The Old Man Of Storr

14 12 2015

The day before I hired my guide for the Cuillin, we spent a day further north on the island with a visit to the famous ‘Old Man of Storr’. This is a vast area of weird rock pinnacles with a spectacular mountain behind…

Storr, Cathedral, Old Man, Gorilla

click on photos for full size/resolution – they are a mix of Richard’s digital (as marked) and my film SLR

It was a stunning, sunny day when we parked up and there were cars all along both sides of the road for about a mile in each direction as the small carparks were full – a very popular place! We set off up the steep, recently resurfaced path, taking the left-hand fork and later returning straight down the hillside. In about half a mile the magnificent crag-girt mountain comes into view looking very dramatic…

Storr First View

We always head across on paths to the left to the first rocky valley – there are several.

Storr - First Valley looking South

We decided to scramble along the ridgeline as far as possible this time – we usually just ascend steep grass to the first peak for the views. It was while we were up here, we could hear, and then see, a lamb crying for its Mum and stuck on the crag wall opposite. There was an easy route back down to the grass below but that wasn’t the way it was headed unfortunately!

Storr - South end of First Valley

There are superb towers and pinnacles along the ridge but they are crumbly and pretty much have to be bypassed…

Storr - First Ridge Pinnacles

Some of the bypasses are on very steep ground…

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Photo R Wood

Great view of the Old Man from this ridge!

Old Man of Storr from first hillock

Richard went off to explore the next ridge while I headed for the Old Man and what I call ‘the valley of death’ – the channel of many and recent fallen rocks from both the pinnacles and the face of the mountain. These are his photos from his excursion…

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We joined up again at the start of the Valley of Death where one of my favourite rock formations stands…

Storr, Cathedral, Gorilla, Old Man & Chimney Stack

Storr, Chimney Stack
The Chimney Stack (my name)

Richard took nearly the same photo but his makes it look like there are routes up to the pinnacle in the middle (which I call the chimney – I keep expecting smoke to come out of it!) I think you could either scramble up the gully below it or rake across from the right (preferably with a rope for that one I think)

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Both photos R Wood
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I had a clamber up a great viewpoint peak…

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R Wood

Richard had a fancy this pinnacle was a gorilla. I agreed with him but it later turned out we were seeing two completely different gorillas!

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‘The Gorilla’ R Wood

While I thought it looked like a whole gorilla sat on a rock pedestal, he thought the top section was the gorilla’s head and what I saw as the pedestal was his shoulders. I can see it either way now but still prefer my version…

Gaining the cleft between these two peaks takes you much higher behind ‘The Chimney Stack’ – might have a look next time…

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R Wood

We then both headed for the base of The Old Man where a French party were sat in the sun…

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Superb study of rock architecture by Richard

We then headed for The Valley of Death. Richard refused point-blank to walk through this last time due to the amount of fallen rock and the notices telling you to keep out but I always insist on having a little gamble and walking through (as do most people I think) – this time he came with me…

Storr - Old Man & Gorilla

Looking back at the Old Man…

Storr, Old Man & Gorilla

The worst section is under what I call ‘The Gothic Cathedral’ – the spectacular pinnacle with whole sections of rock fallen out making lovely windows. Bonington climbed this in his younger (and doubtlessly rasher) days – it was a bit dubious whether he would actually get down again according to Patey who was with him at the time! Richard took a close-up of the ‘windows’…

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R Wood

He also took a couple of superb studies of the imposing frontal crags of The Storr…

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both photos R Wood
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We then headed off for another viewing peak that I like (along with everyone else I think)

Storr, Viewing Peak

Storr, Viewing Peak & Sheep

Storr, Old Man, Gorilla & Main Cliffs
Great view back to the pinnacles and crags from here

We then set off around the corner above more crags for the route to the summit…

Storr - route to summit

It looks like the route might be nasty but it’s fine really – there’s just one section with a choice of two loose paths around a corner which is fine going up but a bit loose coming back down…

Storr, Cloudy Raasay from route to summit

It was at this point Richard decided he didn’t want to go any further so he settled down on a rock while I set off at a good pace on the easy path to the summit. Basically, the path rakes across below a craggy escarpment on a huge grassy shelf above more crags and the rate of ascent is pretty minimal really…

Storr Eastern Ridge

I saw a guy heading straight up a grassy gully between the summit ridge crags here and wondered whether to follow him. I decided I’d have a look from the top and see what I thought. The grassy gully goes up between the two sets of flat-topped crags on the photo above and looks fine but very steep indeed.

