Tales o Hoy Episode 2: Rough Road to Rackwick

Join us on the Old Road for episode 2 of Tales o Hoy

Trace an ancient hill dyke then travel the old peat track between the hills, find Heath spotted orchids and watch mountain hares. Climb up the Cuilags to a crash site that shook the hill, then mount neighbouring Ward Hill on horseback. Linger in Britain’s northernmost native woodland at Berriedale and pass the place where a greedy witch stashed her loot.

Listen to the latest episode and see images from the stories and visit the interactive map here

Photographed by Robert H. Robertson c. 1900 image: Orkney Library & Archive.

Can you join our team?



The committee of the Friends of the Hoy Kirk are looking for someone to join the team of staff and volunteers at Hoy Heritage Centre, Hoy Kirk.

CARETAKER:  Duties will include:

  • Checking the Kirk to ensure it is presentable
  • Checking the fabric and maintenance of the building
  • Preparing the Kirk for events (ie: setting chairs out)
  • Maintaining the good order of displays
  • Cleaning all areas of the Kirk: Kitchen / toilets / entrance vestibule / vestry at rear / upstairs research room / stairway and the main body of the Kirk
  • Ordering any cleaning materials or items required for Kirk maintenance
  • The above duties will be performed on an average of three days per week (the frequency will be dictated by the number of visitors and timing of events)
  • The hours will be, on average, 4 hours per week and can be timed to suit the candidate
  • The position is between 1st June and 31st October 2021
  • The position will be paid at £8.50 per hour
  • The successful applicant will be responsible for fulfilling their own arrangements for tax

Applications for the above position to be submitted in writing please.  The final date for submission of applications is May 21st 2021.  Applications should be submitted to:  Jeff Clark, Chairman, Friends of the Hoy Kirk, Sandybraes, Rackwick, Hoy KW16 3NJ

It’s here! The first episode of Tales o Hoy

We are delighted to present the first episode of Tales o Hoy!

Listen to the first episode here https://hoyheritage.wordpress.com/1-dark-enchanted-isle/

The new podcast series ‘Tales o Hoy’ has been produced by Hoy Heritage Centre taking listeners on an entertaining journey through a landscape of stories, together with an interactive Google Earth map.

Each episode will take in different areas of Hoy parish and feature landmarks, local lore, archaeology, and flora and fauna. Over 30 voices make up the richly layered aural experience where archive and new recordings are blended and accompanied by newly commissioned music by Orcadian musician James Watson. 

The first of five episodes is now available, with subsequent episodes released every Saturday from 8th of May.  

Each episode is about half an hour long. The first, ‘Dark enchanted isle’, starts at Moaness Pier and ends at Orgil. Arrive by sea and take in the impressive view of the hills of Hoy. Meet the ferryman and watch the pier being built. Hear about the shipwrecks of Hoy and the islanders’ rescue missions. Visit the Norse farm at the Bu, pass the medieval Kirk and hear about the bullock pulled mail service, the Hoy Express.

Further episodes will take listeners along the old road through the valley; around Rackwick; to the Old Man of Hoy; and back by the new road via Trowie Glen. 

And find out more about the project here https://hoyheritage.wordpress.com/tales-o-hoy/intro/

Be part of Sarah McFadyen’s Hoy & Walls map project

Artist Sarah McFadyen will be known to many in Hoy & Walls. Congratulations to Sarah on her commission by Traditional Arts & Crafts to create a new map of the island. YOU CAN BE PART OF IT! The map will be based on people’s thoughts about the island to show a glimpse of the vibrant life in Hoy & Walls behind the obvious. To get involved see the details below in Sarah’s poster. We look forward to seeing the results, it’s bound to be special.

Here’s a Sunday treat for you, Sarah reading the George Mackay Brown story ‘The Fishing Boat’ and singing a song inspired by the story composed by Iise Sinclair. The visuals are a rolling artwork by Sarah moved by crank. Enjoy!

We look forward to sharing news of our podcast series Tales O Hoy – going live from Saturday 01 May…….

Hoy Listening – A valley of voices

Hoy Heritage Centre is delighted to have been awarded Museums and Galleries Scotland funding to undertake a community project to produce a series of podcasts celebrating the culture and heritage of Hoy.

