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.
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Review of The Old Man of Storr
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.
From the top of The Storr you’ll get a jaw-dropping view 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.
Things to do at The Old Man of Storr
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.
Unlike The Quiraing, the walk to The Storr is easy (bar the odd quagmire in winter) and 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.
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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 I’d guess it will take someone of average fitness around 2 hours to complete (including photo stops).
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.
If the Old Man of Storr has whetted your appetite for Scotland’s west coast read my Western Isles articles for loads of sightseeing ideas.
- The views from the Old Man of Storr are spectacular and as the trail is partly paved almost anyone can enjoy it.
- This is one of the most beautiful parts of the island, only beaten by the jaw-droppingly beautiful Quiraing in my opinion. Read my guide to the Quiraing for further details.
- 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 car park is quite small so you might struggle to find a space, especially with the number of tour coaches that will inevitably clog up the place by midday. I advise getting there early.
- It’s a bit of a steep climb towards the top so it’s not so good if you’ve got mobility problems but the lower section is partly paved.
- Because the Old Man of Storr seems to be on every Scotland coach tour’s itinerary it gets very, 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.
The Old Man of Storr is located around 6 miles north of Portree in the Trotternish district. A path to The Storr leaves the A855 just north of Loch Leathan. Car parking can be found at the side of the road and also in a small purpose-built car park at the start of the path.
The route to the Old Man of Storr
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 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.
Photo gallery and video
Things to do near the Old Man of Storr
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 hydro-electric 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.
More places to visit on Scotland’s islands
- Ben Ledi – Stirlingshire: Complete Visitor GuideBen Ledi is an 879-metre high mountain in the lower Scottish Highlands. It can be found 5 miles north-west of the popular country village of Callander in the Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are famous not just for their mountain ranges but also for their lochs which include the mighty Loch Lomond – one of the most scenic bodies of water in the United Kingdom.
- Muir of Dinnet – Aberdeenshire: Complete Visitor GuideThe Muir of Dinnet is a national nature reserve located on the eastern border of the Cairngorms national park in the Scottish Highlands. The reserve features a wealth of different habitats including heath, woodland and wetland, but it’s perhaps best known for ‘the vat’, a natural gorge formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago.
- Glen Etive – Inverness: Complete Visitor GuideWhat if I told you there’s a 12-mile stretch of road where you can see those mountains, rivers and forests in a single relatively small area, where gob-smackingly beautiful vistas open up around every corner on a secluded, frequently tourist-free single-track road?
- Faraid Head – Sutherland: Complete Visitor GuideWhile Scotland’s west coast islands usually take first prize for the number of amazing beaches you’ll find (hello Isle of Tiree) you shouldn’t be too quick to discount Scotland’s mainland either, especially in the far north where it’s relatively tourist-free compared to the rest of the country.