Preparing for the Hike
First, you don’t have to be in shape to complete this hike. I’m out of shape, and I had no problem. As long as you are relatively healthy and don’t have any serious health concerns you should be fine. This hike is also okay for teens. My kids, 13 and 14 years old, had a blast! In shape or not, there are some more immediate things you can do to prepare for a long hike up a summit. For example:
- Check the local forecast to make sure conditions are favorable before you head out. I learned this the hard way after getting caught in strong winds, rain, and hail on a previous hike, amateur move!
- Dressing in layers is a good idea when exercising in cool weather which is pretty much the case year round in this area. Also, clothes that are made especially for hiking, such as from lightweight and quick-drying materials, are a plus.
- Hiking boots are also a plus when you’re trekking over rocks, mud, and slippery terrain. They offer ankle support and extra grip which adds some protection against slips.
- Carry water with you. A bottle sufficed for me, but two won’t hurt.
Sound like a no-brainer? You’d be surprised the gear that some would-be hikers showed up in. I saw one person wearing rainboots and another wearing flip flops!
There is a small parking lot at the foot of the hill leading up to the Man of Storr. I visited in the off season so parking was no problem. If the parking lot is full however, tourists tend to park along the side of the road. There is no charge to park.
The Hiking Trail
A gate off the side of the parking lot marks the start of the of the hiking trail. At this point, the path starts off well-defined and is made of sand and gravel. From the very beginning, expect a steady up hill climb on a winding path. Every so often, you can find a small level place in the trail where you can stop to quickly catch your breath and snap a few photos. At this point in the hike, I was surprised at how quickly I’d risen in elevation. The views were beautiful!
Approximately half way through the hike, you’ll come to a second gate. From this point forward the well-defined path ends, and the trail turns into dirt and rocks flanked by mossy patches of grass. The climb also gets much steeper, though during this stretch there are plenty of places to stop to take photos and even take a seat. Fortunately, the weather was cool and dry when I visited. It had rained and snowed a few days before, so the ground was still saturated and muddy in places; but overall, I could not have hoped for better hiking conditions.
At the top of trail, the ground turns green and lush. There are several summits you can get to pretty easily from this point, each one a little higher than the last. I stopped short of climbing further along the cliffs, and now I do wish that I had kept pressing on. The iconic view of the Man of Storr eluded me because of this, so I’m a little disappointed. Even so, I was able to get some spectacular photos, so I can’t complain too much.
How Long Will It Take?
Depending on how far up you want to go and how long you want to stick around to take photos, plan to spend 2-3 hours to complete this hike. It took me about 2.5 hours. I spent 1.5 hours hiking up, because I kept stopping to rest and take photos. I spent 30 minutes at the top, taking in the views and taking more photos, and it only took me about 30 minutes to come back down with no more stops.
The hike is definitely worth the time and energy. You really can’t say you’ve seen the Man of Storr, unless you’ve looked down upon it. In the end, I’m glad I did just that because this ended up being the top highlight of my trip to the Isle of Skye!