Exploring Skye: The Fairy Pools

Our first morning in Skye started early, as we had a full day of adventuring ahead of us.  We were heading to Glen Brittle to visit the Fairy Pools, known for the their clear, turquoise waters set against the dramatic backdrop of the Black Cuillin Mountains.  The Fairy Pools are also known for hordes of visitors each day, so we were eager to get a jump on the rest of the trekkers.

Sligachan Old Bridge

But before driving to Glen Brittle, we had to make a quick stop at the Old Sligachan Bridge, where the waters running beneath can grant you eternal beauty (IF you are brave enough to stick your face in the cold, cold water.  Which I am most certainly not.  But I did dip a hand in–go me!).



From the bridge, we headed west toward Glen Brittle.  The drive is green and beautiful–no surprise when you are in Skye–and as you get closer to the trailhead, the road becomes a windy single track flanked by fluffy sheep.  We even met up with our first hairy highland coo.


The Fairy Pools

By the time we arrived at the car park, rain was pouring down and there was not a parking spot to be had.  Thankfully, a few girls were arriving back at their van, so we put on the blinker and waited for them to leave.  The girls were putting their belongings in the back of the van but then decided to change clothes before leaving.  Hmm, strange, but no worries, how long can a quick change take?  Spoiler alert: 20 MINUTES.  Yep, after changing into dry clothes, they stood out in the rain and rearranged their bags.  Then, apparently deciding that one of their bags was dirty, they began pouring their water bottles into the bag and dumping it onto the ground.  After the first five minutes of watching this strange departure routine, we probably should have backed out of the car park to find street parking, but at this point it was the principle of the matter.  We were getting this spot!  The good news is that by the time they finally shifted into reverse and vamoosed, the rain had stopped and we had a lovely dry walk ahead of us.


The hike up to the pools is long but easy.  The pilgrimage of multitudes of hikers has ensured a clear path, and there are only a couple of places that require crossing the river.  And while we were certainly not alone on our journey, the trail did not feel crowded until we arrived at the actual pools.

The entire trail follows the River Brittle up to the pools.  The view from every direction was gorgeous: green rolling hills, clear flowing water along a rocky river bed, the imposing Black Cuillins, and low, broody clouds all around.

Here is one spot that requires a bit of sure-footedness.  If you are heading up to the Fairy Pools, make sure sure you wear sturdy shoes to hop across the rocks.


As we got closer to the end of the trail, small waterfalls began creating the clear blue pools that attract so many hikers.  On warm days, people can dip in to cool off.


When we arrived at the larger pools, we could really see how they earned their fairy association.  Even after the rain and beneath a layer of gray clouds, the water was a deep, clear blue.  I imagine they are even more stunning on a sunny day.


Beautiful, right?  I love how the variegated reds, browns, and blacks in the rocks frame the pools so perfectly.

Here we are at the end of the trail.  There is a sign warning novice walkers such as ourselves to stop and turn around.  Apparently they don’t want to have to send out the rangers to rescue folks.

Heading back from the Fairy Pools was a little sad, but at least the views were just as impressive the whole way back to the car park.  As we got closer to the beginning of the trail, we could see the insane amount of cars parked along the road.  Good thing we got there when we did!

IMG_8654 2
Can you see the dotted line at the base of the hill?  That is actually the multitude of cars parked along the side of the single track road.  I think I count over 30.  Sheesh!

At the end of our walk back, we took one last look toward the Fairy Pools and, heaving a sad sigh of farewell, set off to see some more of the beautiful Isle of Skye.

Tips and Lessons Learned:

  1. You may see that this is becoming a theme in my Scotland posts, but… make sure you use the restroom before heading to the Fairy Pools.  No public bathrooms in the area and nowhere discreet along the trail.  And listen, the running waters do not help matters at all!
  2. Wear comfortable shoes with good grip, as there are a few areas that are slick.  There are also a couple of places where you will need to hop across rocks to cross the stream.
  3. If you have a water resistant camera, be sure to bring it along–this is Scotland, after all.  After the downpour, I was too nervous to bring my good camera in case the rain started up again.  Thankfully I still had my iPhone, but the quality is just not the same.

Next Up:

Talisker Whisky Distillery & Dunvegan Castle


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