Leo Houlding and I had been talking about doing the Old Man of Hoy for some years and my reaching the ripe young age of 80 seemed a good time to put our plan into action. He incidentally is the youngest person to have climbed it – at the age of 11!
The third member of our team was Andy Torbet, the One Show presenter, which is going to show the film some time soon.
We took the ferry from Crabster to Stromness and got our first glimpse of the Old Man under a stormy sky.
The road head is at Rackwick Bay, three and half miles from the Old Man.
The idea for the climb had come from Tom Patey,(below centre) the Ullapool doctor, brilliant new router and incredible character. He had recruited Rusty Bailey a very talented Rhodesian climber on right and myself.
Rusty led the formidable 2nd pitch – using aid – big wooden wedges, but for the TV ascent the following year, Joe Brown climbed it free, inspired by Joe Brown, who had arrived earlier than me and made the first free ascent. (top Picture)
I must confess I pulled on a sling on the crux but I managed to climb it, though I was very glad of a top rope.
I’d led the final pitch in 1966 and it’s probably the easiest of the entire climb but also the most beautiful. By this time however I was pretty tired and very happy to hand over to Leo
A selfie on the summit. It had been a really brilliant climb.
To see the little film of our ascent go to: