The Out About Scotland complete guide to The Old Man of Storr
Category: Landmark, Landscape, Mountain, Walk or cycle route
Suitable for ages: 11 to 18 years, 18+ years, 65+ years
Ideal for: Couples, Families, Groups, Solo travellers
I rate it: 8 out of 10
About 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 old man’ 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’. If you want a car after arriving at the airport there are several local companies which offer car rentals, or you can use one of the local taxi services which also pick up from the airport.
This is a really lovely walk on Skye and one 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 visitors, once you get to the top you’ll soon realise that the climb is well worth it thanks to the stunning views you get from the top.
Its 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 to the Old Man of Storr than wandering around Portree with a bag of chips?
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 an escape from the world you should be prepared to share the experience with lots of other people.
Thankfully Skye has plenty of other places to go for a walk so you can always find somewhere that’s a little quieter, and it might be an idea to head to The Quiraing after you’ve visited The Old Man of Storr. 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.
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. But if you’re able it’s definitely recommended to plough on and finish the ascent.
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 here is simply breathtaking, with views out to the sea over the islands of Raasay and Rona and then 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 in Skye.
What I liked about this attraction
- The views from the Old Man are spectacular
- The walk to the landmark is pretty enjoyable too
My top tips
- The car park is small so you might struggle to find a space. I advise getting there early
- It’s a bit of a steep climb in places so it’s not so good if you’ve got mobility problems. Part of the walk is paved though.
- It can get really muddy in winter. Wear good quality boots!
Address and map
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.
Prices and opening times
There’s no fee to visit the Old Man of Storr. Access is possible every day at all times of the year, although the route may be closed off occasionally due to unsafe footing or repairs to the path.
Website: Isle of Skye
Getting there: Car park on-site
Getting around: Uneven paths
On-site conveniences: None
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