This is a tricky time to be on the hills, the weather is changing and the darkness comes early . It is well worth checking your torch and many now carry a spare. I checked mine the other day and it was broken not so good so I will be looking for a new one, any tips?
The weather has been a bit strange and no snow as yet but it will come and I need a day out on the hills maybe over the weekend?
I have had a group of pals three generations climb the Old man of Hoy a few weeks ago. A grandfather, a son and a grandson what a great thing to do well done Val Singleton. They had an adventure as everyone has on this iconic Sea stack.
Ken Hughes – On the 19th September, three generations of the same family summited the Old Man of Hoy at the same time; grandfather, son and grandson. I don’t believe this feat has been done before. It was my pleasure to help them on their journey. As a bonus, there was a lovely elderly couple on the headland armed with a Leica camera and binoculars. They took these amazing shots of us. A pure serendipity, as was the stunning September weather window we had on the day. It’s a story worth telling sometime … ”
I first went there in the early 70’s and had a great time with the local Coastguard Team who were worried about a Rescue on the stac as it was getting popular even then. We had a great trip and a few drams. There was a plan were a team of Glenmore Lodge and a few others Mick Tighe ? would fly in to assist any rescue. I never saw the plan used but we did a few trips and a few ascents in the past. One of the troops lead it in big boots, mad?
photo – From Mick Tighe Scottish Mountain Heritage Collection.
There used to be a wee diary on the top of the Old Man of Hoy sea stack in the Orkneys. This famous sandstone stack was first climbed by an all-star cast of Rusty Ballie, Tom W Patey and Chris Bonnington in 1966 a bold route for its time. It was the scene of a television extravaganza in 1967 when it was climbed in a live outside broadcast by some of the top performers of the day. Names such as Joe Brown, Dougal Haston, Hamish MacInnes and Ian Clough all took part along with lots of top mountaineers as part of the safety team. It is well documented in the excellent Tom Patey’s “One Man’s Mountains”.
The Kinloss and Leuchars Mountain Rescue Teams had climbed the Old Man in mid 80’s and several ascents were done after this by team members. I was also part of the RAF Kinloss Team that in the late 70’s did an exercise with the local Coastguards on Hoy involving an abseil off the great stack after a drop of by helicopter. I was scared to death at the time, never been good with heights. That was extremely interesting and thought-provoking and worthy of a story on its own. Then there was a plan whereby if an accident happens on the stack a team of top mountaineers would be assembled from the mainland and flown to the cliff? This would have all taken a lot of time and I wonder how it would have worked, thank goodness it was not needed. Now-days things are a bit different but Mountaineers must appreciate that climbing on this stack is a serious undertaking if an accident happens rescue could be difficulty. It is great that though there have been a few epics nothing major has happened as yet. Long may that continue!
We lost our good friend and Mountain Rescue team member Derek “Scotty” Scott of cancer at a young age of 33. In his memory a few of the team decided to put a wee “visitors book” on the summit of the Old Man for climbers to leave a few words. This was done in May 1991 as “Scotty” loved the Sea Stacs and enjoyed and treasured, the location, the wild life, (even the birds spitting at you)the power of the sea and of course the climbing. A unique place to be.
The book was inscribed inside with the words:
For Scotty 1958 -1991 – Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team
“This small visitors book is placed here in memory of Derek “Scotty” Scott who sadly died in April of this year aged 33. During his short life Scotty achieved many things one of them an ascent of the Old Man of Hoy, a day which Scotty would treasure.
For those who visit this place – think how precious life is and the many things we can achieve if we only try”
The book also had a wee message to return the book when full to RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team. I was amazed when it was returned in 2000, pretty battered and wet by a climber to the team at RAF Kinloss. Unfortunately it went missing but I managed to photocopy the book before it went missing and a few friends now have copied it and the book is now readable again. We have sent copies to Scotty’s family, the Kinloss Team and the Scottish Mountaineering Museum run by Mick Tighe it will be now kept safe.
The diary has some really interesting comments including an ascent by an 11-year-old Leo Houlding and many other tales. RAF Team members have bi-vied on the top when a storm came in during the night, they said they felt the stack swaying? Also the ropes were fairly battered in the wind and nearly cut through, lucky boys. They were pretty hypothermic when they eventually got off, much to the worry of those watching on the mainland. Another ascent was climbed in big boots plus many more stories.
It is great to see how a wee book on the top of the Old Man can be so interesting. Scotty’s family and friends will love to see the comments. Thanks to all who put it there and for all the work getting the book copied and sorted out.