Dark cloud, sun and rainbow on the spectacular Storr
by dogplodder » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:20 am
Route description: The Storr - ascent
Grahams included on this walk: The Storr
Date walked: 30/09/2016
Time taken: 4 hours
Distance: 9 km5 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Pete was happy for me to go so I left the cottage at 8.15, drove to the parking area, got booted up and then discovered the walking poles were in the roof box and I didn't have the key. I considered going without them but the old knees can be painful on the descent so decided I'd better go back. I'd had a quick look and could see no sign of sheep on the hill so decided I'd also pick up one of the dogs to take along for company. So it was 9.10 that Tess and I headed through the gate by the information board and up the well made track that winds through a felled area set to become native woodland. This new track has made a huge difference to the lower part of the ascent and old sections of eroded wet path can be seen now blocked off.
Looking over felled area to Loch Leathan
Once through the gate ahead the well made path ends
Compared to what it was like a couple of hours later there weren't many people about but I could see a young couple ahead of me. Just through the gate there's a large boulder and the lad was posing for photos on top so I asked if they'd like me to take one of them together and they said they would. The girl handed me her camera and scrambled up. They might have been Dutch, I'm not sure, but they were the first of many international visitors I met visiting the Old Man of Storr.
Atmospheric and mysterious
There was a fair bit of cloud swirling about the cliffs which I hoped would clear by the time I was at the summit to give the excellent views to be had up there. I followed the path to the right which climbs up the moor towards the end of the line of cliffs, passing below Cathedral Rock.
Continuation of path and the knoll in centre that serves as a photographers' podium
I was glad I'd brought Tess. She's a hill savvy dog and good company. At twelve and a half her joints are a bit arthritic so I've retired her off the big days but it's great to have her out again for the shorter climbs. We came across sheep just beyond the Old Man but she was no problem, looking at them and then at me and when I said a firm "No" she didn't take a second look. I would have had to put old Jack boy on the lead so close to sheep as he still finds it hard not to give chase to anything furry, feathered or woolly that makes a run for it.
Old Tess and the Old Man
The path leads to a fence with what's described as a broken down stile. It's a pile of rocks on either side of a barbed wire fence so I'm not sure it's even that and not having very long legs I ripped the inside of my trousers swinging my leg over. There was no way I was going to risk putting my old dog over that so I climbed up the side of the fence to a point where there was a gap big enough for her to squeeze underneath. I was relieved I hadn't brought both dogs as Jack is bigger and would have struggled to get through.
View back from near the fence
Once over the fence obstacle we had entered another world where we didn't meet another soul until we were back here again and the whole place was heaving with people. The path led round to the left to a short scramble up a rocky step which required a bit of hands but was no problem.
Path north on to ridge
The path follows a wide arc round Coire Scamadal and continues almost level for about a kilometre. WH didn't mention a path off to the left so I wasn't particularly looking for one but don't know how I missed the arrow made of rocks which I must have stepped over but didn't see until the return. I walked on beyond that point until the slope on the left was lower and free of rocks, where I headed over the grass to the crest of the ridge and turned left along it.
From ridge zoomed to the Quiraing
It was a gradual climb from there to the summit and after a while I came upon a path and a couple of cairns marking the way to the top. I wondered if I'd come across a flock of dotterel just below the summit. It's a poor photo because taken into the sun so difficult to tell, although their flight call sounded right. But I'm reliably informed that flocks of dotterel should have left the western hills by late September and at this time are only likely to be seen singly on the east coast. These are more likely to be Golden Plover.
Soon we were at the disembowelled looking trig point where out of deference to precipitous drops close by I put Tess on the lead.
The Storr summit
The cliffs of the Storr, looking south
Dramatic in the swirling cloud but not the hoped for long views to the Cuillin
After the heavy rain of the previous three days I decided not to follow the WH route south along the ridge then down a gully as it was likely to be wet lower down. I'm glad I didn't as I'd have missed some spectacular views from the north looking down on the Old Man again!
So we turned to retrace our steps and my eye was immediately drawn in the direction of Hartival, looking inviting in the sunshine.
Zoomed to Hartival
After reaching the top of The Storr more quickly than I'd expected I knew I had time to take in Hartival as well so set off in that direction, the sun luring me on. But about ten minutes later the sky changed and I started to think it might be better to get back to Pete by lunch time so we still had the afternoon to do something together. All those with other halves who don't do hills will understand the dilemma these situations put us into whenever we're on holiday!
