Share this Post
This article may contain affiliate links. For full information, please see our disclosure here.
The Old Man of Storr is not only the most popular hike on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, but also one of the most photographed places in the UK, and it’s easy to see why once you witness its beauty firsthand.
While the hike to the Old Man of Storr is relatively short, it is steep in certain sections, and the terrain is comprised of narrow paths and loose rocks around the pinnacle, requiring a sure-footed approach. This article provides a detailled hiking description including a route map along with a picture guide to help you navigate the trail safely.
Although the hike is suitable for the entire family, it’s important to keep a close eye on young children, especially in the upper section.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. About the Isle of Skye
2. About the Old Man of Storr
3. Hiking Stats for the Old Man of Storr
4. Getting to the Start of the Old Man of Storr Hike
5. The Ascent
6. The Descent
7. Camping on the Isle of Skye
8. Things to Do on the Isle of Skye
10. Hiking Gear for the Old Man of Storr
11. Frequently Asked Questions
12. Final Words
1. About the Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is an island located off the North-West coast of Scotland. It is the largest of the Inner Hebrides, and is known for its stunning natural beauty, including rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and towering peaks.
Skye is also rich in history and culture, with ancient ruins, castles, and museums dotting the landscape. The island is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including rare birds, seals, and otters, and is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking.
The Isle of Skye has become a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors from all over the World with its breathtaking scenery and rich cultural heritage. Despite its growing popularity, the island has managed to maintain its rugged and remote character, offering visitors a true taste of the Scottish wilderness.
2. About The Old Man of Storr
The Old Man of Storr is a famous rock formation located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. It is a towering pinnacle of basalt rock that rises over 50 meters above the surrounding landscape. The Old Man of Storr is part of the Trotternish Ridge, a dramatic and scenic area of the island that is known for its unique geology and rugged beauty.
The formation can be reached by a scenic hike through the surrounding hills, and is a popular spot for tourists and photographers. The Old Man of Storr has become an iconic symbol of the Isle of Skye, and is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular natural wonders in Scotland.
3. HIKING STATS FOR THE OLD MAN OF STORR
Starting Point: Old Man of Storr Car Park, Skye, IV51 9HX, Scotland | Car park is on the left side on the A855 heading from Portree towards Staffin | Grid Ref: NG 508 528 | Open in Google Maps
Distance: 5.75 km
Elevation Gain: 454 m
Time: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
Ordnance Survey Map: OS Explorer 408
The Old Man of Storr & Needle Rock Map & GPX File: View Route Map & Download GPX File
Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye – Elevation Profile
OS Maps App: As a backup for a physical map and compass, I also utilise the Ordnance Survey Maps app, which I highly recommend. I find it very useful, especially when precise navigation isn’t always possible with kids in tow or due to low visibility. The app allows you to plan your routes, save them offline, and print them at scale, just to name a few features. You can sign up for the app by clicking the link below.
4. Getting to the Start of the Old Man of Storr Hike
To get to the start of the Old Man of Storr walk, park at the Old Man of Storr Car Park, Skye, IV51 9HX. There is a parking charge. The car park is located on the left-hand side of the road on the A855 heading from Portree towards Staffin. Simply open in Google Maps for directions. If there are no free spaces available here, drive further on (in either direction) as there are several more car parks along the road.
5. THE ASCENT
To reach the Old Man of Storr, follow the footpath leading away from the car park and pass through the metal gate. After walking approximately 150 metres, you’ll come across a fork in the path. Although both paths lead to the Old Man of Storr, keep to the left as this one is more scenic and less crowded. The path winds uphill through felled woods. You will return via the other path.
Follow the path until it meets up with the alternative path. Turn left and continue uphill. Don’t forget to look back and admire the view towards Loch Leathan.
The path now becomes steeper and consists of a mix of rocks and steps. You’ll also be rewarded with a fantastic view of the Old Man, unless it’s very foggy.
As you gain more height, keep left at the next fork to head towards the Old Man. The aim is to pass behind the Old Man.
Do not pass between the Old Man and the smaller pinnacle behind it, as it is very steep and has loose rocks, making it unsafe. Instead, pass behind the smaller pinnacle.
Be cautious when walking through the next section due to the risk of rockfall. This area should be avoided after heavy rainfall. Instead of ascending towards the Old Man, follow the path that descends into the dip located behind it. The route is well-defined, but you will need to traverse a short section of fallen rocks.
