The Old Man of Storr walk is a highlight of any visit to the magical Isle of Skye. Even if you are not massively into hiking, the ethereal, other-worldly scenery here will take your breath away.
This is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Skye. The unique rock formations here are among the most photographed Skye landmarks.
That said, their popularity and the occasional crowds do not detract from the charm of visiting. Some places are popular for a reason.
The Old Man of Storr Legend
The Old Man of Storr walk is shrouded in legends, mysteries, and magic. Local legend has it that the Old Man of Storr was actually a giant that lived on the Trotternish Ridge of the island.
When he passed away, he was buried in his homeland. However, he was so huge that his thumb was still sticking out above the ground! That thumb, supposedly, is the pinnacle of the Old Man of Storr.
The reality is sadly, far less mystical. The 165 foot (55 metres high) pinnacle is made of tertiary lava.
A huge landslide during the Jurrasic era resulted in the formation of The Storr. The Quiraing, the needle, and the Dun Dubh were created by the same geological occurrence.
The Old Man of Storr Walk
The Old Man of Storr walk is accessible to people of all ages and hiking abilities. There is a clear path to follow, and there is no need for any clambering or climbing.
It takes approximately 45 minutes to walk up to the highest viewpoint. The descent takes slightly less time.
In all, the round trip hike covers just over 3 miles and can be completed in around an hour and a half. Various other pathways weave through the green landscapes here.
They offer unparalleled views over Loch Leathan, and across to the islands of Raasay and Rona. If your schedule permits, try to dedicate a couple of hours to visit the Storr.
Much of the experience and fun is not in simply hurrying to the peak and back down again, but in stopping for a picnic, enjoying the views, enjoying nature, etc. Exploring the other trails here takes you past other unique rock formations, past small ponds, and areas of rolling green hills.
The Old Man of Storr hike is relatively steep. Much of the path follows a steady incline. This can be challenging if you are not of a relatively good level of fitness.
Don’t hesitate to stop and rest as necessary. Consider packing a flask and some snacks so that you can revel in the views as you do so. It is not a race to the top!
Older hikers may wish to consider hiking with the use of walking poles. There are no equipment hire facilities on site so be sure to pack these before you go.
Be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes/walking boots with a good grip. The path becomes very rocky near the peak. On rainy days, it can become muddy and slippery.
Commencing the Old Man of Storr Walk
You should try to get to The Storr as early as possible. If you get there before 9 am, you ought to be able to avoid the bulk of the crowds.
The entrance to the site is clearly marked. Pass through the gate that sits behind the car park. There are toilet facilities at the entrance if you need to use them.
Getting to the Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is located just 7 miles north of the village of Portree. If you are driving, simply follow the A855 road northwards until you reach the Old Man of Storr car park.
Having your own vehicle makes getting around the Isle of Skye much easier. However, that isn’t to say that getting around via public transport is impossible.
Daily buses run between Portree and the Old Man of Storr. Their schedule is infrequent, so you need to plan accordingly,
Buses to the Old Man of Storr
The 57A and 57C buses run between Portree and the Old Man of Storr. A single ticket costs around £4.50. However, you are better off buying a day rider for £7.50.
The 57A runs in an anticlockwise loop around the island while the 57C runs in a clockwise loop. So, the 57A is the preferred bus that you should be taking to reach the Old Man of Storr.
Otherwise, you are venturing on an unnecessary circle around the island! Skye bus timetables change regularly depending on the season.
It is best to check the latest schedules online or in person at the tourist information kiosk in Portree. At present, schedules differ on Fridays compared to the rest of the week.
Buses from Portree depart from Somerled Square. You can’t miss it. It’s the only central square in the village.
The earliest bus leaves Portree at 6.55 am. The journey to the Old Man of Storr car park takes just 15 minutes.
Be mindful of the timings if you are going to be relying on public transport. When you’ve finished the Old Man of Storr hike, you may wish to take a bus northwards towards Mealt Falls or Staffin.
Alternatively, you might want to take a return bus in the opposite direction. After midday, a bus does not pass by here for several hours. Plan carefully to ensure that you don’t get stranded!
Driving to the Old Man of Storr
There is a car park right beside the Old Man of Storr entrance. However, this is very small and gets overcrowded very quickly.
Parking is £3 for a couple of hours. You should be prepared that you may have to park further down the road and walk to the Storr, especially in the summer.
Skye and Old Man of Storr Tours
Various companies offer Isle of Skye day tours. These can be a good option if you want to do the Old Man of Storr walk and explore the wider island but you are short on time.
Accommodation in the Isle of Skye can be very expensive. Not to mention, it can be nigh impossible to find a hotel room during the peak summer months!
Potential Isle of Skye tours that include the Old Man of Storr hike that you may wish to consider is detailed below. All of these tours are organised by reputable local tour companies. Many of them depart from Edinburgh, Inverness, or Glasgow.
- Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle tour from Inverness
- From Inverness: Isle of Skye scenery tour with Fairy Pools
- Isle of Skye and Jacobite Steam Train 3 Day Highland Tour
- From Edinburgh: 3 Day Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Highlands Tour
- From Glasgow: 3 Day Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and Highlands Tour
- Outer Hebrides and Isle of Skye: 6 Day Tour
What to Wear for the Old Man of Storr Hike
The best advice for preparing for your Old Man of Storr hike? Make like an onion and layer up!
The weather in Scotland is unpredictable, whatever the season. Torrential downpours often commence without a moment’s notice.
The “summer” months of July and August are seldom hot and sunny in Scotland. It can also get very windy close to the peak of the Storr. Consider wearing a light jacket over your shirt, with a waterproof rain jacket over the top.
You may also want to pack a rain mac or a travel umbrella. Comfortable hiking boots and socks are a must – make sure that you have broken them in before embarking on long hikes, too!
You may want to consider buying a rain cover for your rucksack and camera bag. Load up your backpack with a thermos filled with steaming hot coffee, a filled reusable water bottle, and plenty of hiking snacks.
Do you have any additional questions about conquering the Old Man of Storr walk or planning a Scotland itinerary in general? Feel free to contact me via the comment box below.
Safe travels! Melissa xo