What's in Storr behind the Old Man?

Fionas: Hartaval, The Storr

Date walked: 12/06/2024

Time taken: 5 hours

Distance: 13km

Ascent: 909m

StorrandHartaval.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

It was quarter to seven in the morning at the bus stop just outside Portree and for a short while Skye felt the same as it did when I first visited 40 years ago.

The 57A bus roared up the Staffin Road bang on time and the drive seemed slightly surprised to be picking up passengers (there was one other, a French backpacker). We bumped along for 15 minutes before the driver asked where I was walking and I was dropped off at the big (possibly not big enough) car park for the Old Man of Storr.

I stumped across the virtually empty tarmac to the gate at the start of the excellent path up towards the Old Man. There were two or three other folk around, but it was it was pleasantly quiet as I made decent progress and was by the Old Man in about 30 minutes just as a couple were packing up their drone.

Skye - even the bus stops have great views

Nice and quiet at the Storr car park

The Old Man is hidden by the cliffs behind

Up to the Old Man

Needle Rock with the path heading away from the Old Man

Needle/Cathedral Rock

I spent a good 20 minutes looking around and taking pictures. It was a real delight to have the place almost to myself - something which I would appreciate fully later on. Then I made my way past the viewpoint at 503m and over the stile onto the path out to The Storr, pausing for a last few photos.

The WH route takes you along, below the ridge to loop round and gradually up to the top. I decided to head straight up, keeping near the edge of the cliff. There is an intermittent path that goes past several good view/photo points before cutting west to find a gap in the rocks that took me onto the grassy summit plateau of The Storr (grassy except for round the trig). I stayed for a good 20 minutes, having the place to myself which, even at a fairly early hour, I hadn't expected. It's a terrific place for views to the Red Hills, Black Cuillin, Macleod's Tables and, of course, the ridge heading north and south. Fantastic.

South from the path up, the Red Cuillin in the distance

Choice of paths, both involving a minor bit of scrambling. I went right

At this cairn there's another choice. The WH route is straight ahead. I went left, straight up towards The Storr.

Up near the cliff edge

Mind the gap

Looking back at Coire Scamadal

The path swings away from the edge and then up

More Trotternish

The ridge just short of the Storr summit

Top of The Storr

Trotternish Ridge looking towards Portree

I had made good time to the top so decided there I had more than enough time and energy for Hartaval as well. It looked a fair drop down to the bealach between the hills, but it was mostly on easy grass with a few rocks and a couple of boggy bits to watch out for.

There's a path of sorts that roughly follows the few survivors of a line of metal fence posts up the hill and it was a straightforward climb to the top for excellent views north along the Trotternish Ridge.

While The Storr still has the feeling of being attached to a tourist attraction, Hartaval has a feeling of space of solitude. I liked it very much.

Near the top of Hartaval

Hartaval summit

After a short spell at the top, I made my way down to the bottom ready for what the OS map reckons is exactly 100m of reascent before joining the path back towards the Old Man, turning the corner to be confronted with the hordes swarming around the Old Man and the Needle. To be fair, it's a reasonable climb up to 500m, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, but I can't help but reflect on what Skye used to be like and what it can be like if you just go that tiny bit further.

Looking back at Hartaval

The path back to the Old Man and the hordes

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Location: Westray, Orkney
Activity: Walker
Place: Westray

Munros: 3
Corbetts: 5
Fionas: 13
Donalds: 27+11
Hewitts: 7
Sub 2000: 69
Islands: 24
Long Distance routes: West Highland Way   

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Joined: Jul 07, 2017
Last visited: Jun 17, 2024
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