The surrounding landscape is dotted with towering cliffs and pinnacles, and this area is referred to as the Sanctuary. Beyond the Old Man is the Needle Rock or Cathedral, with a window at the top.
When we completed the hike in August 2022, the footpath improvement project was underway. As a result, some sections of the path led us over grass and mud. The footpath improvements have since been completed.
To capture some truly iconic shots of the Old Man of Storr, Needle Rock, and the Sanctuary, continue on the path that leads North to a small hill, also known as the Photographer’s Corner. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to enjoy stunning views (at least on a clear day, which unfortunately we didn’t have).
The image below is unedited to demonstrate the visibility (or lack thereof) on the day.
6. THE DESCENT
Once you have captured some iconic images of the Old Man of Storr and its breathtaking surroundings, retrace your steps by passing behind Needle Rock until you reach the junction nestled between the Old Man and Needle Rock.
From there, turn left and follow the maintained footpath downhill. (We took a short-cut that passed Needle Rock at the front; however, this route is no longer recommended due to erosion.)
At the next junction, where you originally turned left on your way up, continue straight ahead.
After about 400 meters, you’ll reach a fork in the path. Stay to the left at this point to finish the walk and return to the car park.
7. CAMPING ON THE ISLE OF SKYE
There are several Isle of Skye campsites to choose from. We decided to stay at the Uig Bay Campsite because of its convenient location for exploring the Trotternish Peninsula in the North-West of the island.
Although it’s a very basic campsite, it’s suitable for motorhomes or campervans. We needed an electric hook-up because the electrics in our hired campervan were causing problems, and we wanted to see if they could be fixed. It’s a practical campsite, but not an ideal spot for camping with a tent, so I wouldn’t recommend it for that purpose.
A Little Anecdote: A few days into our one-month road trip through Scotland, we encountered issues with the electrics in our hired campervan. The saying “It’s our interactions with humans that make life worth living” proved true on a dark and rainy evening on Skye when we were faced with the daunting task of having to find a skilled electrician in the middle of nowhere.
However, our luck turned when we arrived at the Uig Bay Campsite and met the owner, Martin, who happened to know just the right electrician for us; Nick, a marine electrician! We are immensely grateful to Nick for quickly resolving our campervan’s electrical issues, enabling us to have running water, lights, and a functional toilet for the remainder of our road trip.
8. THINGS TO DO ON THE ISLE OF SKYE
- Hike the Quiraing Circuit
- Walk to the Fairy Pools
- Explore the Fairy Glen
- Visit the Staffin Dinosaur Museum
- Visit the Skye Museum of Island Life
- Walk along Coral Beach
- Take a boat to Loch Coruisk
- Visit Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls
- Visit Lealt Falls
- Walk to Brother’s Point
- Visit Neist Point Lighthouse
- Visit Dunvegan Castle
- Climb in the Cuillin Mountains
When planning our 4-week road trip through Scotland, I drew inspiration from several travel guides to help me plan our itinerary and choose the best hikes and activities. These guides included Scotland The Best, Rough Guide, Cicerone, Bradt, and Wild guide books. I particularly like the structure and information provided in these guides, and they were instrumental in helping me plan our trip.
If you’re planning a trip to Scotland and want to explore the beautiful countryside and hike the stunning mountains, check out these guide books. They are a great resource and will help you plan the perfect itinerary for your trip.
TRAVEL & WALKING GUIDES AND MAP FOR THE OLD MAN OF STORR
10. HIKING GEAR FOR THE OLD MAN OF STORR
To have the best chance of a safe and successful hike, it’s vital that you’re well-prepared and well-equipped. This is true for both yourself and your kids. Do not cut corners when it comes to kitting out your kids with appropriate hiking gear, too.
Well-fitting, water-proof hiking boots with ankle support, as well as hiking socks for comfort, make up the basis for essential hiking gear. In addition to these items, it’s also important to pack the following items for a day hike:
ESSENTIAL HIKING GEAR LIST
- Dry bag
- Water bladder or water bottle
- Trekking or Nordic Walking poles
- Head torch
- Nutritious snacks
ESSENTIAL HIKING CLOTHING
- Hiking boots with ankle support
- Hiking Socks
- Hiking trousers
- Rain jacket & fleece layer
- Rain trousers
- Sun hat
By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for your hike and have the best chance of a safe and successful trip.
11. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How long does it take to hike to the Old Man of Storr?
