Skye: The Fairy Pools

People who know me well are aware of my excessive obsession with love of the Isle of Skye. I mentioned my passion for this place in my recent blog post about Raasay (which is an island reached by a wee ferry from Sconser on Skye) – and this is the first of what I am sure will be many posts about Skye itself. Many, many, many posts…

I mean, there’s just no way to condense the awesomeness of this place in a single blog post, is there? We’d be here all day. And we are all busy people, aren’t we? For a start, it’s a bloody big island! The landscape changes from jaggy mountains to lush greenery and back again; it is *filled to the brim* with great places to eat and drink (I’m planning a blog post just on eating and drinking on Skye sometime soon); and there are historically significant places to drop in to all over its 1656 square kilometres (thanks, Google).

I’ve been coming to Skye since I was 16. Handily, a good school pal’s family had a wee house in Plockton – not far from Kyle of Lochalsh, where you used to get the ferry* to Kyleakin on Skye before The Bridge was built – and it was when I joined her there on a family holiday in 1991 (yikes!!) that I first visited Skye. I’m sure that, even then, through the haze of teenage hormones and apathy, I must have been struck by the beauty of the place. I’d like to think so, anyway. It’s so long ago I cannae remember!

(*Of course, there are still a couple of options to reach Skye by ferry from the mainland: CalMac sail from Mallaig to Armadale in the south of the Island and, in the summer months, a glorious wee ferry goes from Glenelg to Kylerhea – this is by far my favourite way to reach Skye).

Since those innocent (ahem) days, I’ve been lucky enough to have numerous holidays all over the island. Most of these have come about after arguments conversations about “where to go on holiday”. One such conversation occurred with Grown Up Boyfriend around February this year. It went something like this:

Me: Where are we going on holiday then?

GUB: We could go abroad…

Me: (quickly cutting off) Don’t be foolish, petal – I meant where *in Scotland*

GUB: Ah. Hmmm well you know better than me…

Me: Oooh we could go back to Assynt, or Mull, or the Outer Hebrides, or the far north east for a change or Wester Ross – oooh or even Orkney or Shetland!

GUB: All of those sound great – how about….?

Me: Ah fuck it, shall we just go to Skye again?

GUB: Yes please, dear.

I am proud to say that I introduced GUB to Skye just a few short months after we got together, taking him there for the first time when we stayed in a cute little house in Torrin with some of my family. And he’s become as hooked on the place as I have since then. A couple of years back, he even took his teenage boys there for a week! According to legend, even *they* liked the place – and, I am told, the X Box wasn’t even unpacked the whole time that they were there! However, I am not sure whether this is really true or just a fantasy myth GUB has created in his own head.

Right, back to the point of this particular post, which is about a very specific attraction on Skye – the Fairy Pools

OK, so how often have you had one of those conversations where folk are chatting about a famous film or TV programme. Then you say: “Oh, I’ve never seen it…” only to be bombarded with a chorus of “WHAAAAAT??!! You’ve never seen The Godfather / Gone With The Wind / Titanic / The Hunger Games / Game of Thrones??!!” (delete as appropriate). This is also highly likely to be accompanied by a look of such utter and total disbelief and disdain that you’d think they’d just discovered that you’d done a jobbie in their welly and left it there. Well, this was pretty much the scenario when I casually revealed to Grown Up Boyfriend that, despite numerous visits to Skye, I’d never been to the Fairy Pools. With hindsight this is actually possibly not *completely* the case. I have a vague memory of a previous holiday companion trying and failing to make me Leave The Car And Go For A Walk to where I think may have been the Fairy Pools – but I got in a bad mood (probably because I stepped in some mud or something and / or realised it had been over 45 minutes since I’d eaten) so the mission was aborted. To explain – this was back in the years when I enjoyed walking about as much as cleaning out jobby-filled wellies – which I’m glad to say is FAR from the case now (that’s the walking, not the jobby / welly combination, obvs).

Anyway, if I heard the phrase “I just can’t believe you’ve never been to the Fairy Pools!” come out of Grown Up Boyfriend’s gob once, I heard it about a hundred times. “OK! OK! I get it! We will go! We will go with haste!!” And, as it was, we found ourselves there on the very first full day of our holiday on Skye in May of this year.

Handily, we were staying in a fantastic little self-catering place on the shores of Loch Harport, just outside the village of Carbost – incidentally, check out the view we had from our accommodation:

loch harport

harport 2

It was therefore only a very short drive along the nearby Glenbrittle road to the Pools. There’s a car park** on the right hand side, then you nip across the road and follow the meandering path up into the valley, passing numerous wee pools and mini-waterfalls as you go:


By the way, there are countless better photos than mine of the beautiful fairy Pools on ‘tinterweb – mine absolutely do not so the place any justice. As explained before, I am crap at taking photos – but it’s my blog and it’s not nice to steal photos from folk who are better at working a camera than me, so there we are. Incidentally, I’ve just typed “Fairy Pools” into Google then selected “Images”. Do it. Then you’ll really see what I’m talking about.

Note that it appears that this year (believe it or not) has been quite dry(ish) on Skye: the pools are often WAY more active than these pics show as it’s usually been much wetter (again, Google images will help you here). And the GUB’s phrase of “I just can’t believe you’ve never been to the Fairy Pools!” was quickly replaced by “You should have seen them when I was here last time!” Sigh.

You could easily spend hours at the Fairy Pools – and we did. It’s a very easy walk: from the car park, it’s only about 20 mins til you get to the start of the pools, and you can just keep going up the path, finding more and more gorgeous spots and fantastic views of the mountains:


It’s also a favourite spot for swimmers. Freaks (just kiddin – I’m only jealous of their ability and lack of feartiness). There were a few people swimming there the day we visited – and, despite the fact that it was a warm day, I reckon the water would have been absolutely baltic! So fair play to them.

Happily, the Fairy Pools’ proximity to Carbost also means plenty in the way of after-walk nourishment. Special mention to the Old Inn (*superb* food and a very warm welcome) and the Oyster Shed (this place is just phenomenal – fresh seafood and other deli goodies). And, as of April this year, Carbost has only gone and got itself an artsian coffee place! Caora Dhubh – it has wonderful (very strong!) coffee and excellent home-made cakes. And, of course, if you’re in Carbost anyway, you may aswell pop into the Talisker Distillery for a tour and a taste.

Be warned: the Fairy Pools are extremely busy with tourists in the high season. But my advice is – get there early in the morning before they’ve emerged from their hostel beds and had their full Scottish. And even if it is busy, it’s still absolutely a must-not-miss on Skye. Which does beg the question why it took me feckin 25 years to get there…

By the way, this was the ONLY day of this holiday on Skye when the sun was not splitting the heavens. Hence why it looks a bit dull in the photos. About an hour after this pic was taken, we were basking in sunshine which lasted the entire week. I swear! By the end of the week, even I was wearing *shorts*!

**A word rant about parking at the Fairy Pools. It has – quite understandably – become such a major tourist attraction on Skye that it is absolutely inundated by visitors, especially in the summer months. The car park just isn’t big enough, so – instead of parking at the other one a half mile or so back up the road, or popping back another time – many visitors insist on parking like absolute twunts: not just on the grass verges, but often blocking or semi-blocking the road. Now, this is a proper access road, used by folk who live and work in Glenbrittle. I can’t imagine how annoying (at best) and dangerous (at worst) this must be for the locals. So, here’s a plea: PLEASE go the Fairy Pools but PLEASE don’t park like a dick! Get up nice and early and go when it’s quiet; or be prepared to park further away and walk. But don’t just abandon your car in a ditch / block the path of other vehicles – that’s just prize fuddery. Anyway, we noticed while we were on holiday on Skye this year that the community has started a campaign to raise funds to help with the redevelopment of the car park, to make it bigger – but also to try and raise awareness of the current problem. You can read about this – and donate – here



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