The Old Man of Storr hike is one of the best Isle of Skye hikes we did, with incredible views in every direction. Even from the highway, you can sense what a special place this is, but the experience at the top makes it so much better. This is one of the top things to do on the Isle of Skye and can be done with kids.
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The Old Man of Storr hike starts on a gravel trail wide enough for two people. It starts uphill and stays uphill for basically the whole hike. As we typically saw while hiking in Scotland in July, the trail is lined with many beautiful wildflowers, including a large number of pink-purple foxgloves.
As part of an initiative to rid the area of non-native coniferous trees, they have all been cut down, resulting in unimpeded views of Old Man of Storr for most of the hike to the top. They left the cut down trees, so for the time being it can be a bit unsightly, but you can already see that the mounds of cut trees are being slowly covered by moss and small shrubs. In a few short years, people doing the Old Man of Storr climb won’t even know these trees were even there.
Don’t miss our post that includes everything you need to know about visiting the Isle of Skye with Kids!
After proceeding through the second gate along the trail, the terrain transitions from grass and shrubs to a rough and rocky area. There are large boulders everywhere along the trail, when combined with the brilliant green grass, is a pretty incredible sight.
After the third gate, there is a small stretch of flat ground before it goes uphill again. The trail for this final leg of the hike is mostly stairs made from rock and is quite steep. The main trail ends at the base of Old Man of Storr.
Looking up at the 164 foot / 50m tall rock pinnacle is a humbling feeling; a chance to feel small at the feet of something great.
The hiking doesn’t need to end here though. From the base of Old Man of Storr, several trails continue in every direction up the hill. We continued walking uphill with the Old Man of Storr on our left. We stopped for lunch on a boulder at the same altitude of the famous rock pinnacle and sat in awe of the natural beauty around us.
After lunch, we walked along a path which eventually goes behind the Old Man of Storr. The views of the massive rock from this angle are really good and we’d recommend coming up here if your family is capable.
Coming down the Old Man of Storr walk affords stunning views of Loch Leathan and Bearreraig Bay. Even the views of the rocky islands beyond are spectacular.
Once you are back on the gravel trail again, you have a chance to take a small detour on the way back to the carpark. There will be a trail breaking off to the right, which takes a slightly longer route down. The views of Loch Leathan are especially good along this leg, but the real benefit of taking it is to get away from the crowds of people on the main trail.
We’d only recommend this trail going down though, as there are no views of Old Man of Storr going up from this section.
Old Man of Storr Hike Stats
Distance: The one-way distance to the base of the Old Man of Storr is 1.1 miles / 1.7km. As mentioned, there are plenty of hiking trails to continue along after the main part of the Old Man of Storr walk, so we ended up hiking 3.4 miles / 5.4km in total (including the slightly longer detour on the way down).
Elevation Gain: This Isle of Skye hike is mostly uphill, but due to the reasonably short length of the hike, the elevation gain is a modest 700 feet / 205m. The final ascent to the base of the pinnacle is quite steep, but anyone in reasonable shape ought to be able to do it.
Difficulty: We’d rate the Old Man of Storr hike as ‘moderate’. This hike can be challenging at spots, but it’s pretty short. Our 3 & 6 year old kids were able to easily climb the whole way up themselves. There were several other families with small kids on the trail this day and they were all doing it under their own power.
Duration: This hike took us 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete, which is a typical pace for us. The kids seemed to not even notice the uphill nature of the hike as they were too busy running from rock to rock, eager to climb up.
Old Man of Storr Location
How to Get There: The Old Man of Storr car park is a 15 minute drive north of Portree on Highway A855. We passed the car park the day prior in the afternoon and it was a gong show; cars were parked every which-way, cars all along the highway, people walking everywhere – it seemed chaotic.
This spooked us a bit, so we arrived early at 8:30am and were probably the 10th car there. We parked at the very end of the long parking lot paralleling the highway, with the nose of our car facing the highway, ensuring an easy exit.
There are pay machines all along the parking area, but they were not commissioned yet, so we were able to park for free. It looks like pay parking will be coming very soon though. I believe it said £3 for three hours and £5 for five hours…
By the time we came back down at 11:20, the parking lot was full. The cars were parked a little more orderly than the day prior, but I imagine as the day goes on it gets less and less so.
The Old Man of Storr Hike Highlights
The Old Man of Storr is one of the most popular Isle of Skye hiking trails and understandably so. There are so many reasons you will enjoy this hike:
- Even from your first glimpse from the car on the highway, you can feel there is something special about the Old Man of Storr rock pinnacle. You can enjoy watching it get bigger and bigger the whole way up the trail until you are standing below it, in awe of its magnificence.
- The Old Man of Storr isn’t a solo act and is surrounded by a supporting cast of rock pinnacles. They aren’t the star of the show, but they have a significant impact on the overall feel of the place. Walk around and explore the area around the rock pinnacles to enjoy different vantage points of these incredible rocks.
- Coming back down, the views of Loch Leathan and Bearreraig Bay are so good, you may find yourself thinking they were the reason you came on the hike.
Hiking Old Man of Storr with Kids
- There are no bathrooms in the parking lot. There are places you can hide along the trail, but it is extremely busy, so finding privacy may be a challenge. Your best bet is to take the detour trail on the way back down; there are way less people and you’ll have more places to hide.
- There are no water stations either, so be sure to fill your hydration packs before leaving home.
- The trail surface on this hike is gravel for the first half, but then becomes uneven with many large rocks. We wouldn’t recommend normal shoes for this hike; hiking shoes or boots are a must.
- As always, be prepared for all kinds of weather while hiking on the Isle of Skye. We did this hike on a partly cloudy day and were continually taking off and putting on layers.
Be prepared for anything; wear clothing in layers, bring lots of water, sunscreen, rain gear, and something to repel the midges (just in case – it was windy enough to keep them at bay during our hike).
- This trail is not stroller accessible, but we saw several parents using backpack carriers for babies or toddlers.
- Dogs are allowed on the Old Man of Storr hike.
- There are a lot of kid-sized climbing rocks along this trail. If your kids like to climb rocks (as ours do), they will love this hike.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
Once you reach the base of the Old Man of Storr, there are tons of places to stop and have a break or a picnic lunch. The views are incredible, so budget some extra time to soak it all in.
- There are warning signs around some of the trails up top warning of a danger of falling rocks.
- The trail coming back down is pretty steep. Kids often slip on steep gravel paths, so you may want to hold hands when hiking the Old Man of Storr with kids.
What to Bring for Isle of Skye Hikes
- Hydration packs
- Rain jackets for mom, dad and kids
- Sunscreen & Midge repellent or this 2 in 1
- Warm underlayer for boys or girls
Other Isle of Skye Hikes
- Escape the crowds on the Isle of Skye hiking to Brother’s Point.
- A hike the entire family will love plus more stunning scenery on the Fairy Pools hike.
- And the one you won’t want to miss, enjoy all the stunning scenery while hiking the Quiraing.