The time it takes to hike to the Old Man of Storr varies depending on a few factors, such as your fitness level, the weather conditions, and the number of breaks you take. The average time it takes to complete the hike is about 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
What’s the elevation gain for the Old Man of Storr hike?
The elevation gain for the Old Man of Storr hike is about 454 metres.
Parking for the Old Man of Storr?
Park your car at the Old Man of Storr Car Park, Skye, IV51 9HX | Grid Ref: NG 508 528 | Open in Google Maps
What is the best time of year to hike to the Old Man of Storr?
In general, the hiking season in Scotland runs from April to October, with the driest and warmest weather typically occurring in the summer months (June to August). If you’re looking for the best weather and the longest days, then hiking to the Old Man of Storr in the summer may be the best option for you. Keep in mind that the weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, so be prepared for all conditions and plan accordingly.
Weather for the Old Man of Storr?
When planning to hike to the Old Man of Storr, it’s important to check the weather forecast in advance. The weather in the mountains can be unpredictable and can change quickly. Check the Mountain Weather Forecast by the MetOffice website or app to get the most up-to-date and accurate weather information. Throughout our five-day road trip on the Isle of Skye, we encountered extremely foggy weather and frequent showers, so it’s essential to be prepared for similar conditions.
Is the hike to the Old Man of Storr dangerous?
The hike to the Old Man of Storr is generally considered safe, but it’s important to be cautious as some parts of the path can become slippery when wet and others are narrow. The path leading up to the base of the Old Man of Storr is covered in scree, which can make it tricky to ascend. Additionally, the area behind the Old Man of Storr should be avoided after heavy rainfall due to the risk of rockfall. Sensible footwear is recommended.
Would I recommend hiking to the Old Man of Storr with kids in tow?
Absolutely! A hike to the Old Man of Storr can be an exciting adventure for children as well. The unique rock formations and stunning panoramic views can capture their imagination and inspire a sense of wonder. Moreover, the hike is not particularly strenuous, making it accessible for children of varying ages and physical abilities. With proper guidance and supervision, a hike to the Old Man of Storr can be a memorable and rewarding experience for both children and adults alike. My children were 4 and 7 years old on our first walk to the Old Man of Storr, and 9 and 12 years old when we returned five years later.
How to get to the Old Man of Storr?
From the town of Portree on the Isle of Skye, head north on the A855 road towards Staffin. After approximately 11 km, you will see a sign for the Old Man of Storr car park on your left-hand side. Park here and follow the path up the hill as described in this article.
12. Final Words
Hiking to the Old Man of Storr was an incredible adventure that we highly recommend.
We had the pleasure of visiting this unique rock formation twice – once on a sunny day with blue skies and the second time on an extremely foggy day. Both times were magical and offered different but equally stunning views. On the clear day, we were able to see the landscape stretching out to the horizon, while the foggy day created a mystical atmosphere that added to the allure of the Old Man of Storr.
Despite the varying weather conditions, the hike was always a rewarding experience that left us in awe of the natural beauty of the Isle of Skye. We hope this guide inspires you to embark on your own adventure to the Old Man of Storr.
- Quiraing: The Isle of Skye’s Most Picturesque Hike
- Lost Valley, Glencoe: A Legendary Hike in the Scottish Highlands
- Beinn Eighe Mountain Trail: Britain’s Only Way-Marked Hike
- Stac Pollaidh Scotland: Our Attempt to Reach the True Summit
- The Cobbler Scotland with Kids: Your Complete Picture Guide + Map
- Best Hikes in Scotland: 12 Stunning Walks in the Highlands
- 10 Best Castles in Scotland to Visit
- Ben Nevis Mountain Track with Kids: The Ultimate Picture Guide
You Might Also Like
- Amphitheatre Buttress: A Classic Climb in North Wales
- Snowdon Watkin Path with Kids: The Ultimate Picture Guide
- Devil’s Kitchen Snowdonia with Kids: The Complete Picture Guide
- Top 20 Family Outdoor Activities in Wales
- Scafell Pike Corridor Route with Kids: The Ultimate Picture Guide
- 12 Epic Reasons to Solo Road Trip with Kids (and 5 Against)
- How to Plan a Europe Road Trip – The Essential Guide
- Top 11 Road Trip Activities for Kids
- Camping Essentials: Complete Checklist for Camping with Kids
- Climbing Cadair Idris via the Cyfrwy Arete: A Multi-Pitch Adventure
- The Ultimate Family Road Trip Packing List
Share this Post