Old Man of Storr

By Craig Neil
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Summary

The Old Man of Storr is a rock outcrop on the Isle of Skye located in the Trotternish region, around 6 miles north of the island’s main town of Portree.

The landmark sits at an elevation of 719 metres and it can be reached via gravel paths, rough tracks and a scramble over bare rock.

Discover this stunning outdoor attraction with this guide which includes an overview, visiting advice, and 360° photos.

Address:Portree,
IV51 9HX
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Paid on-site car park £3
Contact:N/A
Facilities:Toilets (paid), partial disabled/pushchair access

The highlights

1: The views from the Old Man of Storr are spectacular and as the trail is partly paved almost anyone can enjoy it.

2: This is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, only beaten by the jaw-droppingly beautiful Quiraing in my opinion. Read the Guide to the Quiraing for information about it.

3: The Old Man of Storr is located just a few miles outside Portree so it’s easy to combine a visit to both places in one day.

The Storr

Visiting tips

1: It’s tempting to explore the rest of the Storr once you reach the old man so I recommend wearing a good pair of hiking boots and making sure you carry extra gear for the changeable weather. Check out my recommended walking boots and backpacks.

2: It’s a bit of a steep climb towards the top so it’s not so good if you have mobility problems but the lower section is partly paved and easy to walk.

3: Because the Old Man of Storr seems to be on every Scotland coach tour’s itinerary it gets very busy. Your only option to beat the crowds is to make the climb in the early morning (what a place to watch the sunrise…) or go in the off-peak season outside of summer and school holidays.


Overview

The Old Man of Storr is an iconic landmark high up on a hill on the Isle of Skye that has one of the best views on the entire island.

Located in Trotternish, around 6 miles north of the main town of Portree, The Storr is the remnant of an ancient landslide which resulted in a dramatic cliff-face backdrop with the ‘Old Man’ sitting in a prominent position on its own looking out across the stunning landscape of Loch Leathan and the Sound of Raasay.

The Storr

From the top of The Storr there are jaw-dropping views of the Coire Scamadal and the surrounding rock formations, though it’s usually quite windy up there so prepare yourself for a good old-fashioned Scottish ‘hoolie’ (Scots word for very windy).

This is a nice walk on Skye that’s easy to get to, although to best enjoy it I suggest you get there as early as possible to miss the inevitable coachloads of tourists who make their way to the Trotternish Ridge each day.

But while you might have to fight through crowds of tourists, once you get to the top you’ll soon realise that the climb was worth it thanks to the stunning views you’ll find.

The Storr’s location close to Portree also means you can easily combine it with a visit to Skye’s main town, and what better way could there be to round off your walk than wandering around the harbour with a bag of chips?

If you would like to join a tour of Scotland’s west coast islands take a look at this selection from Get Your Guide.

The StorrThe Storr 21 of 28 DeNoiseAI clear

Tourist information

Access to the landmark is initially simple as there’s a well-maintained path leading off from a small car park at the side of the A855 road, however, those visitors who want to see The Storr up close should be ready to slip their walking boots on and prepare for a moderately steep climb.

The route is extremely popular with tourists and walkers can be found enjoying the scenery at all times of the year so if you’re hoping for a secluded escape you might be disappointed.

Thankfully, Skye has plenty of other places to go for a walk so you can always find somewhere that’s a little quieter, so it might be an idea to head to The Quiraing after you’ve visited The Old Man of Storr as it’s a much bigger area.

You can find out more about this lovely walk in my Complete Guide to The Quiraing.

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Unlike The Quiraing, the walk to The Storr is easy except for the odd quagmire in winter.

The well-maintained path leads directly from the car park through a conifer plantation that skirts a small loch (or ‘lochan’ as they’re known in Scotland), which eventually leads to a wooden fence around half a mile from the roadside.

At this point you have the option to continue north another half-mile up the slope to the pinnacle or return back to the car park after taking a few photos, depending on your fitness and how prepared you are for the muddy track.

The entire return walk is only around 2 miles in length – though it’s quite a zig-zagging route – and should take someone of average fitness around 2 hours to complete (including photo stops).

The Storr

I’ll admit I took over three hours heading up to The Storr and back down but that’s only because I kept stopping to look at the view. The scenery is simply breathtaking with views out to the sea over the islands of Raasay and Rona and beyond to the mainland.

As you look south you’ll see views of the Storr Lochs, while Portree and the Cuillin Hills can be seen further away in the distance.

The Old Man of Storr provides a welcome place to stop and take a break mid-way on your walk and the photos you take there are likely to be the most memorable of your time on Skye.

