Youth Hostel, Hoy, Orkney, Scotland

Hoy Youth Hostel has a mud floor and no gas or electricity. On the upside, it’s free of charge, has great views and a magnificent dry stone wall in front of it.

I was so entranced with this place – its mists and melancholy beauty – that I was in a kind of photographic daze, where everywhere I turned there was something magic.

Location: the island of Hoy, Orkney, Scotland. Camera: iPhone.

Hoy Youth Hostel; location

Hoy (from Norse Háey meaning high island) is an island in Orkney, Scotland. Measuring 143 square kilometres (55 square miles) it is the second largest in the archipelago after Mainland. The Ayres causeway connects it to the island of South Walls.


The dramatic coastline of Hoy greets visitors travelling to Orkney by ferry from the Scottish mainland. Not surprisingly, it has extremes of many kinds such as the famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. Hoy is also home to the most northerly Martello Towers, which were built to defend the area during the Napoleonic War although they were never used in combat.


Hoy is an Important Bird Area. The northern part of the island is an RSPB reserve and attracts great skuas and red-throated divers. The RSPB bought this land from the Hoy Trust for a minimal amount. The botanist William Jackson Hooker first discovered Anastrepta orcadensis, a liverwort also known as Orkney Notchwort, on Ward Hill in 1808.

In popular culture

Hoy is featured prominently in the Eurythmics’ 1984 video “Here Comes The Rain Again”.