The old men of Hoy III

June 10, 2014

When we came back from the cliffs, there still was some time to explore the remnants of Rackwick.

Some decades ago, Rackwick was a small village with real people and all the things that belong to the every-day life of a village. As the years went by the village grew smaller, its people older and the younger left for the city, until only one old man was left, who lived there until the end of his time.

Today the stones of Rackwick’s old houses crumble under the wind. In certain places you see a new bungalow or a mobile home, which, we were told, belong to the people of Orkney’s mainland, who like to come here for the summer.

Although there is no one living permanently in Radwick, the people of Hoy did not leave this village to its fate. A small street sign led us to a house, looking relatively new, with white curtains in its windows and an open door. It is a strange feeling to enter a house in a place that is empty of people.

We stood in a single room, almost a living room, with a chair under the window and an old cupboard. In this we found hundreds of old pictures of Radwick, ordered meticulously by year. You could make yourself comfortable in the old chair and delve into Radwick’s past. I’ve never seen such a calm and tender  memento to a gone place.

We also found the old school house, or rather school room, where they even had preserved the last teacher's table.

If I remember correctly, the bus driver told us that the school of Rackwick sent of its last pupils in the 1950s. The old man, the last villager, died in the 1980s.

While walking around the bay, I imagined the old man sitting at the beach or in front of his house at night, counting the thousand stars and watching the ghosts of his past.

Punctually in the afternoon the little red bus came over the hill to pick up our small party, with the same cheerful guy who fitted so well into the curiousity and uniqueness of this place and day.


  1. Oh your pics…they get me every time.

  2. Wow. I'm sort of at a loss for words. These are beautiful photos, as always, and I thank you for the story that accompanied them. There's an air of mystery about this place, and a heavy heart of history. I would love to cozy up in that little house and breathe through all of the photos. It's hard to not visit such a place and wonder what everyone's lives were like, especially the life of the old man.

  3. I do so love the tales that accompany your beautiful and haunting photos......

  4. Ironically, your beautiful photos of this equally beautiful place has a really sad story behind it. It looks really livable and relaxing though! So sad that everyone wants to flock the cities! These photos remind me so much of the movies "P.S. I Love You" and "Leap Year" but were shot in Ireland. They look so much alike with all those lavender landscapes and all! I'm such a big fan of you already!