The Fairy Pools…on a lot of people’s bucket lists (a term I’m not very keen on, but hey ho) and one of the most photographed places in Scotland. So, is it worth going? Will you be surrounded by other people? Will you be disappointed? Let your Aunt Katie give you the low down.
Basics: The Fairy Pools are situated on the road to Glen Brittle about 8 miles away from the Taigh Ailean Hotel. They are a series of waterfalls and pools in the foothills of the Cuillin. In recent years a car park, toilets and a bridge over the first river crossing have been added to cater for the increase in visitors and make at least the first part of the walk accessible.
Getting the most out of your day. The Fairy Pools are very popular with visitors – so we recommend our guests get there as early as possible. Some opt for an early, light breakfast (we offer tea, toast, cereal etc as early as you wish – served by a cheery, maybe bleary, me), some take a packed lunch, some head off with the sunrise and are back for a full Scottish by 8:30. The days are long in summer so an early start means early. Another option is to visit at the end of your day, after dinner at the Old Inn maybe.
Parking. Currently the charge is £6 which can be paid card or cash. This might seem a lot but it goes towards the upkeep and development of the area. You absolutely do not want to know what parts of the trail was like before the public loos were put in. Some of the proceeds also go to supporting the Minginsh community – subsidising senior citizen lunch club, helping people who are struggling to buy food etc. So, just by parking you are part of something important – thankyou.
You’ll need a basic level of fitness. My fitness is pretty basic and I can do the whole walk. But I am shattered at the end and the slope back up to the car park is almost enough to end me. The dog used to be able to manage but it’s too much for his chunky, stumpy 12 year old self now so we just do the first part. The walk is dog friendly but if they’re divers or ‘close to the edgers’ you should probably keep them on a lead.
- Quite a lot of people “do” the Fairy Pools as part of a day whizz about Skye. You’ll see a lot of people taking photographs of the first couple of pools then hotfooting it back to their tour bus to zoom off to do the same thing at Sligachan Bridge. If that’s all you have time for then make sure you get the best pictures! You’ll find the further you walk along the path the less people you see. The full circular walk is 5 miles, fairly easy although quite boggy in places. If you have two cars you could park one at Sligachan Hotel, drive you all round to the Fairy Pools then walk back across to the pub rather than complete the circular walk. It’s rather uneven at times so good walking shoes/boots are important. I have seen people in flip flops or wellies but that’s just asking for a twisted ankle or worse. The clearest guidance for the walk can be found at Fairy Pools and Coire na Creiche (Walkhighlands) Obviously you can just set off and turn back whenever time or fitness requires.
It can be midgetastic so take your Smidge with you. Midges are rubbish insects really. They don’t like wind, heat, cold or rain. But they do love a damp, warm morning or evening and a bit of standing water. They’re usually about from late April to mid September so be prepared.
The pools are a popular spot for wild swimming (what we used to call swimming in the old days). The environmental issues associated with this are for another day I think. The waters are gloriously clear, astonishingly cold and highly instagrammable. But they can also be tragically dangerous so ….. well ….. be sensible. Make sure you have towels and warm clothes ready and maybe a flask of something hot because the mountain waters will chill you to the core. I’d also suggest you have your costume/trunks on before you set off as there aren’t really any changing rocks for your modesty.
So, to sum up. The Fairy Pools are beautiful and worth a visit – but plan your day carefully to get the best experience. Wear the right clothes and bring the right accessories. Are there other places in Skye just as lovely if not more so? With quieter swimming spots and splendid views? Absolutely – I’ll tell you about them at breakfast.