Meanwhile, Richard had an explore of where he was sat and got this photo of the crags below my easy route…

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R Wood

While I was absolutely fascinated by the spectacular north-east ridge which is actually possible as there is a path below the more difficult craggy sections. You can access most of the peaks from the path so long as you come back down the same way – it’s a stupendous drop down the other side of them though. Looks pretty exciting – I might give it a go next time!

Storr NE Ridge

Before the path turned, I turned uphill as I couldn’t be bothered with the extra walk and it was just plain grass above me now. I soon reached the easy ridge walk back the other way to the summit. There were great views to the northern parts of the Trotternish Ridge which were dipping in and out of mist…

Trotternish Ridge from Storr Ridge

from the rock I called ‘The Lion’…

Trotternish Ridge from Storr Ascent Tor

Storr, Pinnacly NE Ridge
heading towards the Storr (above) and NE Ridge path (below)
Storr, Start of NE Ridge Path

I had a little explore along the easy parts of the north-east ridge but you can only get along the first section from the top – you’d need to be on the path below to get to the next peak. I then continued on towards the summit. Looking over the edge between the north-east ridge and the summit startled me with how small the rock formations and pinnacles looked from up here! 😮

Storr, view from start of summit
everything looks small from up here!

Storr, Everything looks small from here!

That peak which is so easy to get onto from the path under the north-east ridge looks pretty horrifying this side!

Storr - Stupendous Cliffs from summit

I finally reached the summit (which isn’t scenic at all) and went to peer over the edge some more. Now, I don’t know if it’s just vertigo on my part or what, but each time I reached the very edge of the crags, the earth seemed to move! 😮 It could well have just been me going dizzy but it really felt like real movement – sort of like an earth tremor – horrid!

Storr - Scary view from top!

I soon left to explore further south where there is another interesting set of gullies which I’d thought from below could be descended but wasn’t so sure when I looked from above. This side gully couldn’t anyway!

Storr - Southern Gully

Storr Gully Cliffs

I noticed no-one else went exploring around this area – it is interesting and more people should venture down from the summit for a look-around really – people are very incurious…

Trotternish Ridge from South end of Storr

Storr - Southern Peak
Not sure you’d get down the gully or the ridge here really – note the ‘stone creature’ looking over the gully edge – dog or frog?

The craggy wall the other side of the gully was spectacular too…

Storr Southern Cliffs

It was all a pretty hairy place anyway and I wasn’t sorry to descend back down my easy route to the waiting (and sunbathing) Richard.

Leaving the summit area, a couple started down the top of the grassy gully I’d seen the lone guy go up earlier. I watched them for a while and also descended the very top section to the path going along under the north-east ridge. He took an awkward route but she decided it wasn’t a great way to go and started off straight down the grass which looked easy enough. Watching her though proved how steep it was – she was able to reach a hand out and easily touch the grass slope and she was going very cautiously indeed.

I decided not to bother as I thought it was probably quicker to retrace my route along and back below the easy northern ridge. I beat them to the foot of their route quite easily. They looked a bit peeved!

I picked up Richard and we set off back around the loose corner. Richard got this superb photo of The Old Man and surrounding pinnacles now the light had changed…

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R Wood

We then descended via my favourite little lochan where I took my last photos before we descended back to the car…

Storr - down by lochan

Storr Lochan - looking out South

Storr Lochan - looking back in

As we neared the car, it started to rain heavily. We were surprised to still see many tourists heading up the hill. I’m pretty sure, looking at the size and build of some of them, that they have no idea how long, hard and steep the ascent even to The Old Man is – there were many red faces and people puffing and panting not long from the start of the path! Some breathlessly asked if it was far to the Old Man – we were honest and admitted that it’s a pretty long and hard climb but they still continued up into the rain. Hope they made it!

