The Storr via The Old Man of Storr

The Storr & The Old Man of Storr

This is a walk through arguably Britain's most unique landscape. The Storr is the highest point on the Trotternish Ridge on the Isle of Skye. The Trotternish Ridge is the longest geological landslip in Britain and exposes the innards of an ancient landscape sculpted by volcanic activity. Below The Storr is The Sanctuary, home to the extraordinary rock pinnacles the Old Man of Storr and the Needle Rock. This landscape is so unique and alien in appearance that Hollywood film director Ridley Scott used the Trotternish Ridge as a filming location for his latest science fiction blockbuster movie Prometheus. This route climbs the popular ascent path through the forest to the Old Man of Storr then continues north through The Sanctuary passing the Needle Rock. The route then rounds the top of Coire Scamadal to reach the col north of The Storr before switching back to ascend its northern ridge to its summit and incredible views. Those wishing to just visit the Old Man of Storr can climb the steep forestry path then return the same way for an easy walk.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from a car park on the A855 six miles north of Portree at grid reference NG509529. The car park is on the left or west side of the road just after it rises from Loch Leathan.
  2. From the car park head out of the northern end to a stone cairn and gate into the forest. Follow the path through the forest which zig zags its way up some fairly steep ground.
  3. After a kilometre of ascent through the forest you will have gained a hundred and fifty metres in height and will find yourself above the forest. Where the path reaches the forestry boundary fence pass through the gate to open land.
  4. Above the forest you will now get your first proper view of the Old Man of Storr. Behind you will be a wide panoramic view across the Sound of Raasay to the Isle of Raasay and the Scottish mainland.
  5. Continue along the path ascending towards the Old Man of Storr. After three hundred metres the path turns left and heads up to the foot of the incredible Old Man of Storr. As you get closer you start to appreciate just how tall it is.
  6. After exploring the Old Man of Storr head north towards the unmistakable Needle Rock. From the Old Man of Storr the Needle Rock takes on the stunning shape of a towering pointed cone.
  7. However as you approach the Needle Rock you realise you were looking at the end of a wedge of rock with many small holes. This viewpoint gives the rock its other name of The Cathedral.
  8. Continue north after the Needle Rock and head towards a narrow col where a small wooden stile crosses a barbed wire fence. After the fence you will be looking down into the wide Corie Scamadal and Loch Scamadal.
  9. At this point turn left and ascend for a short while until you find yourself an a kind of upper level of Coire Scamadal. Follow a faint path north west then north through this corrie to reach the col north of The Storr.
  10. Once up on the col switch completely back on yourself and ascend the northern ridge of The Storr. A fairly straight forward ascent of just over a kilometre will find you stood at the stone OS trig point pillar at the summit of The Storr.
  11. The views on a good day are incredible. There are views far and wide to the Red Cuillins, Black Cuillins, Scottish Mainland, Isle of Raasay, the rest of the Trotternish Ridge and of course below over the cliffs to The Sanctuary.
  12. From the summit descend west to south west for two hundred metres. Then descend south for just under a kilometre to reach Bealach Beag. When you reach the stream follow it down a narrow ravine over the cliffs and descend towards open land below.
  13. Once you have tackled the ravine the path flattens out on the open land. Here follow the faint path in a south east direct and after a kilometre you will reach the A855 road above Loch Leathan. Turned left and walk along the road for less than a kilometre to reach the car park.
  14. One place worth exploring if you have time after this walk is Bearreraig Bay. A designated Site of Special Scientific Interest, Bearreraig Bay's fragile basalt cliffs make it one of the best places in Scotland for fossils. There are also remnants of an old community in the bay and it has a working hydro-electric power station.
  15. To reach Bearreraig Bay. As you drive from the car park back towards the northern end of Loch Leathan turn left down a minor road. At the end of the road there is a view point that gives information on the history of Bearreraig Bay. A very steep path descends to the bay. This path is steep and tricky in places and you have to return the same way.
  16. For refreshments after the walk I would highly recommend a visit to the pretty harbour town of Portree where there is an abundance of friendly pubs and restaurants all selling refreshing local ales and tasty freshly caught seafood.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer 408 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 23 Map Click to buy Harveys Storr & Trotternish Map Click to buy Pathfinder Guides Isle of Skye

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.