The podcasts will be a landscape of stories and a valley of voices packaged almost like radio programmes. Five audio journeys will take in different areas in Hoy and feature landmarks, local lore, archaeology, and flora and fauna. The Hoy community will be involved in the gathering, generation and recording of the content, which will include archive and newly made audio recordings together with specially commissioned music. The downloadable podcasts will add to the experience of visitors to Hoy whilst virtual remote listeners can journey through imagined landscapes. 

The five connected audio journeys will comprise: Moaness Pier to Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre; the old road to Rackwick through the valley; the road via the Dwarfie Stone; Rackwick; the Old Man of Hoy. Each podcast will be approximately 10 minutes. They will be available to download from the Hoy Heritage website, supported by an interactive map and links to discover more about particular topics.

Hoy Heritage Centre will be working with Dan Lee, Lifelong learning and Outreach Archaeologist with ORCA (Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology, University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute). Dan has worked with the community in Hoy over a number of years and his knowledge of the area has added greatly to the resources at Hoy Heritage Centre.

Dan said: ‘Hoy is full of stories, and with the community we plan to let the landscape speak. Archaeology can be about the Dwarfie Stone, but it can also be about more recent activity such as the audacious 1967 BBC outside broadcast of the Old Man of Hoy climb. It is the layers of time that we will be building up in this creative audio project’.

Filmmaker and editor Mark Jenkins will be making new recordings with the community and weaving the audio journeys together, whilst musician and composer James Watson, who has strong family links with Hoy, will compose and play new music for the project. Mark and James have worked together on many film projects including a series of Hoy films a decade ago.

Hoy heritage officer Rebecca Marr said: ‘Like many visitor centres this past year, Hoy Heritage Centre has had to close to the public. This has had a significant impact on us, but this is a great opportunity during these difficult times to lift spirits and allow people to experience the magic that is Hoy. Whether people use the podcasts to accompany their walks in Hoy or whether they travel from their armchair, sharing heritage by hearing local stories from local voices will make their journey a real experience’.

Hoy residents living in the parish, or those who have homes in the parish, are invited to get involved by telling their stories, sharing tales or voicing up newspaper clippings.

Contact us here

It’s the Hoy Kirk Science Festival Night in your living room!

This is your ticket to join us for the Orkney International Science Festival event.


You’ll need your imagination but we’ll help get you there through archive photographs, so…take the ferry from Stromness to Moaness pier, and walk up the brae to the Hoy Kirk for seaweed soup for supper, with a recipe for you to prepare at home in advance.

Then sit back and enjoy some music, with the story of Jimmy o’ the Bu’s Polka, with memories from his grand-daughter Jean Thomson and his tune played by six of his great-great-grandchildren, including the fiddle that he played on.

Then we hear the story of settlement in Rackwick from archaeologist Dan Lee. Dan has been working in Hoy for some years now and he draws on the fascinating features he covered in his Rackwick Survey. Dan will show us the traces of the BBC 1967 televised Old Man of Hoy climb, describe to us the phenomenon of ‘The House That Was Built In A Day’, connect us to the communications in Rackwick and more.



Share the link and see you all there. Although we will miss seeing you in real life at the Hoy Kirk Heritage Centre, the online opportunity means that many more folk can join in from all over the world.

Photograph: Niall Anderson

Young men on the Old Man

It’s a while since these young men from Aylesford climbed the Old Man but their families have recently been in touch with this fantastic newspaper clipping from Kent.

The Old Man only has one leg but it’s a sea leg and it seems John Smith didn’t have any sea legs, struggling with sickness on a calm crossing. There are some great details of this 1972 climb in the amusing write up, tackling the stack with just a barley sugar between them, picking up South African radio on their walkie talkies and a feeling of anti-climax.

John Smith, Robert ‘Scottie’ Henderson, Martin ‘Barny’ Barnicott and Richard Wilkinson – you are in the Old Man roll call.

If you, or your family members, have climbed the Old Man please let us know when and who with and we can add you to our list.

As a foot note: We did an  internet search on the Reed paper mill where the clipping is from and found out that in 1932 the mill was producing 850,000 miles of newsprint a year that’s nearly 10 million Old Men of Hoy (if our calculations are right! 5,280ft in a mile and The Old Man is 450ft).

Thank you to John Smith and Fiona & Allun Maunder.

A warm welcome to our new website

During this period of closure we have been using our time to work behind the scenes on updating the website and adding lots more content.

So here is your invitation to visit us virtually, there’s a warm welcome and you can stay as long as you like but you’ll have to make your own cup of tea for now.


Please get in touch with anything you would like to see covered on the website. There will be new pages added regularly.