For an overview of Skye, read: The Complete Guide to The Isle of Skye.

Explore this area with a detailed paper map from Ordnance Survey:

Skye – Trotternish & The Storr – 408 Explorer.

North Skye – 23 Landranger.

OS Explorer Maps: Best for walking, mountain biking, and finding footpaths. 1:25,000 scale (4cm = 1km in real world). Buy OS Explorer maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

OS Landranger Maps: Best for road cycling, touring by car, and finding attractions. 1:50 000 scale (2 cm = 1 km in real world). Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.


Walking route

Storr Skye Map

From the car park, head through the wooden gate and continue along the gravel path that points in the direction of the ‘old man’.

The area at this low-lying point is part of a commercial forestry operation so don’t be surprised if it’s completely barren as there’ll be new trees replanted in due course.

The gravel path splits soon after but you can take either one as they both re-join further up the hillside.

It’s a bit of a steep walk in places but it soon levels off, at which point you’ll pass through another gate and continue following the path that now takes on a zig-zag route towards the top of the hill.

Continue upwards till you reach a pond (actually an artificial body of water to be used for emergencies in case there’s a forest fire) and pass through a small wooden gate. This marks the end of the nice, dry gravel track and the start of the frequently muddy grassy path.

The StorrThe Storr 12 of 28 DeNoiseAI clear

The slope all the way ahead is very well-worn but becomes a bit of a quagmire after a downpour so I recommend wearing boots if the skies have opened recently. That being said, the views of Raasay from this point are amazing, so make sure you stop to look behind you frequently.

A little further on you’ll notice the path splits in two again, but this time you’ll want to take the left-hand branch. Continue uphill across the uneven rock steps till you see the Old Man on the right at which point you’ll be on the final approach.

Getting to the top is a bit of a scramble but certainly isn’t impossible for anyone with a moderate level of fitness, but even so the rocks are very wet at this altitude and very slippery, so take care.

Once at the Old Man of Storr you’ll be presented with beautiful views across the Sound of Raasay and you’ll no doubt be slightly awe-struck at the size of the Old Man which is absolutely enormous once you get close to it.

The return route follows the exact same path you walked up, but as it’s such a popular place you’ll no doubt have plenty of people you can follow on the way back down.


Things to do nearby

From the Old Man of Storr car park:

Portree Harbour. Quay St, Portree IV51 9DE. 12-minute drive. Portree is the main town on Skye and the harbour is famed for the multi-coloured shops and houses that line the waterfront. There are several cafés and restaurants that face the water. There is limited roadside parking.

Scorrybreac Trail. Scorrybreac, Portree IV51 9LU. 12-minute drive. A short waymarked trail around the headland north of Portree. There is an elevated section that has panoramic views across Portree. The remainder of the walk is through woodland, although part of it verges close to the shoreline.

Loch Leathan Dam. Portree IV51 9HX. 2-minute drive. A small hydroelectric dam located on the northern edge of Loch Leathan. There is a narrow track that leads to the dam and a gravel private parking space.

Bearreaig Bay. A855, Portree IV51 9HX. 30-minute walk. A windswept bay with a shingle beach around one mile in length that offers a pleasant walk. The shoreline offers views that rival Rigg viewpoint so it is a good place to visit if The Storr is very busy.

Rigg Viewpoint. Isle of Skye IV51 9HX. 6-minute drive. An off-road track that has superb views of the isles of Rona and Raasay. There is space for around 5 cars on a rough tarmacked roadside.

The viewpoint is frequently used for overnight camper van parking so it is best to arrive mid-morning when it is quietest.


Frequently asked questions

Are there toilets at the Old Man of Storr?

The Old Man of Storr has a recently-installed paid car park that includes a toilet block.
Address: Portree, IV51 9HX

Directions map: Google Maps

How long does it take to walk up the Old Man of Storr?

The path up the Old Man of Storr is 2.4 miles (3.8 km) with an elevation of 2,360 feet (719 metres), which will take approximately 1 hour to walk.

Why do they call it the Old Man of Storr?

There are several theories about where the name ‘Old Man of Storr’ originates, but the most popular is a local legend that says the rock pinnacle is the remnant of a giant (the old man) who died and left his thumb sticking out of the ground.

How old is the Old Man of Storr?

The Old Man of Storr is located in the Trotternish area of north Skye. The landscape in that part of the island was subjected to a number of ancient landslides, and the exposed rocks comprise layers of basalt lava from the Tertiary Age which date between 2.58 and 65 million years.

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