The Old Man of Storr is not actually a person, it is a rock formation on Isle of Skye, Scotland. You can spot it from a distance because it really looks like an old man on top of the mountain. Of course, since it is so iconic, we really wanted to do the Old Man of Storr hike during our short visit. The question was: Would the Isle of Skye weather cooperate?
Getting to the Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is part of the Trotternish Ridge which is about a 10 minute drive north of Portree, the main town on the island. The afternoon we went the weather looked like it might take a turn for the worse, as can happen in Scotland. It was windy, drizzled at times, and the clouds were very low. I am sure Old Man of Storr was much less crowded than it normally is. We found space in the Old Man of Storr car park on the main road.
Hiking the Old Man of Storr
The path up starts right by the parking lot. Depending on how updated your guidebook is, it may talk about walking through a forest. Unfortunately, the trees have all been harvested so the forest is no more. Still, the views even early on the Old Man of Storr walk are breathtaking. This part of the hike is steep but it is not steps and the path is well marked. The wind did make it a little challenging though.
We had read in our guide that it would get steeper after we passed through a gate. Well, I’m guessing the first gate we came across was not there when the guide was written because the path still continued at about the same uphill rate. My thought is that the gate was added to keep sheep out of the area, but I am not sure.
After a bit, you will reach another wooden gate. Unfortunately, when we got there we found several huge puddles and it was quite muddy. At this point, I could barely see the Old Man of Storr because of the clouds and it was so windy. It felt like it could start pouring at any minute. I could see on the steep path on the other side of the gate. I was tempted to just turn around, but Russell convinced me to go further.
After we navigated the puddle and went through the gate, the trail got much more difficult. Now we were basically doing the Old Man of Storr climb up. Under different weather conditions, the hike would not have been too difficult. The path was well marked and the steps were not too steep. However, the rain made it slippery and the wind made me worry I might blow away.
Should We Turn Around?
We saw other people turning around and we debated it, but we felt like we were close, so we continued on. The weather conditions quickly got worse. We went from it looking like we were almost to the Old Man of Storr to not be able to see it at all because the clouds were so thick.
We stopped behind a large rock where we had a little cover from the wind to think about what we should do. The little bit of the path we could see looked like it was getting steeper. We decided to see if we waited a few minutes, maybe the weather would get better?
Unfortunately, it only got worse. It started raining a little harder. In these weather conditions, we decided it was just not safe especially since we were wearing sneakers and not hiking boots. It would be too easy to slip and get hurt and that is the last thing we wanted on our vacation. So we decided the best thing would be to turn around.
We walked back to the car on the same path we had come up. Disappointed, but confident we made the right decision. Someday, I really want to go back to Isle of Skye and finish the Old Man of Storr hike. I know I can do it, I just need the weather to cooperate. I really hate letting the weather interfere with plans but sometimes, that is the responsible thing to do.
Have you ever hiked the Old Man of Storr? Or have you had one of your hikes interrupted by the weather? I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Expert Tips for Hiking the Old Man of Storr
- Just be aware, there have been changes with the hike at Old Man of Storr in recent years, and your guidebook may be out of date.
- The round trip hike is about 4.5 km, so you should allow about 2 hours.
- Be smart and if the weather conditions deteriorate too much, be willing to turn around. Better to be safe than sorry.
- If you plan on visiting Isle of Skye and like hiking, be sure to also visit the Fairy Pools.