The Island of Hoy – Orkney

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Whilst you are visiting mainland Orkney it seems unthinkable to not visit at least one of their many smaller islands.  We chose to visit the largest and possibly most accessible island, Hoy, partly as we had two young children and knew that we could get a ferry there and back at suitable times for us.  It’s also easy to drive around with a few key places that would interest us all.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

As we wanted to take the car we took a ferry from Houton to Lyness on Hoy.  If you were going as a foot passenger to Hoy you can take the ferry from Stromness to Moaness on Hoy.  The ferry was fairly quick, although there isn’t much to do for little ones, so I suggest bringing a couple of books into the passenger waiting area for entertainment.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

The views on the deck of the ferry are great, however it was very windy when were crossing and I think that’s pretty normal for Orkney.  So make sure you bring a coat and woolly hat if you want to stay on deck!

There are a lot of interesting things to see on Hoy, although we didn’t get to see everything we would have liked as it would be too much walking for our little ones legs.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

One of the main attractions that we made sure to see was the Dwarfie Stane, a 5,000 year old rock cut tomb, the only tomb of it’s kind in Britain.  The Dwarfie Stane is a slab of red sandstone, which has been hollowed out by had using either stone or antler tools.  Clearly this would have taken an extremely long time to do, the sheer effort that must have gone into this work is amazing!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

When you enter the Dawrfie Stane there are two chambers.  The chamber on the right has a raised lip a bit like a bed chamber and to the left is a slightly longer space, level with the entrance.  The height inside is very low, you can’t even sit up in it!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

The tomb was once sealed with a rock that is now next to the entrance and at some point when sealed someone had broken into the stone through the roof of the left hand chamber.  This has now been sealed again with concrete.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

The boys enjoyed the short walk out to the Dwarfie Stane and back, a five minute walk along a board walk over the boggy ground.  My husband and I were intrigued by the stone and the fact that people 5,000 years ago must have spent so long chipping away at the stone to create the chambers.  Definitely worth seeing if you head over to Hoy.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

After this we headed across to Rackwick Bay.  If our children were older we would have taken a walk up the hill from Rackwick to the top of the cliffs and walk around to see the Old Man of Hoy, a 137m tall sea stack, which is incredibly impressive!  There are also Puffins nesting near the Old Man during the summer, which would have been lovely to see.  We’ll be back again one day!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Instead we parked up at Rackwick and headed down to the bay, which we were told was one of the most impressive beaches in Orkney.  Unfortunately we didn’t realise it was a boulder beach and brought along spades, bucket and wheelbarrows to play with!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Luckily for us the tide was going out and revealed a couple of small areas of sand that were just big enough for our boys to play in and we didn’t have too much disappointment!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

It didn’t take them long to explore the rocks as well and enjoy the fun of jumping from rock to rock, which their dad and I certainly did not encourage by racing each other across the boulders!!

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Stacking stones was of course a fun activity too and yes the boys are wearing their winter jackets and woolly hats in June, not so much because of the air temperature, but the wind chill was quite cold that day!

We had a great time at Rackwick Bay and the views really are spectacular.  There was also a fair bit of wildlife to spot whilst we were playing.

Oystercatchers on nearby rocks.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

And a seal kept popping up in the sea beyond the beach, keeping an eye on what we were doing.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

We headed back toward Lyness after this and whilst I stayed in the car with a sleeping Mr A, Mr O headed out with his dad to look at the Scapa Flow visitor centre and museum at the old naval base.  It didn’t look very big from the outside, but apparently it was huge with a lot of exciting military vehicles and other paraphernalia.  Definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the areas military history.

We headed home after that, but were glad that we took the time to visit and learn a little more of Orkney’s history and see some more beautiful parts to the islands.

Travelling to Hoy Orkney Isles

Have you visited Hoy?

J x


  1. Zoe
    August 20, 2016 / 11:49 pm

    Great pictures Jenny – looks chilly even in Summer. I once stayed in the bothy on Rackwick bay and climbed the Old Man (pre-kids obvs!)

    • August 21, 2016 / 9:58 pm

      I’m impressed you climbed the Old Man! That looks pretty hard work, it must have taken a long time? x

  2. August 21, 2016 / 9:36 pm

    Oh wow, what a beautiful place with lots of nooks, crannies and open spaces to explore. Love that there is a tomb! Even better that there are big rocks, sand and lots of pebbles – it always beats a shingle beach. I’ve never been to Hoy but will definitely add it on to the “want to visit” list. Looks like you all had a great time x

    • August 21, 2016 / 9:58 pm

      Thanks for popping by Jade! Let me know if you ever come up to Scotland, there’s so much to see! x

  3. August 24, 2016 / 7:58 am

    Oh it looks beautiful. We have never been but it does look lovely. I would have never thought to take a wheel barrow to the beach. What a brilliant idea.
    It makes me tired just thinking about the stone chipping. It must have taken years!!

  4. August 24, 2016 / 7:59 am

    Have not been to Hoy yet, it does look like a lovely place to visit just by looking at your pictures. It’s good that the kids still enjoyed playing in the beach despite of the chilly weather. Beautiful photos by the way! #Whatevertheweather

  5. August 24, 2016 / 8:05 am

    My brother said he was expecting Orkney to be like Craggy Island from Father Ted, we told me the scenery is amazing and your pictures show it. Sarah #WhateverTheWeather

  6. August 24, 2016 / 2:06 pm

    I’ve never been further North than Edinburgh 🙁 but it’s definitely something on my bucket list. Hoy looks beautiful and lots of fun for kids. Thank you for hosting #whatevertheweather 🙂

  7. August 24, 2016 / 6:24 pm

    What a gorgeous place, how lucky to see some amazing wildlife, that seal seems really inquisitive. Dwarfie Stane looks fascinating too. We hope to get up that way next summer so I’ll be reading back over all your posts before we go for recommendations on what to do as our children are similar in age to yours.

  8. August 24, 2016 / 7:05 pm

    What an incredible place! Great pics. The tomb is something else… It must have taken a lot of people months to hollow it out. Love the stone stack. Fascinating to see this part of Scotland. Thanks for hosting #whatevertheweather

  9. August 24, 2016 / 10:31 pm

    Wow that looks amazing. You know I’ve never been, keep meaning to go and being Scottish, it’s a must. I loved the pictures and looks like the kids had a great time too. Stunning x

  10. August 24, 2016 / 11:20 pm

    an amazing spot for family fun with history and beach. Great stone stacking

  11. August 25, 2016 / 2:23 pm

    This look beautiful. That tomb is incredible, the amount of time and effort is just beyond belief. Glad the kids managed to find a bit of sand!

  12. August 25, 2016 / 2:37 pm

    No I haven’t been to Hoy before but it looks beautiful. the sand looks so fresh and clean and I love those huge stones. your son is super cute with the little wheelbarrow 🙂 #whatevertheweather

  13. August 28, 2016 / 7:56 am

    I am keen to head back to Scotland and this time visit some islands. Hoy looks so interesting, if a little chilly! Looks like there was something to keep the whole family occupied 🙂 #whatevertheweather

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