Our adventure on the Isle of Skye began with a captivating hike to the Old Man of Storr, an iconic rock formation. We trekked through vibrant, rugged landscapes and were rewarded with stunning views from the top. The towering pinnacle and its surrounding pinnacles are a unique geological wonder, standing tall against Skye's dramatic backdrop. This place, steeped in local legends and folklore, lent an air of mystery to our exploration. Along the way, we discovered greenish clay at the base of the Old Man, hinting at the island's rich ceramic traditions and Viking heritage.
Next, we were enthralled by the sight of the Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls Viewpoint. The Kilt Rock, named so for its striking resemblance to a kilt, features vertical basalt columns resting on a bed of sandstone. From the viewpoint, we were treated to a breathtaking spectacle of the Mealt Falls, plummeting 55 meters into the sea. The gushing water against the sounds of the winds and waves seemed like an orchestra of nature, offering an experience to remember. We were also fascinated by the nesting seabirds, such as fulmars, which make the cliff face their home.
However, our journey took an unexpected turn while driving on the island's narrow, winding roads. The tire of our vehicle got punctured due to the jagged edges of the roadside curb. Stranded without a spare tire, our journey came to a halt. Despite being in a region with no cellular connection, we were fortunate to meet a resident who helped us contact our rental company. Although the arrival of a technician brought some relief, it turned out he had come to tow our car back to the garage rather than replace the tire. A replacement had to be ordered from the mainland, implying we'd be without our vehicle until the following evening.
Though initially a setback, this incident led us on a different kind of adventure. We began exploring Skye's enchanting landscapes using public transport, discovering its beauty from a different perspective. Our impromptu bus adventure allowed us to interact more with locals and fellow travellers, making our journey even more memorable.
In the end, our trip to the Isle of Skye, though filled with unforeseen circumstances, offered many memorable experiences. From mesmerising landscapes to fascinating wildlife, historical influences to unexpected adventures, the island provided a captivating blend of nature, culture, and adventure.
The Storr Trail car park on the Isle of Skye is an asphalted parking area with no barriers. Visitors can park for up to four hours, with a minimum payment of two pounds. Payment is accepted by card only, and after paying, a ticket must be displayed in the car's front window. This location serves as a starting point for hikes to nearby attractions such as the Old Man of Storr, and the parking facilities help accommodate the needs of travelers exploring the area.
At the entrance to the trail leading into the protected area near the Storr on the Isle of Skye, there's a gate designed to keep sheep out. Immediately beyond the gate, visitors will find an information stand detailing two available paths. One is a steep climb, and the other is a more gradual, winding "serpentine" route. The winding path is often recommended for a more manageable hike into this stunning natural area, allowing visitors to enjoy the incredible scenery more leisurely.
Along the moderate, serpentine path at the Storr on the Isle of Skye, hikers may come across a small pond. This charming body of water adds to the tranquil and scenic beauty of the trail. Surrounded by native vegetation and reflecting the surrounding landscape, the pond offers a peaceful spot for reflection or even photography. Depending on the time of year and weather conditions, it may be home to local wildlife, such as birds or amphibians. The presence of this small pond enhances the overall hiking experience, providing a natural point of interest along the journey through this picturesque part of the Isle of Skye.
Creation of the Reservoir (1950-1952): The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board created the reservoir for the hydroelectric station by combining the waters of Lochs Fada and Leathan. This was a significant engineering accomplishment at the time and marked a notable advancement in the area's ability to harness natural resources.
Location and Supply: The reservoir is positioned over a cliff on the shores of Bearreraig Bay. It supplies the power station, utilizing the geographic advantages of the location to generate hydroelectric power.
Economic Impact: Building the hydro scheme provided not just electricity but employment opportunities, bringing much-needed skilled and unskilled jobs to local residents. This had a considerable socio-economic impact on the region, contributing to both energy production and local livelihoods.
Names and Terms: - "Steisean Dealan-uisge Lochan an Stir" is the Gaelic name for Storr Lochs Hydro-electric Station, reflecting the area's rich Gaelic heritage. - "Lochs Fada and Leathan" refers to the two bodies of water that were combined to create the reservoir, symbolizing the integration of natural resources for sustainable development.
The Storr Lochs Hydro-electric Station is more than just a technological marvel; it's a testament to human ingenuity, regional collaboration, and the transformative power of sustainable energy. Its history and significance are presented at the first observation platform near The Storr, offering visitors insights into the area's industrial heritage, natural landscape, and ongoing commitment to renewable energy.
