After our attempt at hiking the Quiraing was interrupted by extremely foggy conditions, we had to make a change of plans. What does one do when the weather isn’t optimal and your location doesn’t offer much in the way of indoor activities? I don’t know about you guys, but my choice here is clear – I vote for food. And so we spent the next hour or so eating Scotch pies at one of the cutest restaurants I’ve ever been in, the Skye Pie Cafe. This cafe with its quirky antique decor, cozy couches, and vintage teacups hanging from the ceiling was the perfect place to pass the time until the weather cleared up enough for us to head out again. And when it did, I knew exactly where I wanted to go – the Old Man of Storr.
The Old Man of Storr is the most famous rock formation on the larger area known as the Storr, a unique landscape on the Trotternish peninsula created by a massive landslide (Britain’s largest!) many years ago. Popular with hikers and photographers (as well as movie producers), the Storr is one of the Isle of Skye’s most traveled hiking trails. And for good reason. Not only is the landscape itself impressive, but the views from up here are unmatched. On a clear day, you can see all the way across the Sound of Raasay to the Scottish mainland. And while I wouldn’t call this hike easy, the path is very simple to follow and well-maintained, so if your thighs and lungs are up to the ascent, it’s not all that difficult or risky.
When we arrived and parked the car, I was surprised to see that apparently in between the time I read about this hike and us actually going on it, they decided to harvest (?) all the trees in the forest on the way up to the Storr! Every single one had been knocked down and left behind to, I suppose, be gathered up later. The whole area from the road up to the Storr looked like a giant wasteland. This was not at all the pretty woods I was looking forward to walking through, and it was definitely not the least bit attractive in photos either, so we just tried to ignore how
ugly unexpected this part of the path was and focus on the landscape ahead which became more and more impressive the closer we got to it.
A good portion of the beginning of the trail was laid in gravel, making it super easy to climb, but also, if I’m being honest, kind of boring. I like scrambling over rocks and making my own trail (although that often doesn’t end well), so I was much happier once we made it through the tree graveyard and onto the Storr where the path got much more interesting. The scenery around us was loads better at this point, too. Ahead we had the Old Man of Storr to look forward to and turning around we could see the islands of Raasay and Rona in the Sound behind us.
Hiking the Storr just before sunset was the best idea we’d had all day. Finally Mother Nature was showing us a little mercy – we had gorgeous afternoon sun shining on us all the way up and absolutely no rain or fog! But man was it windy. Like, I-think-we-just-hiked-through-a-small-tornado sort of windy. There were many times I had to stop and sit on the ground to avoid being blown over, and I’m pretty sure we spent at least half an hour trying to brush all those knots out of Lexie’s hair at the end of the day. In just one day on Skye we’d been treated to a heavy rainstorm, dense fog, sunny skies, and massive winds. The next day we even ended up getting a little snow. So if you’re headed to the Isle of Skye, be prepared for anything. Seriously.
It took us about 40 minutes to reach the Sanctuary, the area of the Storr where you’ll find the 165-foot-tall Old Man of Storr, as well as plenty of other unique formations and remnants of the landslide. Here, we only had a little daylight left so we had to choose between continuing on to the summit of the Storr or crawling up to the base of the Old Man. We chose the Old Man, but if I could do it again, I’d go to the summit instead. It was really difficult to reach the Old Man in such windy conditions and I slipped dozens of times over scree on the way up. My parents decided to turn around, so it was only Cory, Lex, and I who were able to reach the top and touch the Old Man of Storr. It was totally worth it for the panoramic views around us, but we’d have been able to see the same from the summit, plus have the Old Man in our shots, so we probably should have thought that through before crawling up the Old Man on our hands and knees…and sliding back down on our butts! Ha! (By the way, the Old Man is the tall, pointed rock that stands off to the right in the very first picture. Totally forgot to mention that earlier!)
Despite the crazy weather conditions, we had an amazing first day on the Isle of Skye. I couldn’t believe how much we were able to do and see over the 8 or so daylight hours we had to work with. We started in the hills of Fairy Glen, made a few short stops at Rha Falls, Staffin Beach, and Mealt Waterfall, hiked through fog at the Quiraing, and ended the day watching the sun go down from the Storr. That’s a pretty perfect travel day in my opinion. The next day was our last on Skye – I’m still kicking myself for only staying two full days – but we made every minute of that one count, too. Does everyone else come home from their vacations as tired as we do?!
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