As you can see, an awful crossing on the ferry:
Ward Hill from the road to Rackwick:
Looking to the hills from Rackwick:
The bay of Rackwick was fine enough:
Almost at the Old Man, the Stromness ferry shows up:
In all its splendour (for now), the Old Man:
Getting some puffin action:
The cliffs south of the Old Man:
And to the north:
Looking back from height showed its
precarious positioning even more:
Coming up on St John's Head:
An impressive crack in the cliff face:
Not a bad spot for a rest:
After the Old Man, Sonia and I went on alone in search of even greater cliff-action with St John's Head, a staggeringly huge chunk of vertical sea-cliff, the scale of which was hard to comprehend. Indeed, if you looked closely at its base you suddenly realised that the little white flies buzing around it were actually sea-birds! We spent as much time as we could here eating lunch in full view as fulmars
flew beneath us, looking up questioningly.
Step away from the edge, St John's Head:
A lazy fulmar gliding to its nest:
And another, showing just how vertical that cliff-face is:
Fulmars however, I can cope with. Next on our wildlife list as we headed toward the summit of Cuilags was the arctic skua
, and a lot of them. These ground-nesting birds are noitoriously protective of their nesting area and it later turned out that 12% of the world's population of this bird bred on Hoy. By my rough calculations therefore, I believe that somewhere between 10 and 11% of all skua's anywhere attacked us on our little hike, which made things a little more eventful than the average Munro. When I say attacked, I don't mean actual contact, but these are big and fast birds and there were scary enough for me to come up with the concept for a computer game entitled 'Skua Chick Soup'. Let's just say it would likely come with an age-restriction...
Anyway, we eventually made it to the top of Cuilags and were rewarded with stunning views all around, including out to the wave-power experiment
in Hoy Sound. From here we could see Moaness, the isle of Graemsay
, and over to the mainland as well as fine views of neighbouring hill Ward Hill. Onwards there was just the small issue of a rather steep descent that unnerved Sonia somewhat, plotted kindly of course by yours truly.
Sonia ducks from advancing skuas:
Coming right at you:
On Sui Fea, getting ready for Cuilags:
Hoy Sound from Cuilags:
Graemsay and the mainland from Cuilags:
A more central shot of Graemsay:
Ward Hill and Sandy Loch from our descent:
Who the hell chose this way down??
Once down, we made our way over to The Hoy Inn, as directed by the many prominent signs, with my mouth drooling for a pint of anything cold and alcohol; a pink alcopop would have been welcomed! Alas, cruelly, this establishment was no longer in operation and we were met by nothing more than an empty shack. Deflated, hungry and thirsty we walked back up to the Youth Hostel in hope, but that was closed. We finally gave up and retired to the ferry waiting room, which itself didn't even have a vending machine! In desperation, I even texted ahead in an attempt to try and ensure that at least a cold bottle of beer would await me in Stromness! A thoroughly fantastic day, but make sure your supplies are well-stocked!!
One of those mocking signs for available refreshment:
Our saviour from the drinkless land!