islands of Scotland: The Ultimate Practical Guide. p. 25. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "William Daniell The Old Man of Hoy date not known". Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Mountaineering Council of Scotland 1966 climb - The Old Man of Hoy[dead link]
- "The Great Climb". BBC Scotland. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "The Old Man of Hoy". British Film Institute. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
- Roger Holmes. "Old Man Of Hoy - BASE 1st Descent". Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Base jumpers complete Old Man of Hoy climb - and parachute drop". Daily Record. May 26, 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-26.
- "Angus Hutchison-Brown". scotsman.com. July 1, 2008.
- Bonington, Chris (1973). The Next Horizon. Reprinted 1990, London: Victor Gollancz Ltd., ISBN 0-575-03939-6
- Evans and Hansom, 1995
- Miller, 1976
- The Orcadian (newspaper) 11 August 1977
- The Rock Queen at the Internet Movie Database Catherine Destivelle's solo ascent in 1998
- Aerial photo of the Old Man of Hoy in 1947