Location: Old Man of Storr and car park 6 miles north from the village of Portree at an elevation of 2,300 feet
Where We Camped: Torvaig Campsite & Caravan Park
The Hike: 3.8km route, about 1.30 min or 3 hours round trip.
“Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr was a giant who resided on the Trotternish Ridge. When he was laid to rest upon his death, his thumb—the “Old Man”—remained partially above ground.”
It was on our list of must-do’s in Scotland and lucky for me it happened to be on such a great day when we hiked up to Old Man of Storr on Isle of Skye in the Scotland Highlands. This was not the first time we spent my birthday abroad but this hike was a very special birthday trip indeed.
As mentioned in the previous post about Fionn’s Rock, we spent a few days toting around London and then popped on the train heading North to Scotland. We rented a beautiful camper and set out on the road for 10 days, kiddo in tow, a packed fridge and camper full of gear.
We rented our Camper from Roseisle Luxury Campervans and they were incredibly helpful before, during and after the trip. The associates spent a couple hours with us reviewing everything we needed to know about how the camper works, they advised on places to go and in our case, even helped mail us home a few lost polaroids. The van we rented was the Mercedes Hymer Comfort T.
The Camper was amazing and perfect for our family of 3 including: a heater and running water, a small kitchen and decent size fridge, dining table for 4, all the cookware and utensils we needed and a great bathroom equip with flushing toilet, running sink and stand up shower (not even over the toilet)! Toward the back the elevated bed area, when expanded, was about the size of a king size bed and had plenty of storage above around the sides and below. The bed was perfect for us to each have our own side and allow the kiddo to sleep in the middle. At night we would raise the ladder to block the drop-off and place a pillow in front, close the curtain and have more privacy. Really great space!
One thing they don’t tell you about these bigger campers packed with dishes and stuff is… they are LOUD! All the dishes and pots and pans just bang about the cabinets on the already noisy roads. We decided to shove all the extra jackets in and around everything to keep them from driving us nuts. If this were our own camper I’m sure we would have a more secure system with rubber liners and dividers, but mostly we were worried a metal pot would clank about, pop a door open and fall down on our son’s head. Thankfully nothing like that happened and he surprisingly slept so hard each nap no matter how bumpy the road or how loud the noisy camper was. Still amazes me how adaptable he is!
In true Dunham fashion, we knew where we wanted to start and where we wanted to end up but did not plan the in between and just left our trip up to fate. Even the little man was go with the flow! After the first (veeerrry long) day in the camper he stayed on schedule napping in the afternoon and when we could find a place to park for a few house we would nap on the back bed.
Somewhere around the 4th night on the road we decided to spend the next day (my bday!) hiking to Old Man of Storr. Parking to access the trail is mostly along the street for now and there you do have to pay at the meter to park (for either 3 to 6 hours). When we were there a large parking lot was being built just past the entrance to the hike and little man loved watching the diggers beyond the fence.
The “path” up to the top is very noticeable, just follow the mail trail from the car park up and up and up… and I mean it, it’s a constant grade, pretty steep climb to the top. We reminded each other to just pace ourselves and keep going up at a steady pace. We went through a couple farm gates and at one point the trail split where we were left with a choice, left or straight. We chose straight as it seemed like the easiest choice. Turns out we chose the harder path, the older path, the way everyone goes. To the left was the new, flatter, curvy path that had new gravel and an easy steady climb with gorgeous views switch-backing it’s way to the peak. I only know this because we went this way on the way back down, ha.
Once you get to a point where you can see the Storr, the path becomes somewhat of a disaster. Tourists and busloads of people hike up here daily and (imo) just destroy the natural landscape, the trail went from a single trail to several paths and people have worn down natural areas off the trails and up along the hillsides trying to either stay out of the mud or trying to get that IG worthy shot. I can understand not wanting to get stuck in the mud but at one point it just made everything so confusing. You couldn’t tell where to go or where was the path and everyone could just roam anywhere they wanted with no regard to nature.
We stayed on the path as much as possible and made our way up to the top. Tre had read online that when you get to what you think is the top, keep going. The views just get better and better. I wish I personally had even gone further up but with the babe in tow we let him down to wander and stretch his legs. And of course I sent Tre go up higher and explore while I watched the dude, even to climb to the top of a tall rock so I could get a great shot.
The panoramic views were incredible, you feel like you’re on top of the world and on another planet. Similar to Iceland the rocks are all covered in beautiful moss so the ground feels a little squishy and unstable. The gorgeous black rocks jet up 160 feet from the ground creating these mystical jagged pinnacles. Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr formation resembles an old man, termed after the norse word for “Great Man.”
The hike down was just as gorgeous only we decided to take the newer flatter path, and it was incredibly pleasant. The path switchbacked down the hillside, surrounded by fields and meadows and the remains of old forests in bright white tree stumps clinging to the dirt. Before we left a stranger couple asked to take our family photo and I’m so thankful we said yes. A very memorable hike and experience for another wonder birthday!
Thank you to those maintaining the trail and to the folks building the new parking lot and hiking paths. Leave no trace, y’all.