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24 responses

27 02 2016
tabishbasit

Nice I like Images view Wowwwwwwww

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28 02 2016
mountaincoward

It’s a pretty ‘wow’ place 🙂

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24 12 2015
fedup

Great photos & remarkably very few people! One of my favourite places 🙂

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25 12 2015
mountaincoward

That and the Quiraing – hard to choose between them. I think The Storr area is friendlier to get around without any particular scrambling though…

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18 12 2015
Mark

Had a few hours do the Grahams here. Amazing landscape and as it pretty normal once I stepped away from the main attraction I met only one person. Next visit I’ll have at the skyline further north.

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18 12 2015
mountaincoward

I’m dead keen to do the whole Trotternish Ridge. Not sure I’ll backpack it though as it makes me really slow on the hills carrying a heavy pack. I’ll probably drop down the easy side to a B&B halfway along or something.

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15 12 2015
tessapark1969

Lovely photos. I’ve been there, but bit spent much time messing about airing the rocks – probably needs rectified!

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

The first time we went there it was misty and we did little but wander among the lower rocks. On a clear day it’s great though and well worth the easy rest of the walk up to the summit.

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14 12 2015
underswansea

Great post! Incredible rock formations. Much more ‘crumbly’ than we have in the Rockies. Sounds like a great trip. Next time take some gloves and climbing shoes and have Richard take a picture of you standing on top of the Old Man! Take care Carol! Bob Those rock formations would look great as the foreground in night sky photos! (hint hint)

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

Not many climbers elect to climb any of those pinnacles – they’re incredibly crumbly and pretty dangerous – hence all the rockfall in ‘The Valley of Death’!

I’d have to get my camera manual and study how to do the night photos first – that could be a while…

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14 12 2015
Paul Shorrock

Great pics Carol! I love the animal references to the rock shapes, all of them quite easily visible!

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

I just have to name all the formations. To be honest, if you’re filing scanned film photos on your PC, you have to think of names for them all and they need to be names you’ll remember. You don’t get a numbered file like you get off a digi-camera. I think that’s why I think up so many names…

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14 12 2015
Blue Sky Scotland

It’s a fantastic area and great for photography. I have to admit I’m shocked sometimes at how busy the Scottish Highlands have become in good weather, which does put me off slightly as I prefer wild areas to have some sense of isolation. Knoydart during a good spell did not feel remote at all last time I visited but you can get away from people easily enough by avoiding the tourist areas as you probably found once up on the ridge itself or walking the Munro tops. Last time up that path to the Old Man I counted over 200 people stepping out from the car park but only 7 carried on to the Storr summit.

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

Yeah, the summit wasn’t all that busy. I thought the easy continuation of the walk was well worth it though. The explore around the summit environs was too. The summit itself was pretty boring apart from the stupendous drop off the edge.

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14 12 2015
Rowena

What a day you got for it! Some great pictures there Carol. I’ve shamefully never been.
I can only see Richard’s gorilla…:)

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

I have to work a lot harder to see Richard’s gorilla! Shows how differently everyone sees things.

Liked by 1 person

14 12 2015
chrissiedixie

Wow, what amazing formations! We drove past the area when we were up there but didn’t stop as we couldn’t find anywhere to park the van.
I could see both those gorillas straight away!
And, frog…..

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

Yeah I agree it’s a frog 🙂 You’ll have to stop next time – just make sure it’s a quiet time like a mid weekday out of season or something.

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14 12 2015
smackedpentax

I remember visiting Storr when I was last on Skye – a superb place. Great post Carol, and you have reminded me that it is time I was back on Skye 🙂 Maybe this year (if I can persuade Shirl)…

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

Richard’s really taken to Skye in general and I’ve really taken to the Cuillin so I can see us visiting regularly. I’m still dying to get back to the Outer Hebrides before everyone forgets me though (if they haven’t already).

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15 12 2015
smackedpentax

I have been twice – both when I was married inn the 70’s. I camped at Edenbane and later stayed at Sligachan. I remember walking up Marsco with a black labrador who adopted us and we got stuck on some screes going up…I haven’t been for years and years…must go again soon, it is just such a stunning place 🙂

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

Wow – if it’s that long, you really do need a revisit!

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14 12 2015
Gaslight Crime

Such a dramatic place, John B.

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15 12 2015
mountaincoward

It really is. I might yet be doing another Storr post sometime in the future as the first time we went up there it was quite misty and the photos were equally interesting in those conditions. Didn’t go up to the summit that time though…

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