Ownership and Transition: Lord MacDonald of Sleat owned much of northern Skye during the mid-1700s and early 1800s. The lease of Totarom passed through different hands, first to the MacQueens and later to the Nicolsons. This shows how land use was closely tied to the feudal system, where powerful lords controlled vast territories.
Formation of Tac Mor Sgorabreac: In 1827, six tacks, including Totarom, were combined to form Tac Mor Sgorabreac, also known as Scorrybreac Sheep Farm. This transformation into one of Scotland's largest sheep farms illustrates a shift in the regional economy and land use.
Hiking Perspective: For hikers exploring the northern Skye, understanding the historical context can enrich their experience. The vast 12,500-acre area, extending 17km from Portree north to the Lealt River, provides various hiking opportunities. The trails may traverse lands once part of these historical estates, offering scenic views and echoes of the past.
Hiking through such landscapes, one can appreciate not only the natural beauty but also the human history that shaped the land. Knowing the story of Lord MacDonald of Sleat, the MacQueens, the Nicolsons, and the evolution of the Scorrybreac Sheep Farm adds meaning and connection to the place.
Whether one is interested in the historical aspects of the land, the agricultural heritage, or simply the stunning scenery, this region of Skye offers an engaging backdrop for hiking enthusiasts. The abandonment of Totarom by 1878 also speaks to the changing human landscape and how nature reclaims areas once shaped by human hands, a theme that can resonate with many outdoor explorers.
History: The Clan MacDonald is one of Scotland's largest and most powerful clans. They are descendants of Somerled, Lord of the Isles, and have held territories across the western Highlands and Islands.
Tartan: Their tartan is a mixture of red, green, and blue. Different branches may have variations.
Emblem: The clan's crest features a hand in armour holding a cross, with the motto "By sea and by land."
Interactions and Legends: The MacDonalds have had numerous rivalries and alliances with other clans. The infamous Glencoe Massacre involved the MacDonalds of Glencoe and the rival Campbell clan.
History: The MacQueens originated in the Hebrides and later migrated to Sutherland. They were known for their warrior skills.
Tartan: Their tartan features green, blue, and black.
Emblem: The clan's crest shows a wolf's head, with the motto "Constant and faithful."
Interactions and Legends: Less is known about the MacQueens' interactions with other clans, but their alignment with powerful northern clans like the Mackenzies was notable.
History: The Nicolsons have ties to the mainland and the Isle of Skye. They held lands in areas like Scorrybreac.
Tartan: The Nicolson tartan is predominantly red and green.
Emblem: Their crest depicts a hawk's head, with the motto "Generous and brave."
Interactions and Legends: There are stories of rivalries and cooperation with other Skye clans, including the MacDonalds.
The Isle of Skye and the surrounding Highlands were often the stages for intricate political manoeuvring, alliances, and feuds among the clans. The MacDonalds' extensive influence would likely have impacted the MacQueens and the Nicolsons.
One could imagine pacts, betrayals, and strategic marriages between these clans. However, detailed legends or spicy stories involving these specific clans might be more challenging to find in historical records. Such interactions would be an intriguing area for further research or creative interpretation by storytellers or historians.
Surrounding you is evidence of commercial forestry's impact on the landscape. Non-native trees, such as Sitka spruce, were planted here in the 1970s but struggled to thrive in this exposed location. The uniform blanket of trees obscured evidence of older landslides, and the hard forest edges were at odds with this sensitive landscape. As a result, foresters cleared the area in 2012.
The land around and below the Storr continues to be used for sheep grazing today. People from various crofts work the land, coming down from the hill grazings. Since the clearance, the lower ground has been planted with broadleaved trees that better fit the natural contours, enhancing the region's ecological harmony.
The Old Man of Storr, a striking rock formation on the Isle of Skye, has long inspired artists, photographers, and filmmakers. Its iconic pinnacles have been the backdrop to creative expression and stunning visual documentation.
In the late summer of 2005, the landscape around the Old Man of Storr transformed into a breathtaking stage for an environmental art installation. Created by NVA, a Scottish ecological arts company, the project collaborated with artists, designers, and musicians. Directed by Angus Farquhar, with design contributions from "
The Old Man of Storr's photogenic qualities have also been recognised. A photograph of the pinnacles looking towards Raasay and South Rona won the "Take a View: Landscape Photo of the Year" award in 2009. The majestic rock formation even caught the attention of Hollywood, becoming a filming location for the science-fiction film "Prometheus" in January 2012.
Beyond visual arts, the Old Man of Storr has been a muse for musical creativity. British composer Matthew Taylor was so awe-struck by the formation that he composed an orchestral piece named "Storr." It was commissioned and premiered by various orchestras, echoing the grandeur of the landscape.
