You can walk over the hills from Rackwick to see the Old Man of Hoy, a rock stack which is popular with climbers. Some of these climbs have been televised. The Dwarfie Stone, maybe the oldest of Orkney's neolithic tombs, lies off the road from Rackwick to Hoy. Hoy is a small farming community which lies at the foot of the Ward Hill, which at 1750feet, is the highest hill in Orkney. All the Orkney islands except one, Rysa Little, can be seen from the top. There is a small hostel in Rackwick which is open in the summer and a hostel and community hall in Hoy which is often used by school groups for outdoor activities.
The Lyness area which has played such a vital part in two World Wars still shows signs of the past. The old pump house through which oil was pumped to the battle ships from the tanks hidden beneath the hills above Lyness, is now a museum. Complete with machinery, artefacts, photographs and other memorabilia it shows Lyness as it was in the war and attracts many visitors.
Today employment is found at the fish farms one whose shore base is situated at the slip, close to the ro ro ferry terminal and the other at Rysa.
Longhope where the Church of St Columba and Manse are situated is flatter, with agriculture and fishing for lobster, crab and other species. The only shop and petrol pump in the island are situated at the pier and it is here the roro ferry lies at night. Travelling through Longhope you reach Osmandwall where the Norse conversion to Christianity took place in 995. The first church was built here and it is here the cemetery lies, one of three in Hoy and Walls. The others are at St Johns, a mission church in the process of being sold and in Hoy. Here in the east end, can be found connections with the Stewarts of an earlier time and the Martello Tower, one of two which was built around 1813 during the Napoleonic wars.
St Columba Church and Congregation
A second church was built in Longhope below where the present one now stands. The present church was built in 1832 with alterations being made to the interior in 1924. The windows and pulpit are on the long south wall, the communion table standing in front of and below the pulpit. There is seating for about 300 on three sides and in the gallery above.
The carved communion table and sandstone font were both made by local tradesmen. Above the vestry door are carved panels taken from the Spanish Armada. Also in the church is a small plaque unveiled by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1970, in memory of the crew of the TGB lifeboat which was lost on callout in March 1969.
The church was served by Army and Navy Chaplains during the wars when servicemen and locals worshipped together. The present membership is 65 with an average attendance of 20 - 30 people. There are 11 elders and 4 Board members. At present we have a small Sunday club. The Guild has a membership of 14 and meets monthly in Hoy, North Walls and Longhope alternately. The Board hold an annual Sale of Work in August and sometimes other fundraising events. We have supported Harvest Help Malawi, Christian Aid, UNICEF and other charities, usually with a light lunch in the YM (Community Centre) across the road.
As a congregation we sing from CH3, Common Ground and Songs of God's People and we are now enjoying our first experiences of CH4. Our worship is as varied as the various ministers and readers we are pleased to welcome and we pool our different gifts and talents when we have to lead services ourselves. Services are held every Sunday at 11.15am. We look forward to welcoming you to our island parish, which linked with Flotta is a full status charge.
A minister will be paid the minimum stipend of £20,492.00 and an Outer Island Supplement of £1.444.00 in 2005. Removal costs and up to £1,600 Disturbance allowance on receipts are paid by the Council of Ministries as the congregational income is less than £30,000 per year. No other Christian denomination maintains a resident minister in Hoy, therefore our Minister is offered a community based ministry to the whole island.
Our minister is also part of the Orkney Presbytery where there is a great sense of fellowship and informality among it's members. (Presbytery meetings in the winter months are held in the morning to allow islanders to attend). Several are needed as Presbytery Conveners and representatives to Assembly committees, which presents even newly ordained ministers with an opportunity to serve the wider Church and gain useful experience of the committees and Boards of the Church alongside more experienced members.
About 5 minutes walk from the church was built in the 1930s. It has a porch, hallway, study, bathroom, living room with open fire and fitted kitchen all situated on the ground floor. The kitchen also contains a fridge, electric cooker and calor gas hob. The utility room is plumbed for a washing machine. The oil fired central heating boiler is beyond the utility room with a coal store and other storage area. Upstairs there are 2 double,1 single bedroom and boxroom. There is a large walled garden (grass) and a garage which will take 2 small family cars.
The Wider Community
The island has a good Junior Secondary school which is situated in North Walls, some of the teachers live locally while others travel daily from the Mainland. The children usually go to the Kirkwall Grammer school at 14 years to complete their education. They can travel daily or stay in the hostel accommodation provided in Kirkwall. They return home at the weekends and holidays. The school is a community school and incorporates a small swimming pool and hall which are used by the public.
The pre school Nursery meet at the school 4 mornings a week while the Mother and Toddler Group meet in the YM once a week.
The Haey Hope club, an over 50s group meet at the school during term time and also organise trips in their mini - bus to the Mainland (Orkney) for shopping and pleasure.
Next to the school is the Gable End theatre which stages performances by both amateur and professional artists. Films are also shown here.
We have a resident Doctor whose practice is situated in the Health and Social Centre in Longhope, with a Family Health nurse, relief nurse and Care Coordinator. Daily clinics are held at the centre, which also provides visiting services such as the Chiropodist. The Ambulance is also stationed here. The building also incorporates a small respite and daycare unit which is managed by Social Services, who also supervise the Home care services.
Across the road from the Health Centre is the Fire Station, newly built which is operated by a retained fire crew.
In the main employment is found at the fish farms or on the ferry, though occasional work may be found on the farms.
The Wider Community
Transport around the island is usually by car. From the island to the mainland of Orkney the ro-ro ferry, Hoy Head carries cars and passengers and crosses from Lyness to Houton a journey of approximately 35mins. The ferry makes regular crossings in the winter and these are increased during the summer months. (Cars must be booked) This ferry also crosses to the island of Flotta, a linked charge. The Graemsay, a passenger ferry crosses between Hoy and Stromness twice daily. Connections can be made with the Hamnavoe, which leaves Stromness for Scrabster or from St Margarets Hope to Gills bay, Caithness with the Pentalina B. There is also a passenger service (summer only) from Burwick, South Ronaldsay to John O Groats.
Daily flights are available from Kirkwall Airport to Inverness, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can leave Lyness at 9.10am with the ferry and fly from Kirkwall airport to Aberdeen arriving mid-day.
Hoy is a beautiful Island with varied scenery and good connections to the Mainland. We are a friendly community with no crime and lots of activities in which we share. Are you willing to share your gifts of ministry with a small but enthusiastic congregation, open to people of different faiths, and want to be involved in the different aspects of community life? We would like to hear from you.