Weather approaching from west (bumps on horizon are MacLeod's Tables)
Hartival under a black cloud
I was sorely tempted but I changed my line of descent back towards the way I'd come up the ridge, found a nice rock to sit on, fed my ham roll to the dog and texted Pete to tell him I was on my way down. As if to confirm I'd made the right decision a rainbow appeared.
Not many minutes passed before the black cloud disappeared and Hartival was looking welcoming again but all my wifely instincts were telling me not to be greedy and to get back sooner rather than later. So I continued in the direction that led off the ridge.
The rest of the Trotternish ridge stretching north
East to the mainland
I followed a clear path down off the ridge which led to the lower path I had been on coming up and noticed at the junction someone had made an arrow out of stones indicating where to turn left up the hill. I must have walked right over it and had continued on for about another five or ten minutes before crossing the grass up to the ridge.
How did I miss that?
I stayed on the path to where it forked to the left or right and figured the right fork would avoid the slight scramble I'd done on the way up. I always find scrambles easier on the ascent so took the right fork which led along a narrow but well trodden path traversing the steep side of the hill to rejoin the main path near the fence with the broken down stile.
Lower path taken on way up
Path avoiding scramble
When we reached the barbed wire stile I put my jacket over the barbs and helped Tess over. It didn't do the inside of my jacket much good but it reduced the risk of the dog being injured. I don't understand why, when this is the proper path for climbing the hill, there isn't a safe-to-use stile or gate through the fence.
Once over the fence and looking down towards the Old Man again I could see what looked like hundreds of ant-like figures on the path and milling around the rock formations. It was by now about noon and what a difference in numbers of people from a couple of hours earlier. There was a steep path up to a high point on the left where I could see a group with serious looking cameras so I went up to have a look. It was an excellent viewpoint but I felt a bit like a gatecrasher at a party that had already started. Those already there (one with a tripod) were possibly doing a Colin Prior and waiting for the light to be just right, but they were being quite territorial about their space and were clearly not prepared to step out of the way to let an incomer get a quick photo. No one spoke or moved so I had to stand uncomfortably close to a steep drop to get a couple of shots before retreating down the steep path out of the photographers' enclave. There's nowt so queer as folk.
The classic view
Approaching the Old Man we took a slight detour to look at a tiny lochan and managed to make our way down by a path that avoided the hordes milling about. Normally it's good to chat to folk you meet on the hill but this was more like a Saturday afternoon shopping centre crowd. At one point we had to weave our way through groups standing on the path and Tess stuck to me like a limpet as if she was worried she'd lose me!
Lochan, Raasay, Rona and the mainland
The Old Man and the Missus
It had been a beautiful morning and a stunning hill - and I was back at the cottage in time for lunch and to do something else in the afternoon.
I've used my quota of photos so will add two more in a post.
by dogplodder » Wed Oct 05, 2016 10:23 am
The Storr taken the next day reflected in Loch Leathan
by BlackPanther » Wed Oct 05, 2016 3:33 pm
by dogplodder » Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:07 pm
BlackPanther wrote:Another magical place on Skye though for me it will always bring back bad memories...
What happened on Skye BP?
by BlackPanther » Wed Oct 05, 2016 4:13 pm
by Huff_n_Puff » Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:55 pm
by dooterbang » Wed Oct 05, 2016 8:32 pm
by dogplodder » Thu Oct 06, 2016 8:12 pm
BlackPanther wrote:It was on the path below the Storr, I slipped and split my knee last February...
I remember the knee injury but not that it was on the Storr. From recent reports it sounds like you've made a good recovery!
by dogplodder » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:47 am
Huff_n_Puff wrote:Lovely atmospheric photos
A lovely hill that only takes half a day - good for lazy holidays!
by dogplodder » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:49 am
dooterbang wrote:Its a magical place, and one I've visited in every season. The views down the trotternish ridge are spectacular
A place not to be missed.
by rockhopper » Mon Oct 10, 2016 12:07 pm
by litljortindan » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:56 pm
by dogplodder » Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:14 am
rockhopper wrote:Was just thinking that it's an area I've driven past several times and wandered around the lower levels but in which have never yet been up high. Nice set of photos and rather atmospheric at times - looks well worth an explore - cheers
I loved it.
by dogplodder » Fri Oct 14, 2016 4:50 pm