|Hartaval & The Storr
from Loch Leathan
Hartaval The Storr
|Estimated net time||4-5 hours|
|Difficulty||No technical difficulties, but the steep gully Coire Faoin south of The Storr is steep and has some loose scree. Climbing a little left of centre is easier in most places.|
|Drinking water||The most likely place to find running water is in the gully south of The Storr.|
|GSM coverage||Coverage throughout the route except in the gully south of The Storr.|
|Parking||Room for many cars at trail head car park.|
|Start height||165 metres|
|Vertical metres||950 metres for the roundtrip.|
|Trip distance||10.7 km|
From Portree, the capital of the island Skye on the Scottish west coast, drive approximately 10.5 km north on road A855. Park on the car park on the left hand side of the road 250 metres north of Loch Leathan.
Start your hike by following the wide path north from the car park. Follow the path 1.5 km uphill, up to 370 metres, and turn left in the path junction. Then turn left in the next path junction after another 240 metres. Follow this path 75 metres, leave the path, and walk uphill. From a small col you will see the gully going up south of The Storr. Find your best route towards the bottom of the gully, and then take on the steep gully. You can follow the centre of the gully, but with a fair bit of loose scree you're likely to find it easier a little left of centre. When you get to the top of the gully it's probably easiest to scramble a little left in order to get up on the edge.
When you reach the edge south-west of The Storr continue north-west towards the obvious summit of Hartaval. There's no path down the west slopes of The Storr, but the terrain is easy to walk. And up Hartaval's south-east slopes there is more path-less grassy slopes. Hartaval's summit is marked by a small cairn.
From Hartaval return back down to the pass and then south-east up to The Storr's summit, which is marked by a cairn. From The Storr walk 1.0 km north to a distinct rock formation. Turn right here and you will find a path going south-east back to the trail head. Note that this descent route is the easiest route for ascending The Storr.
09. May 2013
After a serious delay in getting to Scotland the day before, thanks to Widerøe's cabin crew deciding to take a few days off (aka "strike", which is very interesting when we know they are Europe's best paid cabin crew), Erling , Håvard and me arrived Skye around mid-day this Thursday. The positive thing was that because of the late arrival the night before we had found the Fiddler's in Drumnadrochit, which proved to be an excellent place for us whisky lovers. Which, of course, had the flip side of a large bar bill and a touch of adverse chemicals still to escape the morning after.
After having checked in to our hotel in Portree, and got ourselves some sandwiches from the local Coop, we headed north with the intention to hike The Storr. The trail head car park was full, but parking along the road seemed to be a well established back-up so we did the same as many others.
From below, the east walls of The Storr looked more like a difficult climb than a walk, but I was sure, based on information I had found on the Internet, that the mountain could be ascended through some fairly easy route. In order to find out more I decided to ask people coming down if they had been to the summit, and what route they had followed. But I soon found out that people don't tend to go to the summit but just to the foot of the mountain, and with the purpose of getting close-up views of the impressive pinnacles, like Old Man of Storr. I therefore changed tactics and started to ask only those who looked like they might had made it to the summit. This gave me some information, but didn't convince me there would be an easy route; a Scottish couple said we should stay left whenever the path forked; a German couple said it was impossible without a rope; and a French guy said he had climbed up but knew there was an easy route going around on the north side. This last tip was something I vaguely suspected but I wanted a more direct route so wasn't keen on this option. Then, just before we turned left, we met an older couple who said they had been to the summit, but unfortunately they were a little vague when describing their route, and I was a little too determined to go left and up the gully I had set my eyes on. Hence we continued towards the gully, which turned out to be steep but not technically difficult. And a little bit of fun.
When I got up to the edge, and was waiting for Erling and Håvard to follow, a runner came down from The Storr. I stopped him and asked for routes to The Storr, and he informed me that we had taken the most difficult route, except for climbing, and that we would find an easy route for descent a kilometre north of the summit. This was good news since I wasn't that keen on descending the gully we had ascended.
When Erling and Håvard got within shouting distance I told them I would run across to Hartaval, and that we would rejoin at The Storr. This run was a little steeper and longer than expected so my friends had to wait a while at The Storr, but they seemed to be having a good time in the sun, almost flat out on the ground. As I approached them I saw a family walking around the summit area, clearly looking for something, and when asked they replied "an iPhone". I joined them in the search by scanning the area towards the summit, but in void.
After a quick summit stop for me all three of us took on the descent, via the route advised by the mountain runner, and this indeed prove to be an easy route. It also took us very close to the spectacular pinnacles, on the north side this time.
Back at the car we drove straight back to our hotel in Portree, where the first stop was a couple of pints in the hotel bar. Then a shower, and later dinner together with Harald, who had decided to join us for one day.