The Old Man of Storr

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

The Old Man of Storr is a rock outcrop on the Isle of Skye 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 natural attraction with this guide which includes an overview, visiting advice, and useful tourist information.

The Storr
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
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Overview

Craig Neil at the Old Man of Storr, Skye

The Old Man of Storr is an iconic rock pinnacle on the Isle of Skye, nestled within the Trotternish Ridge. This geological marvel, surrounded by some of Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes, attracts countless visitors year-round who trek uphill for breathtaking, panoramic views of the island and the Atlantic Ocean.

Located in Trotternish, around 6 miles north of Portree, the island’s main village, The Old Man of Storr is the remnant of an ancient landslide which resulted in a broken cliff-face, with the ‘Old Man’ left behind in a raised position looking out across the stunning landscape of Loch Leathan and the Sound of Raasay.

From the top of The Storr, there are jaw-dropping views of the Coire Scamadal and the surrounding hills which are a must-visit for all tourists, though it’s usually quite windy up there so prepare yourself for a good old-fashioned Scottish ‘hoolie’.

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. 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 Highlights

1: The Old Man of Storr is one of the most iconic natural landmarks on the Isle of Skye and offers some of the most impressive views on the island, with the sparkling waters of the Sound of Raasay being a particular highlight.

2: The Old Man of Storr is steeped in local folklore and mythology. It’s said that the Old Man is actually the thumb of a dead giant who was buried there. Regardless of the myths and legends, the Old Man of Storr is a fascinating geological formation.

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. Alternatively, take a drive north to another iconic natural attraction – the Lealt Falls.

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 waterproof clothing for the changeable weather.

2: It’s a bit of a steep climb towards the top of the Old Man of Storr so it’s not a good destination if you have mobility problems, but the lower half is partly paved and is easy to walk. Even if you don’t manage to get all the way to the top, you’ll be able to go high enough to appreciate the stunning scenery.

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 go in the early morning or the off-peak season outside of summer and school holidays.

The Storr

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 A855, 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. With that in mind, 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 that sees far fewer tourists at its western end.

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 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 to the pinnacle or return to the car park.

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. I’ll admit I took over three hours walking to The Storr and back down, but that’s only because I kept stopping to enjoy the view. The scenery is breathtaking from start to finish, 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.

The Storr

Walking Route

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 direction 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. Continue following the path that now takes on a zig-zag route towards the top of the hill.

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

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 usually wet at this altitude and very slippery, so take care.

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 if you’re not sure where to go.

Things to Do

Hiking Adventure: A hike to this iconic pinnacle is a must-do activity for all visitors to Skye. The trail weaves its way through woodland before opening up to reveal the mystifying rock formation. The hike is moderately challenging but rewards with panoramic views of Skye from the ‘Old Man’.

Sunrise Photography: For photography enthusiasts, capturing the sunrise at the Old Man of Storr is an unparalleled experience. As the sun peeks over the horizon its golden rays cast a surreal glow on the rock formation which lends itself perfectly to capturing the perfect shot of the Misty Isle.

Wildlife Spotting: The Old Man of Storr is not just about the rocks; it’s a haven for wildlife too. Keep your eyes peeled for various birds such as golden eagles and osprey, while the surrounding moorland and woodland are home to red deer and even the elusive pine marten.

Guided Tours: To fully understand the Old Man of Storr, consider joining a guided tour. Knowledgeable local guides will introduce you to the area’s history, folklore, and its geology. Furthermore, they can lead you to lesser-known spots that offer unique perspectives of the famous landmark.

Stargazing: Owing to its remote location, the Old Man of Storr is a fantastic place for stargazing. On clear nights, the lack of light pollution allows for a stunning view of the sky which is an experience not to be missed.

The Storr

Book Tours

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.

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 many 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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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.