Experience Scotland’s breathtaking beauty and nature when hiking the Isle of Skye’s most recognizable landmark, the Old Man of Storr. With its spectacular landscape, magical views and varied terrain, there is something for everyone to enjoy on this awe-inspiring hike. After a fun adventure, I am sharing 7 tips for hiking Scotland’s Old Man of Storr Walk on the Beautiful Isle of Skye.
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The Old Man of Storr Walk is a 2.75 mi/4.5 km loop trail rated as moderate. There is an elevation gain of 1,059ft and the trail takes an average of 2 hours to complete. The trailhead is located at the parking lot (or car park!) on road A855.
Fun fact! The Storr or an stòr means big or prominent in Norse.
Walk or Hike?
Ah! The regional differences in English. In the United Kingdom, where Old Man of Storr is located, the word walk can mean any walk such as a leisurely stroll in the park or a difficult hours long hike. On the other side of the pond in English speaking North America, walk usually refers to a leisurely stroll while hike is the preferred term for longer walks, usually in mountains or deserts, that require greater physical exertion. Since I am on the North American side of the pond, I will mostly use the word hike in this post!
Our Old Man of Storr Walk
Sal and I hiked the Old Man of Storr Walk on a Sunday in July. We started the hike at 5pm and finished at 7pm, finishing the hike in 2 hours. We did the Old Man of Storr walk in the evening after completing the 4 mile Quiraing Walk earlier in the day. Because we were already tired after hiking the Quiraing, we hiked a bit slower than usual.
Our Airbnb host told us that a lot of people give up on the Old Man of Storr walk because of how steep and rocky it is. But she said the complete circuit was really lovely. It really was!
After the two hikes, we were exhausted! It was ambitious to do both hikes in one day. It surprised our Airbnb host to hear that we did both walks in one day! But given that our time in the Isle of Skye was limited due to Buddy’s tour schedule, we made it work. However, on a future trip, we will do the two hikes on two different days.
Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the Isle of Skye during his choir’s trip to Scotland. But he did do a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to Glencoe and Loch Ness. He took a Loch Ness cruise and got to see the famous highland cows! Then he his choir traveled south to perform in venues in England and Wales. So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective about this hike.
A casual teenage hiker, Buddy would have joined us on this trek if he had been traveling with us. Given that the trail is steep and rocky and that there are a lot of uneven steps to climb, I would not recommend this trail for littles. However, older kids would do great on the Old Man of Storr walk. Case in point, there were a few young girls on the trail, in their tweens, maybe 10-12 years old. They started the climb after us and passed us – leaving us in the dust!
7 tips for hiking Scotland’s Old Man of Storr Walk
1. Be prepared to pay for parking
The Old Man of Storr Walk Car Park is located at Skye IV51 9HX, United Kingdom off Road A855.
Unfortunately, parking is not free. However, the parking meters take both cash and card, which makes paying for parking easy. So, bring either your card or some cash for the parking meters.
When we visited, parking cost £3 for three hours and then more after that. Given that the hike is only 2 hours out and back, the three hours should be more than enough time. Unless, of course, you plan on eating lunch or taking your time exploring at the top. Then you may want to pay for extra time just to be safe. Either way, keep an eye on the time.
We arrived in the evening and found a parking spot without a hassle. Although sometimes the parking lot does fill up. So come early to guarantee your spot.
2. There are facilities
Unlike Quiraing Walk, there are facilities-woo hoo!
Restrooms are located in the parking lot by the trailhead. The restrooms are accessible, they have changing stations for kiddos, and there is even an area to park your bikes nearby.
3. Bring an offline map
Perhaps they are there. Perhaps I just missed them. But while hiking both the Quiraing Walk and the Old Man of Storr Walk, I did not see any trail markers! No arrows, no color-coded symbols, nothing! Add to that the fact that the many little trails in and around the area of both these hikes, it is easy to take an unexpected detour, like we did on the Quiraing Walk.
For that reason, I recommend downloading an offline map of the Old Man of Storr Walk. This way, you have a map of the trails for reference in case you get sidetracked by other trails in the area. Also, taking a photo of the map on the trail head to cross reference that with your online map as you hike is a great way to know where you are in space and gauge how much time you have before your parking expires!
After our adventure on the Quiraing Walk, Sal and I used downloaded maps plus a photo from the trail head to navigate the loops of trails that make up the Old Man of Storr Walk.
4. Be prepared to climb steps
The Old Man of Storr Walk is rocky with many uneven rock stairs that you need to climb on up and down the hillside. Be prepared to climb many, many steps.
And be careful where and how you step. When we hiked the Old Man of Storr Walk, we saw a fellow hiker being carried from the trail to a nearby ambulance by emergency services personnel with a leg or ankle injury. Be very careful where you step on this hike, especially on the climb up and down.
5. Prepare for crowds
Due to its popularity with tourists, there are often large crowds on Old Man of Storr Walk. Be prepared to share the trail with lots of other hikers. Practice good trail etiquette, yield to hikers going uphill, and be kind.