The Old Man of Storr's presence looms large, not just as a geological marvel but as a canvas for human creativity and expression. Its silhouette is etched on the horizon and in the arts, reflecting a profound connection between the natural world and human imagination.
The Old Man of Storr is a fascinating and iconic rock formation located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Standing tall on the Trotternish landslip, it captivates visitors with its unique pinnacles and eastern cliffs.
Many sightseers embark on the well-constructed path just north of Loch Leathan, which leads them through a clearfell area that used to be a conifer plantation. The majority of day-trippers wander around the Sanctuary, looking up in awe at the Storr's cliffs and admiring the mysterious pinnacles.
For the more adventurous, the ascent to the summit offers a thrilling hike. One common route skirts the cliffs, heading north from the Sanctuary. Though visible breaks in the cliffs may seem like tempting shortcuts, they can be steep and potentially unsafe. Another path involves some mild scrambling along the rim of the south-east-facing cliffs.
An alternative route to the summit starts south-west of the car park, leading north-west to Bealach Beag. This path follows a stream that breaches the cliffs, and caution is needed as a steep and slippery section requires careful navigation.
For the true hiking enthusiasts, the Storr is often a part of a much longer expedition, following the full length of the Trotternish landslip.
Whether it's a brief visit to gaze at the breathtaking formation or an extended hike to explore the natural beauty, the Old Man of Storr offers a memorable experience for all. Its dramatic landscape has become a symbol of the Isle of Skye, drawing people from all over the world to witness its majesty.
As you ascend towards the Old Man of Storr, the Isle of Raasay can be seen nestled between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland. Known as the "Isle of the Roe Deer," Raasay, or the Isle of Raasay is located between the Isle of Skye and the Scottish mainland, separated from Skye by the Sound of Raasay and from Applecross by the Inner Sound.
The island has a rich cultural heritage and is a stunning backdrop to the hike. It's famous for being the birthplace of Gaelic poet Sorley MacLean, an essential figure in the Scottish Renaissance. Historically, Raasay was the home of Clan MacSween but was ruled by the MacLeods from the 15th to the 19th century. It then passed through several private landlords before becoming largely publicly owned. The current Chief of the Island is Roderick John Macleod of Raasay.
Raasay House, a significant site on the island, was visited by notable figures such as James Boswell and Samuel Johnson in 1773. It serves multiple purposes as a hotel, restaurant, bar, and outdoor activity centre. The blend of natural beauty and historical importance makes Raasay an exciting sight as you go to the Old Man of Storr. The island is known to be home to an endemic subspecies of bank vole, further adding to its natural appeal. The rich history and beautiful landscape of Raasay combine to create a captivating view during your ascent, reflecting the island's blend of natural beauty and cultural significance.
The Old Man of Storr, located on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, offers breathtaking photo opportunities with its dramatic landscape. Photographers can capture the rugged pinnacles and cliffs of the Storr, highlighting the unique geological features against the backdrop of the surrounding sea and islands. Whether up close for detailed shots of the rock formations or from a distance to include the expansive views of the Trotternish landslip, the Old Man of Storr provides stunning visual contrasts and natural beauty for memorable photographs.
Family photographs taken against the breathtaking backdrop of the Old Man of Storr provide not only a stunning visual memory but also a shared experience that can strengthen familial bonds. The majestic and awe-inspiring scenery adds a sense of adventure and connection to nature, making the photographs more than mere images; they become symbols of shared experiences and achievements. For many families, these pictures celebrate time spent together, capturing a moment in a unique and inspiring location, reflecting both personal connections and a broader connection to the wonder and beauty of the natural world. They are often cherished as treasured keepsakes that encapsulate a special day and a sense of togetherness, providing a link to a meaningful shared history that can be passed down through generations.
Legend has it that the Old Man of Storr received its name because, from a certain angle, the rock formation resembles the face of an old man. The word "storr" in Norwegian means "great man." This seemingly impassable mountain was first conquered in 1955 by English mountaineer Don Whillans, and since then, this feat has been repeated only a few times.
Long ago, in the times of giants, on the Isle of Skye lived a mighty giant named Storr. He was renowned for his strength and ability to handle entire herds of dinosaurs. But his indiscretion led to the wrath of the gods, and one day, having forgotten to block the gorge with a boulder, the dinosaurs trampled him. His mighty phallus ascended high into the sky and was covered with molten lava, turning into a gigantic basalt column.
As time passed, the Isle of Skye became inhabited by the Picts, warriors, and hunters. They deified Storr's stone phallus, calling it the Penis of Storr, and prayed to it for hunting success. Their prayers were answered, and they lived in abundance and satisfaction, thanks to plentiful deer, salmon, and even unusual horned sheep and cows.
