Well, it's been a long day, we've come quite far to see this, driven through some awesome scenery and seen many wonders on the way, but ive saved the biggest wonder til last.
I came here some years ago, early in the morning, and the place just took me over, completely. The shape of the land, the curves of the cliffs of the Storr, the light, the Golden eagle carrying away a struggling rabbit, and the massive God like Old man.
But I only walked round half of it and sat for ten minutes before it was time to go, so I decided there and then that I would come back and have a fuller look round as soon as circumstances allowed.
A brief window of allowance presented itself and off we shot, like a startled rabbit.
We arrived in good humour, until they saw where I intended to take them, "up there" they cried in unison.
"Yup, come on" I said jovially
They jumped out of the car and followed me up. I wish it had happened that way but, what you gonna do.
The forestry bit that I'd walked through last time had been cut down, so the first half of the ascent was through a desolate wasteland, which was a shame because someone had erected some strange natural sculptures among the trees. All gone now, but the Old man is still up there, and he still draws me on.
Then it's out of the felled bit, through a stile and onto the sheep sheared undulating roller coaster hills below the Storr, but still the Old man remains out of sight.
The view opening out below and around us is, magical, it's difficult in the extreme to adequately describe the scenery here in just a few well chosen words, but magical is my best shot, it works on me so well, I may as well be under a spell. Over four hundred and fifty miles in a day says what?
I can see the old man, but it's perfectly camouflaged against the cliffs behind it, I wonder where it's gone, am I in the right place? we could see it from down the road, why cant I see it, it's not like you can lose it.
We keep going, it must be there, and as we change direction on the hillside it comes out of hiding, I ask the kids if they could see it, they couldn't either. Were getting closer now, heading as straight as we can, for the base of the Dude, the kids and I soon disagree on the easiest way up, I follow the path and they straight line it the way up. When they get out of view I begin to worry, but Eric soon decides his dad knew best and were soon reunited, but Luke doesn't reappear until right at the very top, he looks very out of his comfort zone, don't let kids wander off, giants wander these hills and they wouldn't even notice one underfoot.
Standing staring around together under the Old man I ask them if it was worth the climb, I think the answer was in the affirmative but only just, we soon take a seat and look about, there will be no sunset for us, that's happening on the other side of the ridge, but the distant mountains fill the whole horizon, The Cuilins far right, and I've no idea what all the others are, they stretch far away to the north, and half of them have water between us, I've no idea, but it looked good. How can anyone bare to live down south with this here, even Glasgow's too far south.
But soon the kids will be wanting to go, so, I tell them to stay where they are and I'll be back in a moment, I want to go all the way round the base. Firstly, the ground isn't even, it slants down towards the sea, secondly it's a long way down in places, and whilst it may not be fatal, the fall would be fantastically painful, almost as painful as Sciatica. Two points that make for a scary circumambulation (take that dictionary), but my boots are sticking to the rock very well and soon I'm out of danger, i'm now facing the cliffs of the Storr, and they are forbidding, the tall thin spire next to the Old man is long on its other axis, but from here it brings me out in anxious leg shakes just to look at it.
The place where the big Dude is attached to the ground, looks like, it's been welded into place, the rock is obviously of a volcanic sort, and that's as far as I go in the field of Geology. But those giants, what a bunch, eh?
I've returned to the spot where I left some children, i'm sure that really happened, no it definitely happened, I really did tell my son and his mate to wait here, so where the Samsons jack are they.
I catch up with them shortly and deliver the deserved speech about safety in the hills, then we run all the way back to the car, dead safe.
"Storr is the highest point (2,360 feet) of the long ridge of mountains which form the backbone of Trotternish... At its foot stands the 'Old Man of Storr' who, unfortunately, lost his head in a very severe storm half a century ago but is still a stately and impressive pinnacle. Once, in early medieval times, when the dispute about the date of Easter reached Skye, a priest, dissatisfied with the information to his hand, desired to go to Rome and hear for himself what the Pope had to say about the proper date for Shrove Tuesday. He was a magician. At early dawn he arose and climbed the Storr Rock; there on the brink of the precipice he watched the sun rise and made certain potent spells as it appeared above the earth. These spells not only called up the Devil but transformed him into a horse. The priest leaped on to his back and away to Rome. But the Devil knows a lot about spells and he knew (and the priest knew too) that it was his right to ask what questions he would and the priest must answer them, and answer them truly; yet if the priest mentioned the name of God the magic would be undone, the Devil would vanish in a puff of brimstone and the priest would be left in the sea or in some foreign land, as it might happen. All through that mad ride the Devil propounded questions which required the name of God as an answer, and always the priest answered fully and truly but succeeded in never using the sacred name. So he reached Rome and the Pope in safety, satisfied his conscience as to the proper date to keep Shrove Tuesday, and returned in safety to Skye. How he succeeded in laying the Devil, always the most difficult part of the business, is not known, but tradition has it that the Devil was so greatly impressed by the priest's diabolical cleverness that on being bidden farewell he went quietyl, merely replying (in Gaelic): 'Till we meet again.'"
- Otta F. Swire, Skye: The Island and its Legends, 1961, pp. 39-40.
Storr is also mentioned briefly in The Modern Antiquarian:
"Natural monoliths such as the huge needle-like Pinnacles, near the legendary Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye, filled the Neolithics with a deep sense of awe, followed by an underlying determination to imitate them." (p. 113)