Sal and I hiked the Old Man of Storr Walk during peak season and there were a lot of people on the trail! Fellow hikers included families with bigger kiddos as well as other travelers. Even though the trail was packed, we found a few minutes of solitude among the rocks as we explored the loops near the Old Man of Storr. Maybe because it was a Sunday evening, but when we visited most of the fellow hikers walked to the top of the hill near the Old Man of Storr, sat down and took in the views, and then hiked back down. This left the loop trails around the top without many hikers.
Unfortunately, when we visited, some of the trails on the top of the hill were closed for repair.
6. What to bring
For this shorter hike, bring a full water bottle, sunscreen(yes sunscreen! the clouds can be deceiving, we did get a little burned!), lip balm to protect your lips from the wind, an offline map, and layers as the weather can quickly change in the area.
Also, bring snacks or pack a lunch. The grocery stores in Portree cater to hikers and offer premade sandwiches, fruit, trail mix, and other easy to grab and go items to take as snacks or meals on your hike. If you are packing a lunch, reusable sandwich bags and collapsible meal kits are helpful. And lastly, a simple first aid kit might come in handy.
After forgetting our water bottles on the while hiking Quiraing Walk, we remembered them when hiking the Old Man of Storr Walk. The other item that we forgot at the Airbnb (but did use when hiking in Ireland) was our day pack. Instead, I hiked with my crossbody bag. And as much as I love that bag, it is not meant for hiking! It kept sliding around and throwing me off balance. Never again will I make that mistake.
7. What to wear on the Old Man of Storr Walk
As the weather can change very quickly on the Old Man of Storr Walk, you want to dress in layers. Also, and waterproof and wind proof jackets, waterproof pants, and waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support are a must for this hike.
While hiking in July, we saw fellow hikers on the trail with gloves and beanies for warmth. As a desert dweller sensitive to the cold, I did not think that it was necessary to wear gloves on this hike in July. But I bet if you hike a bit earlier or later in the season, the gloves and beanie will come in handy. Also, most people on this trail wore hiking boots, rather than a hiking shoe.
As desert dwellers and hikers, we purchased wind and waterproof items to hike in Scotland. Because I had no experience hiking in boggy conditions, I opted for these Columbia Hiking Shoes because they are high top and waterproof hiking boots. The only thing about these boots is that they do not have great arch support. For that reason, I purchased some insoles.
Sal and I wore layers. I wore this lined Columbia rain jacket which protected me very well from the chilly wind. Underneath I had another cozy North Face jacket, which went on top of a long sleeve yoga top from Stitch Fix, and a tank top and sports bra. On the bottom, I wore yoga pants from Stitch Fix with REI Co-op rain pants layered on top. Luckily, it didn’t rain on this hike, but I would have been well protected if it did!
I also recommend sweat wicking or fast dry clothing for the Old Man of Storr Walk. There is nothing worse than being sticky sweaty when it is cold and windy.
Buddy and I created an entire Scotland packing list for your reference that you can find here.
Would we do it again?
At the end of the hike, I asked Sal if he recommends Old Man of Storr Walk and he said yes!
I would definitely hike The Old Man of Storr again! But I would not do the two hikes on the same day – it was exhausting! Also, we did not film a Movement Postcard on this hike. Maybe next time!
I hope these tips helped if you’re planning to hike Scotland’s Old Man of Storr Walk on the Isle of Skye! It truly is a beautiful place that is worth a visit!
Have you hiked Old Man of Storr Walk? If so, what are your recommendations? Let us know in the comments below.
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: The Ultimate Guide
- Quiraing Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Tips for Visiting the Famous Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
- Brother’s Point: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
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10 thoughts on “Old Man of Storr Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye”
It looks like we can’t miss a visit to the Isle of Skye when we finally plan our visit to Scotland. These 7 tips for visiting the Old Man of Storr will ensure we have a good visit. But I certainly won’t plan to hike this after doing some of the other great hikes in the area! Such stunning sights and work the hike. But I would plan to visit when it was not crowded if possible to have it all to myself.
What a gorgeous place to hike! I’ve pinned it for when I’m back in Scotland! Thanks for sharing.
Another place added to my travel bucket list.
Crazy that there weren’t any route markers. We get so used to those hiking in the US.
We really do!
Scotland is high on my 2023 travel list! Loved all these tips for visiting old man storr! It looked absolutely magical!
I love that your hike recommendations provide some insight into the level of the hike and especially about the elevation gain. It helps me to assess what my real hiking time might be. And with great views on this hike to the Old Man of Storr, I know we would be stopping many times. And not just to catch our breath!
This looks like a fun day out – i like to go on ‘walks’.
We really regret not going to Isle of Sky when we were in Scotland and hope to get back by 2024. These are great tips for us as hikers and I am saving for later!!
These are such beautiful views. I love the landscape so much. I’d love to visit. Thank you for sharing! Saving this for later.