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 looks like an old man on top of the mountain. Of course, since it is so iconic, we wanted to do the Old Man of Storr hike during our short visit. The question was: Would the Isle of Skye weather cooperate?
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The views hiking the Old Man of Storr are spectacular!
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 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 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.
Maybe next time I will try this guided hike.
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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.
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Last Updated on October 9, 2020
This reminds me of an episode of Full Circle with Michael Palin where Palin travels to the famed rice terraces in the Philippines only to find the entire view shrouded in fog. He couldn’t see a thing. If you had kept hiking, I’m sure your only reward would have been driving rain obscuring everything in sight. Anyways, it’s an excuse to revisit the Isle of Skye, right? The weather did lend a nice atmosphere to your photos, though.
Michelle – That is a great way to think of it! Glad you enjoyed the pictures.
Aww bummer you missed your goal bc of bad weather! Hopefully you can go back and try again! Looks beautiful nonetheless with those dark clouds! Happy to join #TheWeeklyPostcard! 🙂
Lolo – Yes I hope I get to go back too!
It’s such a shame you had to turn around but you’re right, safety should always be first! It’s such a hard choice to make especially when you’re traveling and it’s something you were looking forward to. Hopefully you get to go back one day!
Emily – Yes it was hard but agree I feel good about the decision we made. I do hope I make it back there!
Emily – Thank you, it was a hard choice. I hope I get to go back too
I was lucky that the first time I climbed the Old Man of Storr the weather was absolutely perfect! But the second time, when it was at the end of my hiking through the Trotternish Ridge, I basically missed it b/c I couldn’t see it in the thick fog! I was soaked, cold and miserable – just three days later than the first climb 😉
I hope you can come another time to do it again – the views are mind-blowing in the right weather 🙂
Ioanna – Glad to hear that you at least had good weather your first time! Yes I hope to go back, just hope the weather will cooperate!
we’ve only been to Edinburgh. I’d like to go back and do more of Scotland, including Skye. Hopefully with better weather, though in that part of the world you have to expect rain.
Eileen – Yes there is so much to see in Scotland and you are right you can never tell with the weather.
It’s too bad the weather was so, well, Scottish. 😉 Although, I do kind of like the eerie landscape look with the cloud cover. As Michelle noted, it’s pretty in its own way. Hopefully, you’ll get another shot at the Old Man. 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Thanks guys! Glad you enjoyed the photos!
This is such an amazing hike! I’ve never heard of it. Thank you for sharing!
Jen – Glad to hear you enjoyed the post.
Glad that you changed your mind to turn back, if only the weather wasn’t a hindrance 🙁 The landscape is spectacular, isn’t it? I have always admired Scottish landscape, vistas of rugged hills and rock formations, some half covered with mists and clouds – looks mystical. Hope you get to return to Isle of Skye some day to finish the hike 🙂 #TheWeeklyPostcard
Kat – Yes the landscape in Isle of Skye is incredible! I do really want to go back.
I love the landscape in Skye, it’s so amazing! I didn’t get to go all the way up here because it was so windy we just turned back as soon as we’d had a glimpse of him! I can’t wait to get back up there and explore. This reminded me I need to make it happen!
Sonja – Sorry to hear you didn’t make it all the way up. Hope you make it back there and the weather cooperates.
Wow, great pics! The weather is so tricky in Scotland! I’m adding this trip to my wishlist! Thanks for the idea!
Irina – I hope the weather cooperates for you, but regardless I am sure you will have a great time.
I’ve hiked up to the Old Man of Storr twice – once in just about the same weather as you, so we turned back before reaching the actual bottom of the boulder. The second time though it was sunny and gorgeous, and the views from the Old Man were really worth the steep ascent! What a gorgeous spot!
Kathi – Glad to hear you were able to do it and it was worth the climb. I really want to go back!
I did a walk not far from here and the weather was also so unpredictable. It was cloudy and fine when we started, but bucketing down sideways by the time we were half way up. It made for a soggy ride home! #theweeklypostcard
Laura – Yes, the weather is just so unpredictable there but I guess that is typical in Scotland.
The weather in Scotland is so unpredictable,I felt like we were just one step ahead of the rain during our entire visit! We didn’t have much time on Skye and just drove around for a few hours, before we had to get back to Inverness for the night. Even in that short time I could tell this was someplace special! I hope to get back there someday. #theweeklypostcard
Hilary – Yes Isle of Skye is definitely a special place. I was there 3 days and definitely could have used a couple more!
I wish I had more time to hike on the Isle of Skye! I’ll need to come back to do this next time! 🙂
Karen – Yes so many great hiking spots on Isle of Skye!
Awfully tempting, these recent UK and Ireland posts are really making me want to visit, although perhaps with better weather 😉 Hiking to the Old Man of Storr looks so incredibly scenic and I love some cloudy atmosphere. Again, tempting…
David – Thanks I think you would love it there. I do still have a little more about Scotland coming up on the blog so stay tuned.
I’m sorry you didn’t get to do this hike due to weather. Rain can put such a damper on outdoor activities. Although, it’s a really great reason to go back. I would love to visit the Isle of Sky. It looks beautiful!
Mary – The Isle of Skye really is beautiful. Lots of scenic areas and great hiking. I do hope to make it back.
I would love to hike this place, Anisa and Katherine! The pictures are stunning!
Thank you! Yes it really is a beautiful place. I hope you get the chance to visit and hike.