#203 – Over the Sea to Skye (Part 2) – Storr Rocks

Storr Rocks – North Skye

Storr Rocks – North Skye

Skye holds many great mountaineering memories for me, but I would be the first to admit that the island gets more than its fair share of bad weather, and when conditions eventually turn fine the curse of the Scottish midge can make life almost unbearable.    Our May trip was proving to be far from typical though, and with blue skies and an absence of insect pests it was clear that our luck was holding.

Below Storr Rocks

Below Storr Rocks

On the previous day Chris hadn’t liked the look of an awkward little rock step on the way out to the Quiraing (see post #202) so I was determined to come up with a short walk that included some spectacular scenery but wasn’t likely to involve any death-defying leaps over an abys.    Storr Rocks fitted the bill perfectly.

Setting out from the car park

Setting out from the car park

Things start to get steeper – and not a tree in sight.

Things start to get steeper – and not a tree in sight.

The view south towards Loch Leathan, now minus trees!

The view south towards Loch Leathan, now minus trees!

The qualities that had flagged up Storr Rocks as a destination had also ticked the box for quite a few visitors to the island, and although we were at the car park at a reasonably early hour, it was clear by the number of cars already parked that we were not going to spend the day in splendid isolation.   Surprise number two was that the forested slopes below Storr Rocks were now completely bare, with the previously wooded hillside completely felled.

Storr Rocks ahead

Storr Rocks ahead

Getting closer to the action

Getting closer to the action

On this occasion the foresters had done us a good turn, with great views in every direction and a pleasant and well-maintained path in place of the previous muddy trudge.   The downside is that the walk is now much busier than it was previously, but it’s still good enough to share.

Storr Rocks

Storr Rocks

Storr Rocks

Storr Rocks

In fact, there was a steady procession of hot and bothered walkers making their way up to the rocks, many having underestimated the power and heat of the sun when the sky clears – in those conditions it’s a case of ‘steady away’ rather than a dash to the top.

Looking across to the Old Man of Storr – note the tiny figure in the centre

Looking across to the Old Man of Storr – note the tiny figure in the centre

Closer view of the Old Man with two figures in the gap

Closer view of the Old Man with two figures in the gap

Storr Rocks is a crazy collection of weird pinnacles, left behind by a giant landslip.    Much of the rock is unstable, though there are climbing routes hereabouts – the Old Man of Storr was first climbed in 1955 by mountaineering hero Don Whillans, though a local legend has it that a thirteen-year-old American girl nipped up and down in her plimsolls to claim the first ascent.   In the words of the late Scottish climber Tom Patey “The date is not specified, but it may be assumed that no pitons* were used!”

(*Pitons – metal pegs used by climbers to create anchors, though traditionally frowned on by purists on UK rock climbs)

Note the rock window at the left

Note the rock window at the left

The rock window

The rock window

 

Just beyond the Old Man there is a jumbled mass of crag with ‘windows’ in the rock, climbed by Chris Bonnington in 1960, with Tom Patey in support.  (Bonnington was nearly marooned on the summit due to the difficulty of the descent!)   Both Whillans and Patey noted that the quality of the rock is highly suspect from a climber’s point of view, and much of the rock remains highly insecure – we were more than happy to restrict our activities to a bimble round the base of pinnacles.

Border Collie ‘Mist’ chills out!

Border Collie ‘Mist’ chills out!

Making our way down again

Making our way down again

Border Collie ‘Mist’ spent much of her time in ‘chill out’ mode rather than her usual mile-munching lope round the mountain, and the warm day left us all feeling a little bit lazy – having had a good wander it was time to head down to the van, and the ice-cold cider in the fridge!

Heading for home

Heading for home

The view out to sea

The view out to sea

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s.  a few days later the good weather was still holding when I had a great day out on Quinag (see post #201)

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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8 Responses to #203 – Over the Sea to Skye (Part 2) – Storr Rocks

  1. To be fair to Chris, the step she didn’t want to do wasn’t en-route – it was just to reach The Prison wasn’t it?

    The Storr is a great place to explore. I was surprised how tiny all those huge pinnacles looked when you looked over the massive crags from the summit! 😮
    Carol.

    • We didnt go to the top of the Storr Carol, though I wish we had now – still, it’s a good excuse for another outing next time we are up that way. 🙂

      • we did the walk to the pinnacles twice – the first time it was gloomy weather and you couldn’t see The Storr summit. The second time it was a glorious day so I went up top – Richard couldn’t be bothered though!

  2. Very nearly walked up there this May when we were on Skye briefly, but when we got there it was unbelievably busy!

  3. LensScaper says:

    What a glorious day you had for this walk. I’ve seen a few images previously of these unwordly rocks but it’s good to see them in the context of this post. Beautiful gallery of images too, Paul

  4. Pingback: #222 – The Lost Valley of Glencoe | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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