The Old Man of Hoy Coast


The Old Man of Hoy

Neil Oliver explains the history, climb and spectacular views of the Old Man of Hoy. At 450 feet tall, it is one of the most impressive sea stacks in the UK.


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Transcript


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Hoy means "high island" and that's exactly what this is.

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These sea cliffs are some of the most impressive in Britain.

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Two climbers have set out to tackle Orkney's most famous landmark.

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The Old Man of Hoy stands 450 feet tall on the shores of the Pentland Firth.

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This magnificent sea stack used to be attached to the headland,

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but the elements have slowly eroded the soft red sandstone to create this solitary pinnacle.

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No-one knows how much longer the Old Man will stand before he falls into the sea.

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This morning, driving rain and strong winds greeted Andy Cave

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and fellow climber Simon Nadin at the start of their ascent.

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-Are you excited, Simon?

-'In this weather, the slippery unstable rock is even more dangerous.'

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-Not looking in its best conditions, I must admit.

-Yeah.

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Better than being in the office though.

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-Maybe.

-Definitely.

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But despite the conditions, they've decided to give it a go.

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I'm off to catch up with the guys to find out what makes this stack the one every climber wants to bag.

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Simon and Andy have been climbing for three hours.

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The weather has improved and their chances of reaching the top are looking better.

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'Hello, Andy. It's Neil, can you hear me?'

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All right, Neil, how's it going, mate?

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I'm fine but then I'm on the mainland.

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How's it been going so far?

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We were a bit worried really because it's been raining and in the mist it was very easy to slip off.

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Our hands were covered in green slime and our feet were covered in bird poo

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so it was just horrible, very insecure.

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But I think now we are less worried and just concentrating on the job really.

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Right, I'll let you crack on.

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The Old Man was first conquered in 1966.

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It was a three man team - Chris Bonington, Tom Patey and Rusty Baillie.

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Even Everest had been climbed many years before anyone knocked off this monster

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and it was such a success that the climb was recreated the following year.

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That time, the TV cameras were in attendance.

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Covering the ascent for television

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was as challenging as climbing the Old Man himself.

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Everything had to be brought from the mainland.

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30 tonnes of equipment were hauled over the moors to create an outdoor studio.

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It was the first live programme of its kind.

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Over 20 million viewers tuned in over three nights

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to watch Chris Bonington and his team make nail-biting television history.

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Somewhere there are four climbers, four radio cameramen.

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There you can see the radio camera men on the gallery.

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This is the hardest move on this, I think. I have somehow got to turn round here

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and I've got rather a bad hand-jam right inside the crack.

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I've got to swing right round.

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Climbing the Old Man of Hoy today is just as demanding and no less dangerous.

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-That's nice.

-Nice finish.

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It took the original team two days to find a route to the summit.

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Climbing in their footsteps, it's taken our guys around five hours.

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Nice one.

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