One day, the Isle of Skye was spotted by Vikings. Their sentinels noticed an unusual rock jutting out amidst a mountain slope and decided to explore it. Delving into the island's hidden corners, they discovered traces of ancient rituals and sacrifices and found ancient writings telling of Storr and his might. The Vikings chose to leave the island undisturbed, understanding that it was sacred and full of mysteries.
These legends can be further expanded into full-fledged tales or myths, telling of ancient giants, Picts, Vikings, and the mystical power of Storr. Each could contain lessons, symbolism, and metaphors reflecting the culture and history of the Isle of Skye and its inhabitants.
Lava Flows: The cliffs of The Storr contain an impressive sequence of around 24 individual lava flows, dating back approximately 1.6 million years. The thickness of these layers varies from 1 meter to over 30 meters.
Laterite Layers: Between the lava layers, thin red layers called laterite are found. These indicate enough time between eruptions for weathering and embryonic soils to develop.
Glacial Influence: During the ice ages, the entire area was repeatedly covered by glacial ice. Glacial ice moved north along the Sound of Raasay, modifying the escarpment on the eastern side of the Trotternish ridge.
Landslides: There have been a series of landslides identified at the Storr. Some are older than the last ice age and have been smoothed by the passage of ice. The more recent ones are jagged and include distinctive formations like the Old Man of Storr and Needle Rock.
The Old Man of Storr is one of the most prominent and recognisable pinnacles. It probably slid away from the main cliff in a single event about 6000 years ago. This formation, along with others like Needle Rock, adds a unique character to the landscape.
Coire Faoin is a large hollow left by the last landslide blocks moving downslope. It's noteworthy that this is not a true glacial corrie but rather a result of landslides.
The geology of the area around the Old Man of Storr reveals a rich and complex history, encompassing volcanic activity, glacial movements, and landslides. These geological processes have shaped an iconic landscape that draws geologists, hikers, and tourists alike. The interaction of lava flows, laterite layers, and glaciation provides a fascinating glimpse into the Earth's dynamic past in this remarkable part of Scotland.
The Trotternish Peninsula on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, is renowned for its unique geological formations like the Old Man of Storr and the Quiraing landslip. The name "Trotternish" derives from the Norse "Trondarnes," meaning "nose-shaped peninsula." This area's geology consists mainly of basalt over softer sedimentary rocks, causing massive landslips and forming dramatic landscapes that date back to the Tertiary period.
In the Trotternish Peninsula, soil shifts over the underlying rock, creating cave-like shelters beneath the turf. These natural shelters provide protection for sheep during inclement weather, offering a refuge from rain and storms. Historically, shepherds also utilized these hidden shelters for protection, taking advantage of the landscape's unique geological features.
The view from the Old Man of Storr unveils the breathtaking Raasay Sound, with the Isle of Raasay located across the water, whose name derives from the Old Norse word "Hraun-ey," meaning "Isle of the Roe Deer." The Vikings reached this area through skilled navigation, leaving an indelible mark on the local clans' culture and history. Their influences permeated every aspect of life, from linguistics, where clan names and local place names often reflect Old Norse origins, to daily living, with Viking-style longhouses once being a common architectural feature. In clothing, some patterns and techniques show Viking influence, and in agriculture, the introduction of specific breeds of cattle and farming methods can be traced back to these Norse settlers. Even culinary traditions bear the mark of the Vikings, with certain dishes and food preservation techniques mirroring those found in Scandinavian culture. The combined impact of these Viking influences has created a rich tapestry that continues to shape the unique heritage and identity of the region.
The greenish clay found at the base of the Old Man of Storr, colored by copper content, has had a notable influence on the Isle of Skye's unique ceramic traditions. Its composition is reminiscent of certain clays found in Scandinavia, further emphasizing the connections between the island and its Viking heritage. The Vikings introduced particular pottery shapes and decorative techniques that mirrored those found in regions like Norway and Denmark. These included distinctively shaped bowls and vessels, and intricate patterns that have been unearthed in Viking archaeological sites. Skye's potters have continued these traditions, drawing on both the local clay's special properties and the island's Norse influences. The copper-infused clay contributes to specific attributes of strength and hue that make Skye's pottery recognizable and unique. Together, the clay and the Viking legacy have shaped a rich ceramic culture that reflects a blend of local natural resources and historical interconnectedness with Scandinavian art and craft.
