In 1967 television history was made when the Old Man of Hoy was conquered by a team of six on screen. Chris Bonnington, Tom Patey, took the East Face; Joe Brown and Ian McNaught-Davis, the South Face; Peter Crew and Douglas Haston took the South-East Arête. A further crew of four climbers- Hamish MacInnes, John Cleare, Rusty Baillie and Ian Clough carried cameras and transmitters.
‘Close up of pebbly beach, rowing boat, birds, crofthouse, waves crash, zoom to pinnacle of the Old Man of Hoy, large tractor with caterpillar wheels hauling BBC equipment across bog…’ So begins the shot list for the most ambitious outdoor broadcast of the time.
The event was big news across the UK but it was even bigger news in Rackwick. The influx of climbers, film crew and Scots Guards (who carted the gear including a shed) swelled the numbers in the valley considerably.
Archaeologist Dan Lee found traces of the Scots Guard camp and the BBC camp when he undertook the Rackwick Survey in 2014/15. Almost 50 years later he was still able to discern the drag lines where the filming gear was hauled in to place. See more here where the full report can be downloaded.
Hear Jack Rendall from Rackwick talking about the BBC filming of the 1967 ascent and how it was experienced locally.
The Old Man of Hoy hot the big screen in 1939 when the stack featured in the Michael Powell film The Spy in Black. Along with the Old Man of Hoy the cast includes other familiar Hoy locations such as Longhope, South Walls and Scapa Flow. See locations here.
Have you climbed the Old Man? Tell us about your experience and include your memories and photographs in the Old Man of Hoy archive at Hoy Kirk – contact us here
images: BBC Archive; Hoy Archive & Spy in Black.