Hoy and South Walls

Hoy and South Walls

Hoy takes its name from the Old Norse - 'Haey' means the High island. The second largest of the Orkney isles, Hoy differs markedly from its neighbours. The northern and western parts are a wild and inhospitable place of rugged, steep-sided hills - the highest in Orkney - fringed by some of Britain's most magnificent coastal cliffs. These culminate in the mighty bastion of St John's Head, but their fame rests on the iconic sea-stack of the Old Man of Hoy, a popular walk from the fine bay at Rackwick.

To the south and east the wildness relents into a fringe of more fertile land and small villages. South Walls - just offshore - is linked to Hoy by a road causeway; it offers a very fine coastal walk along its southern cliffs. Offshore is Flotta, the site of Orkney's oil terminal.


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Walking can be dangerous and all walkers must take personal responsibility for their own safety. You should always carry a backup means of navigation and not rely on a single phone, app or map. Walkhighlands strives to provide accurate information but cannot accept responsibility for changes, errors or omissions.