Raasay Sound is a stretch of water separating the Isle of Skye from the Isle of Raasay, famous for its distinctive sounds, created by the wind and waves interacting with the unique geological formations. These melodious noises gave the Sound its name. The cliffs along Raasay Sound are a testament to ancient geological processes, with intricate layers of basalt formations and bird nests hidden within the crags. The rocks, dating back millions of years, offer a haven for seabirds, which contribute to the area's ecological diversity. Along the coast, a sparse population thrives, engaged primarily in fishing and tourism. The rugged and breathtaking coastal environment shapes their daily lives and cultural practices.
Kilt Rock, named for its resemblance to the traditional Scottish kilt, is a geological formation on the Isle of Skye that consists of vertical basalt columns forming pleats, with intruded sills of dolerite creating patterns. The kilt is an integral part of Scottish heritage, distinct from a skirt due to its pleated design and specific tartan patterns, often representing a clan. It emerged as a garment in the 16th century, symbolizing Scottish identity. Nearby, Mealt Falls cascades over Kilt Rock, plunging 200 feet into the sea. Fed by Mealt Loch, the waterfall's flow can freeze in winter, depending on the temperature, which can vary widely but often falls below freezing. The combination of Kilt Rock and Mealt Falls forms a unique landmark, symbolizing both Scotland's geological marvels and profound cultural traditions.
The area of Staffin on the Isle of Skye in Scotland hosts an impressive collection of dinosaur remains found in the Jurassic rocks along the coast. These fossilized remains include footprints that visitors can compare with their own. One of the notable discoveries in the area is the footprint of an Ornithopod, found at Brothers' Point in 1982.
Another exciting find at An Corran, a Ceumannan site, is the giant footprint of a carnivorous dinosaur. Although these prints are sometimes covered by sand, several of them are still visible to the keen observer.
In 2004, the world's smallest dinosaur footprint was discovered locally, and the original can now be seen in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. Nearby, the Staffin Museum continues to celebrate and explore the rich prehistoric heritage of the region.
These discoveries highlight the Isle of Skye's significance in paleontological studies, providing fascinating insights into the Jurassic era and the incredible creatures that once roamed this part of Scotland. The preserved footprints and other remains offer a tangible connection to a distant past, allowing both scholars and visitors to engage with the ancient history of the island.
Scottish sheep farming is central to the country's culture and economy, with unique breeds like the Scottish Blackface and Shetland sheep. This practice supports livelihoods, especially in remote areas, and produces high-quality wool used in textiles such as tweed. Sheep farming is also interwoven with Scottish cultural heritage, festivals, and rituals.
In art and literature, sheep often appear in paintings of pastoral landscapes and symbolize innocence in literary works by authors like Sir Walter Scott. Scottish cuisine is rich in dishes featuring lamb, including Scotch broth and the famous haggis. The textile industry, with products like Fair Isle sweaters, reflects Scotland's renowned wool production.
Together, these elements demonstrate how Scottish sheep farming shapes various aspects of life, from economics to art and culinary traditions, forming an essential part of Scotland's unique identity.
Driving on the Isle of Skye can be a challenging experience due to the island's narrow and winding roads. Many parts of the road network are single track, with passing places to allow vehicles to negotiate oncoming traffic. The tight turns and lack of shoulders on the roads can make driving difficult, especially for those unfamiliar with such conditions.
One common hazard faced by drivers on Skye is the risk of scraping the wheels against the curbs, which can result in a punctured tire. This very incident occurred with us, illustrating the potential challenges faced on these roads. It's an occurrence that emphasizes the importance of cautious driving on the island and an understanding of the local road conditions. Such experiences can add an unexpected twist to the adventure of exploring the beautiful landscapes of Skye, making it vital for visitors to approach the roads with respect and awareness.
Driving along the narrow roads of the Isle of Skye, I pulled off to the side after travelling about 300 meters with a damaged tire. My family and I were surprised to find no spare tire in the car, though I had suspected this might be the case. Many modern manufacturers don't include a spare, just an air pump for minor repairs. But this was a tear, not a slow leak. To make matters worse, we had no cell signal in the area. Our journey had ended abruptly, but we were fortunate to meet a resident who helped us call the rental company. They were also surprised by the lack of a spare and told us to expect a technician in an hour to an hour and a half. So, there we were, honestly paused in life, listening to the wind, watching the grass sway, eating berries, and waiting for help. It was an unexpected but beautiful moment of reflection.
After a long wait of one and a half hours, the technician finally arrived. However, he had no spare tire with him and was there solely to transport us and the car. He would take us back to our hotel and our car to the garage. The new tire had to be ordered from the mainland, and it wouldn't arrive until noon the next day. The car would be ready for pick up by evening. This extended our pause, but we didn't let it put a damper on our travels. We decided to explore the island by bus, which turned out to be an adventure in itself, as I will elaborate further.