Backwell Scout in Charity Climb

Added 11/05/2016 test

Between Wednesday 11th May and Sunday 15th May 2016, Ollie Buckle, a Scout with the 1st Backwell Scout Group, Gordano District will attempt to Climb the Old Man of Hoy.  Ollie has been involved in Scouting since he joined Beavers, then Cubs and since the 19th April - the Scouts Section, in fact he was the first Beaver in Backwell's history to get all his badges, which he was very excited about. 

Ollie, who will be 11 on 16thMay, (just after the climb) attends The Downs School Wraxall, Bristol. He loves climbing, rugby, cricket and judo, maths, science, chess and playing the piano. Plays rugby and cricket for a local team (was recently Somerset County Rugby Champions  - Chew Valley RFC). Plays cricket for Somerset District and has just started training with the National squad (British Judo Council) which he says helps with his rucking in rugby. 

Ollie's father (Ben), first took him indoor-climbing at St Werberghs, a church converted into a climbing wall many years ago here in Bristol, at the age of 2yrs 10 months where he showed a lot of interest and enjoyment. Since then he progressed to climbing his first outdoor route aged 7 and at 9 lead his first proper "traditional (or "trad") climb. Ollie has climbed in the Lake District, Wye Valley, Cornwall (Sea cliffs), Peak District and Fontainebleau, nr Paris and this winter he was introduced him to Ice Axe arrests in the snow in the Brecon Beacons. 

Whilst attending a recent lecture by Leo Holding (who was 11 when he climbed the Old Man of Hoy), Ollie asked what it would take for him to beat Leo's record of being the youngest person to climb the Old Man of Hoy. Furthermore, Ollie is thinking about this future, especially when he heard that the first person to climb the Hoy (Sir Chris Bonnington), then went on to lead expeditions to the Himalaya, and then to climb Everest! 

The Old Man is not an easy climb, indeed it is an aspirational column of Orcadian sandstone stood on a granite plinth rising 460ft out of the sea on the Western edge of the Scarpa Flow being 5-pitches (rope lengths), graded E1 (E for Extreme), and the abseil decent is not straight forward either.

Ben Buckle (Ollie's father) is an experienced climber, however, a climb of this nature (pitch 2 is a long tricky traverse during which it is often hard to protect your "2nd") and has identified a specialist climbing guide with lots of experience of the route who is prepared to support and lead this endeavour following his evaluation of Ollie's ability, competence and aptitude.

Given the remoteness of the climb it would require several days travel there and back, and in case of inclement weather there may be some waiting around.  If the Hoy is a stretch too far for young Ollie then there is the possibility of heading to the North West Highlands and summiting the easier (but just as exciting) Old Man of Stoer, complete with a Tryolean traverse across the sea to get to it; a real Boy's Own Adventure! In any event, these few days would be sure to make for wonderful lasting memories for a promising young climber, more so if he meets with a traditional Fulmar welcome on the stacks!

Both of Ollie's parents have been involved in Scouting, and more recently Ben decided to become an adult volunteer, in the Scout Section (ages 10 - 14 years), and recently moved to the Explorer Section (14 to 18 yeas). Ben recently obtained his scout T2 and climbing permits, as well as being a qualified Mountain Leader in his spare time. Interestingly, Ben and the Chief Scout - Bear Grylls - were in the same TA unit at University (BUOTC).


Ollie has a Virgin Just Giving page which can be accessed at


Image of "Old Man of Hoy" used under license. ©Dave Wheeler [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons