Old Man of Storr

Natural Phenomenon and Walk in Isle of Skye

Old Man Of Storr, Scotland
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Sanshiro KUBOTA

The Old Man of Storr is one of the Isle of Skye’s most popular tourist attractions and an incredible iconic sight, with its spiky pinnacles of rock set against the backdrop of rolling green hills. It is situated atop Trotternish Ridge—a peninsula in the northeastern region of the Isle of Skye, created as the result of a colossal landslip. The Old Man of Storr is a 160-foot pinnacle rock formation named after its likeness to, an old man. The Old Man of Storr towers over the Sound of Rasaay at an elevation of more than 2,300 feet, and a hike up the grassy mounds toward the group of curious pinnacle rocks that surround the Old Man provides magnificent, panoramic views of the water and the surrounding mainland. From the top the views are fantastic, look out to sea over the Islands of Raasay and Rona and then beyond to the mainland. Looking South there are views of the ‘Storr Lochs’ and then on to Portree and the Cuiliin Hills.

The raw Storr and the hiking circuit known as the Quiraing, have featured in several movie, including The Wicker Man (1973), Prometheus (2012), and Snow White and the Huntsman (2012).

The Legend of the Old Man of Storr

Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr was a giant who resided on the Trotternish Ridge. When he was laid to rest upon his death, his thumb—the “Old Man”—remained partially above ground with the standing rock resembling the face of an old man.

Where does the name Storr come from?

The Storr, which refers to the group of looming outcrops that include and surround the Old Man, is a title derived from the Norse word for “Great Man.”

Plan Your Visit to the Old Man of Storr

The Old Man of Storr is the Isle of Skye’s most popular and most photographed location and so can get very busy. In the peak period of summer it is best to avoid  between 11 am and 3 pm.

Where do you start your walk to see the Old Man of Storr?

The main car park for the Old Man of Storr is a six-mile drive along the A855 from the port village of Portree, the largest settlement on the Isle of Skye. The paid car park has toilet facilities. During the busy summer months, the car park may be full, making visitors park on the shoulder of the road.

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

You can walk up and down the Storr on a 2.3-mile (3.8-kilometer) route that takes roughly 1 hour to climb up and 1/2 an hour to walk back down, a little extra with a few stops for photos and a bite to eat.

Walking up the hiking trail to see the Old Man of Storr

If it has been raining, hiking shoes are advisable. The trails will be muddy and slippery, so a good pair of water resistant hiking shoes is a must!

Old Man of Storr Hike Stage 1 – Old Forest Area

From the carpark look uphill and you will see ‘Old Man’ and the high cliffs that surround.  At the end of the carpark there is a wooden gate through which is a gravel path that curves up the hillside. You will be walking among the remains of a commercial forest which was recently chopped down and replanted. After a while the path splits with both paths re-joining later (the right hand side is a shorter walk). The path steepens  and you will reach another wooden gate. The wide path winds uphill through a felled ahead. As height is gained, there are superb views back of the Isle of Raasay offshore and Applecross on the mainland beyond, as well as towards the Cuillin. The path starts to zig zags up the hill, reaching another wooden gate after which the path begins to level out. This gate is double height, which is designed to keep deer out. Continue along the path, until you get clear of the old forest area and you come to a small wooden gate, with a small pond to your left, which was created for an emergency source of water in case of forest fire.

Old Man of Storr Hike Stage 2 – Muddy Moor

Passing through the gate the gravel path ends and becomes a regular muddy path through a grassy slope. The spectacular cliffs of the Storr are up ahead, although The Old Man can be difficult to pick out from the cliffs behind from this point. Working your way up the slope until the path splits in two, this is a circular trail around the Old Man of Storr.

Old Man of Storr Hike Stage 3 – Final Scramble!

Follow the left hand split in the path and work your way uphill. There are uneven rock steps on the path. As you continue uphill the ‘Old Man’ will be on your far right side. Ahead are many other rock formations. The path now turns right to face the Old Man and continues with more uneven rock steps.
Now on the final approach to ‘the Old Man’ the path curves uphill heading for the foot of the rock pinnacle. The foot of the Old Man becomes very steep and a bit of a scramble, not suitable for all. The area around the Old Man is known as the sanctuary – a small patch of open space surrounded by towers, pinnacles and rock formations. Beyond the Old Man, you can see the Needle. If you look carefully you might spot the small hole at the top – this has given the needle its alternative name, the Cathedral.

Old Man of Storr Hike Stage 4 – Downhill return

Heading back uses exactly the same route, but is far easier going as it is all downhill; allow 30-40 minutes to get back to the carpark.

The Old Man of Storr appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Isle of Skye!

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Visiting Old Man of Storr

Duration: 2 hours

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