A Misty Day at the Old Man of Storr

It wasn’t the best day to go walking, but beggars can’t be choosers.  I was running out of time, and I wanted to walk to the Old Man of Storr before I left Skye.

A fifteen-minute bus trip from Portree, along a surprisingly pot-holed road, brought me to the Old Man of Storr carpark.  Above me, the peaks of the Trotternish range made a forbidding rocky buttress, in front of which the isolated rock, known as the Old Man of Storr blended almost invisibly.  I was going to have to scale higher in order to see it in all its glory.

It had been raining earlier on in the day and, although the rain was now little more than a drizzle, the cloud cover remained low, and wraiths of mist alternately concealed and revealed the peaks above.  The route up to the Old Man is clearly marked, though, and other than being unrelentingly uphill, it is not a difficult ascent.

There is a choice of routes––if you can call two a choice: the left-hand path is longer with a more gradual incline; the right-hand one steeper and more direct.  I am conscious that I have an additional time restraint––my return bus to Portree departs in a little over two hours––so I take the right-hand route.

The inclement weather has discouraged fellow walkers, and I have large sections of the path to myself.  It does not take a great deal of climbing before the view begins to open up; there is Loch Leathan immediately below and, beyond, when the cloud permits, a wonderful view across the Sound of Raasay to the Isle of Raasay itself.  But my real goal still lies ahead.  The Old Man awaits.

The closer I get, the more distinct is the outline of the Old Man from the jagged basalt teeth of the Storr beyond; the mist accentuates this distinction as it swirls sinuously in the channel between the two sets of rocks.  It is a wild landscape of green, grassy slopes strewn by enormous black, fallen boulders, like the backdrop to an epic battle scene from Game of Thrones.

Almost more spectacular than the Old Man, is the neighbouring peak, Cathedral Rock. It is roughly pyramidal in shape, towering to a fearsome-looking, jagged black spike; an ancient Steampunk spaceship crash-landed and half buried in a Scottish hillside; or an improbably giant Walnut Whip. It is rather like stumbling across a piece of ancient archaeology; I imagine how Charlton Heston must have felt at the end of Planet of the Apes when he encountered the half-buried Statue of Liberty.

The path winds on, higher still, but the visibility is poor now and there is nothing to be gained by venturing further.  I decide that I have climbed enough.  I leave the Old Man of Storr to the white spectres, which continue to tease and encircle it, and begin to retrace my steps in the hope of a bus awaiting me.

© E. C. Glendenny

E. C. Glendenny bids farewell to the Old Man of Storr.

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