Odds are that if visiting the Isle of Skye is on your bucket list, then so is hiking to the Old Man of Storr once you’re there. And if you don’t have either on your bucket list, it’s time to make a change!
The Old Man of Storr is the particularly prominent rock(the middle one in the picture), which is part of the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It was created by ancient landslides that left some unusually-shaped rock formations in front of the cliffs.
Hiking to the Old Man of Storr not only gives you an up close and personal look at one of nature’s wonders, but it also gives you an amazing view of the nearby sea and lochs.
Here’s what you need to know about the trail, weather, timeline, and parking for your trip to the Old Man of Storr.
First of all, this hike isn’t for those who aren’t ready for a climb. The path up to the cliff is steep in some places, and full of rocks and mud. This hike is not suitable for those that would have issues with a little bit of scrambling here and there, and slippery, uneven surfaces.
You need to be prepared with the right gear. Hiking shoes (preferably waterproof) are a must if you plan on going to the top. Many hikers had walking sticks, which you might want to consider bringing if you normally hike with them or have any joint issues with your lower body.
Trust me, getting past the mud and rocky path is so worth it for the views at the top!
If you aren’t prepared for this level of hiking, the beginning portion of the path is much easier to walk on than the latter half. If this walk sounds too difficult or you don’t have the right gear, you should consider hiking halfway, where you can still get a nice look at the Old Man of Storr.
As with most of Scotland, you need to be prepared for rain at all times. In addition to hiking shoes, I suggest wearing waterproof pants and bringing a rain jacket.
It’s also typical for the Old Man of Storr to be clouded in foggy mist. If you’re looking for that perfect photo of the rock formation, you may need to wait around once you climb up for the mist to clear.
That’s exactly what happened to us. We probably spent somewhere around 30 minutes at the end of the hike waiting for the fog to pass so we could get a better photo and clearer views. You can see the difference in the photos we took as the landscape changes from clear to foggy and back again.
We didn’t mind waiting it out since the scenery is so beautiful, but just know you might need to allow more time in your itinerary for this reason.
How Much Time to Visit
Speaking of time, how much should you plan for hiking the Old Man of Storr? Well, it’s realistic to spend less than half a day on this excursion.
From Portree it’s a 15-20 minute drive to the parking area, and then depending on how often you stop to take photos and your hiking speed you can spend 1-1.5 hours going up the trail. One hour would mean taking practically no photos and no breaks on the hike up, and 1.5 hours would mean stopping for photos and taking an easier pace.
Once we reached the rocks we enjoyed going to different vantage points to get better photos and views, which you may want to do as well before heading back down. Factoring in the driving, hiking there and back, and taking photos, you’re probably looking at a 3-4 hour trip.
Parking can get quite crowded as the day goes on, so arriving earlier is better. Although that seems to be the case for most places on the Isle of Skye, which makes it difficult to plan many events in a short time period, as you can only arrive early to so many things!
The parking is right along the road at the base of the trail, and can be very muddy with the rain and high traffic in the area. Make sure you park your car on firm ground so you’re not stuck later!
Hiking to the Old Man of Storr was definitely one of the highlights of our trip to the Isle of Skye. Hopefully these tips will help you plan your trip to one of nature’s most beautiful creations.