Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A week in Skye - The Storr and The Old Man of Storr

We've had an excellent day, which started when we awoke at the Sligachan campsite to bright sunshine. Our plan for the day was to go and see the Old Man of Storr, and then go and get to the top of The Storr, a mountain of 2359 ft. Peter has been organising this trip, so I had no idea what to expect.
After a leisurely start, we drove to the car park near the base of the mountain. As we got closer we could see both the mountain and the Old Man of Storr. They both looked brilliant from a distance. Several cars stopped at the same point as ours to take pictures.
The Old Man of Storr is the sticky up rock, next to a triangular shape which is Needle Rock.  The mountain behind is The Storr
I was so captivated by this cliff face, I took this picture out of the van window as we were driving past.  I didn't know we would be coming down this cliff face later on!
As I said, I had no idea what to expect, but I didn't expect to find the whole world and his dog taking up all the car parking spaces! That's not strictly true, we did find room in the layby, but the place was chocka block full. There was even a bus parked up! The Old Man of Storr really is a Skye icon it seems. Everyone visiting Skye visits the Old Man and I think they all chose today to come visit. We watched them, including the bus load of foreign tourists, happy and chattering making their way up the hill. Once we were booted up and ready, we followed them, packs on backs and feeling rather over dressed in comparison. No matter, the sun was still hot overhead, and the views opened out as we climbed.
There were masses of primroses on the hillside
And violets
The Old Man of Storr looking more and more impressive the higher we got.
We got the route from the WalkHighlands site.  The path up to the Old Man is steep, but not that difficult, and it wasn't long before we reached the final approach. However, the weather was starting to change, dark clouds headed our way and the air started to cool. Peter was keen to get a particular photo shot before the weather turned nasty, so we had a brief parting of the ways, me to go up to The Old Man on our left, and Peter to take the path on the right. I started the final, very steep track up to the Old Man. No-one else followed, this path being too steep and slippery for the tourist folk. I kept going as far as I could, but had to stop within the last 20 or 30 metres. It was getting too steep and too much like a climb for me and I started to feel scared, so that was it, time to go down. As I said, the route up was steep and slippy. Funnily enough, so was the route down, and I made the executive decision that I might as well save my bottom the indignity and pain of falling on it by sliding down the hill on it instead. It was safer, but Peter found this highly amusing when he was walking behind me later on.
The final approach to the Old Man.  I never quite made it to the base.
Looking across to Needle Rock from the slope beneath the Old Man of Storr.
From there, I took a path to meet up with Peter at The Needle. We really liked this area, and were well impressed with the rock formations.
Curious rock formations
Needle Rock from a different view point
The Old Man of Storr from Needle Rock
Once we'd wandered around the area enough, and taken photos from just about every angle, we continued on our route which would take us up to the summit of Storr. Looking back at those incredible rock formations, I remember thinking the whole group together looked like the ruins of a fairytale castle. Quite stunning.
Altogether.....  magnificent.  No wonder there are so many visitors.
On we went, up and around the back of the cliffs, up slopes of varying degrees, up towards the summit. It was quite windy as we got nearer the top, but a huddle of rocks provided the perfect shelter for our lunch break. The view wasn't bad either.
Looking across to the cliffs of Hartaval, from our lunch point on the slopes of The Storr
Onward and upward, we finally reached the summit of Storr. Cue picture of Peter at the Trig point.......
Peter at the summit trig of The Storr.
And then it was time to go down,  after a few jaw dropping looks at the views over the cliff of The Storr that is.
Looking over the edge.  It's a long way down.
The trouble was that the path down was a lot more difficult to find than the one we'd followed up. We meandered and zigzagged all over the hill. Luckily, Giizmo the GPS knew where we were supposed to be and kept us going in generally the right direction. Eventually we came to a discernable path and followed it, relieved that we were back on a much travelled route.
That relief didn't last long when I realised where it was taking us....... it followed the route of a beck - straight over the side of the cliff!
Our way down.......   follow the beck over the edge of the cliff!
Looking down, it looked steep. Really steep.
But it was alright to be honest. OK, it was steep, and a little bit scrambly and we had to clamber over a small but recent rockslide, but it wasn't a bad way to get down. In fact it was a lot easier on the knees than many of the paths we've descended on.
Once at the bottom it was simply a case of getting across the moor to the road. I looked back at our route down the cliff, if I hadn't just come down that way, I'd have told you it wasn't possible.
Our route down, you can see the gulley in the middle of the picture.  But it was easier than it looks
Looking up, the clouds came down to cover the tops, hiding the peaks.
The Storr with his head in the cloud.  We are so glad we had a good day for our walk.
It started to rain just as we got back to the campervan.  A really wonderful walk, which I would very happily do again tomorrow.  Well worth it.

We decided afterwards that we liked the Sligachan campsite so much we'd go back.  After a shower, we went for our evening meal in the hotel just across the road. I have to say that is one of the best pub meals I have eaten in a long time, and reasonably priced. Once again, I recommend the campsite, and I definitely recommend a meal at the pub. Awesome.

Tomorrow we have another Skye icon to visit, The Quiraing, (whatever that is). Class eh?


  1. Brilliant Lesley. Enjoyed reading about your adventures. We visited Skye last year when we stayed in Plockton and loved it. A very different world up there ;-)

  2. Thanks Andy, and yes, it is a different world. Quite awesome. :-)