Family Abroad

The Old Man of Storr: Scotland’s Most Popular Hike (Isle of Skye, Scotland)

The Old Man of Storr walk is widely recognized as one of Scotland’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information and insights so you know what to expect if you ever plan to embark on this iconic hike.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

What is The Old Man of Storr?

The Old Man of Storr trail, situated on the eastern coast of the Isle of Skye, offers a remarkable hiking experience through a moss-covered landscape filled with peculiar rock formations.

The Storr Trail

Hiking the Old Man of Storr trail was definitely one of our best memories during our time on the Isle of Skye, and we’d really recommend including it in your Scotland itinerary.

The McClure’s with The Old Man of Storr in the background, Isle of Skye, Scotland

How the Old Man of Storr Got its Name

The origins of the name “Old Man of Storr” are quite vaggue and open to interpretation. The term “Storr” originates from the Norse language and translates to “great man,” which accurately reflects the towering stature of the 165-foot rock formation. However, the meaning behind the “old man” aspect is more subjective and open to different explanations.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Various local legends offer their own versions, but one common explanation is that the rock formation bears a resemblance to an old man’s face. Another popular folktale suggests that a giant was buried beneath the hills surrounding the ridgeline, and the imposing rock formation symbolizes his protruding thumb, which sticks out above the ground.

The Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Whichever interpretation you choose to believe, the Old Man of Storr definitely has a name that is distinct and fitting for its remarkable features.

Details About the Hike

  • Distance: 3-mile/4.8-kilometer loop
  • Elevation gain: 1,050 feet/320 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Information for the Storr trail

The Old Man of Storr walk is considered moderately challenging primarily due to its steepness and constant presence of muddy terrain. Ascending the trail involves a significant gain in elevation over a short distance, making the descent equally demanding.

However, it is important to note that the climb itself is fairly straightforward and does not involve any technical obstacles. As long as hikers are reasonably fit and have some hiking experience, they should be able to handle the trail without difficulty.

The hike begins on a wide gravel path, immediately transitioning into an ascent. Around halfway through, the trail shifts from gravel to dirt and, more often than not, becomes muddy. Depending on the weather conditions, hikers will become aware of the iconic rock formation as they approach it.

Throughout the area, there are various smaller footpaths where people have ventured off the main trail to explore. These offshoots offer excellent views and photo opportunities of the Old Man of Storr. However, the majority of crowds tend to follow the main path towards the right.

How to get to the Old Man of Storr trail

The Old Man of Storr is conveniently located just seven miles away from the lively town of Portree in an area called Trotternish. Getting to the Old Man of Storr is easy and straightforward.

Driving to the Old Man of Storr for a hike

There are two main transportation options available. You can choose to drive yourself and park your vehicle in the designated parking lot along A855. Or, if you prefer to avoid dealing with traffic and parking, you can opt to take a bus. From Portree, you can board bus 57, which will take you to the car park. The bus journey will typically take less than 15 minutes.

The bus service operates in both directions multiple times throughout the day, with service hours spanning from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, please note that bus schedules may be reduced on Sundays.

Weather in the Isle of Skye

Weather conditions play a significant role in Scotland, particularly on the Isle of Skye. Clouds, rain, or fog can potentially obstruct the view of the Old Man of Storr during any season.

Suddden fog during our trip to the Old Man of Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

It’s worth keeping in mind that the weather can swiftly shift from sunny to rainy or vice versa. Additionally, it is common for the trail’s summit to be quite windy.

Bethany with the Old Man of Storr in the background

IMPORTANT TIP: In the event that you encounter adverse weather conditions during your hike, it is advisable to give it about about 15-20 minutes. The weather on Skye often undergoes rapid changes, so there is a possibility of improved conditions and clearer views.

Key Tips for Hiking the Old Man of Storr

  • Begin your hike early: To avoid crowds and fully appreciate the tranquility of the surrounding landscape, it is advisable to start your Old Man of Storr hike in the morning.
  • Wear appropriate attire and footwear: As the hike can be physically demanding, it is crucial to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes while dressing in layers. The weather on the Isle of Skye is known to be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain and wind.
  • Bring enough water and snacks: Considering that the round trip to the Old Man of Storr covers a distance of approximately 3 miles (5 km) and can take up to 2 hours to complete, it is essential to carry an ample supply of water and snacks to maintain your energy levels.
  • Stick to the designated path: Given that the Old Man of Storr is situated within a rugged and untamed landscape, it is imperative to remain on the marked path to avoid getting lost or injured.
  • Respect the environment: Being located in an environmentally sensitive area, it is of utmost importance to demonstrate respect for the surroundings. Ensure that you leave no trace of your visit by packing out all your trash and adhering to the marked path.
The McClure’s with The Old Man of Storr in the background, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Old Man of Storr FAQs

How long does this hike take?

Plan for about two hours to do the Old Man of Storr walk, which includes your hike up and back, plus some time for taking photos. Hiking itself should take 1-1.5 hours, but it’s a good idea to factor in some extra time in case you need to wait out inclement weather or crowds at the top.

Are dogs allowed on this trail?

Yes! Furry friends are welcome, as long as they are on a leash.

Can I do this hike with kids?

Absolutely! We did and they loved it! We brought our kids, Bethany (10) and Nathan (16) and they had an all-around great time.

That said, the answer to this question really comes down to you and your kids and your comfort level with hiking.

Our daughter, Bethany, hiking The Old Man of Storr

Our son, Nathan, hiking The Old Man of Storr


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