The Old Man of Storr – Scotland 2017

Exhausted from the sleepless night, we drove to Dunvegan Castle & Gardens only to find a massive queue of tourists who made the collective decision to do sightseeing undercover today and also realised that my husband had left his wallet in the tent. So we hurried back to the campsite.

There was very little phone reception on the Isle of Skye, especially near our campsite except for a section of the road toward Portree. It lasted about 1 minute each time we drove past. So I would type text messages in advance and press ‘send’, or plan a whole day’s route in Google Maps there. Oh glorious countryside.

After some argument and struggling in Portree (mainly to do with driving and parking), my husband and I headed towards the Storr. There was a small car park at the beginning of the walking route. However, the parked cars spilt onto the road and snaked for miles. I was surprised at how popular it was. If you can imagine how many cars were there, you have an idea how many people were up and down the path towards the Old Man of Storr. Even Striding Edge in the Lake District and Brecon Beacons in Wales cannot compare. It was hard to believe we were in the middle of the Scottish Highlands, took us two days to drive there and had no phone signal. It was supposed to be wild, lonely and quiet. It was anything but! The weather was still temperamental and the Co-Op lunch didn’t lift my spirits either.

We could see the rock from the road plus it was so busy and everyone looked so casual, we encountered surprise number two: The Old Man of Storr was actually massive and therefore a lot further than we expected. It took us two hours to return. If we do it again, we will put proper walking shoes on and carry some snacks and water. We got there in the end and I collected the postcard photo of the Old Man of Storr with my iPhone camera (yes the photo below, I love my phone). We waited, shivering, for a patch of sun to put a spotlight on the bullet-shaped rock, but it wouldn’t do it for us. It was dark and moody, threatening to snow! (Look how beautifully and faithfully my iPhone captured the swirling flakes!)

It was bitterly cold and windy, and our spirits weren’t very high on the way back (either). There were a lot of families from Europe: Children trotting around like scattered sheep on the side of the mountain, bleating in foreign languages. The narrow Isle of Raasay lay lazily across the sea, so flat and thin that it seemed to sink into the water.

I saw the Milky Way that night, squatting between the car and the tent to hide from the harsh wind. It was a glorious sight. It was still blowing but nothing compared to the night before. Apart from the few familiar stars I could recognise, I didn’t know any of them. There was a faded creamy ribbon stretching across the velvety fabric of the night sky. I knew it was made up of countless suns, moons, planets and galaxies out there. It was a “wow” moment alone with God (husband was in the shower), and Genesis understates this breath-taking beauty and mind-blowing engineering as “he also made the stars”!

With a pyjama top, a hoodie, pyjama trousers, and long socks, I could still feel the coldness of the solid and sodden ground sipping through the airbed and the sleeping bag. I wrapped a blanket outside the sleeping bag and regretted not packing my Himalayan wool hat. Squirming back and forth with great difficulty for a few minutes, I sank into a dream of my king size bed in Newcastle…

 

 

 

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