The Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools, a multicoloured hike

After reflecting on how awesome Neist Point is I thought I’d write up my second favourite place on the Isle of Skye.

If you are backpacking in Scotland generally or are planning a trip to the Isle of Skye then I heartily recommend that you visit the so-called Fairy Pools.

They are just southeast of Glen Brittle Forest and about two miles before you reach Glen Brittle beach itself. I’m not sure anyone really knows why they are called the Fairy Pools but it’s got to be down to how they look, right? They are part of a stream running off of the Cuillin mountains, full of vividly coloured pools of often almost still water which are punctuated by busy waterfalls. It’s best to visit on the day after a small rain shower, on a dry day with some cloud cover. That way the water levels will be topped up but not too urgent, and the cloud cover will mean that the water’s surface doesn’t reflect too much light – thereby dimming your view of the stunning colours beneath. If you have an IR filter for your camera now is the time to employ it properly to delete those reflections!

Here is a small selection of my favourite views of these pools:

On one of my last visits I was happily taking pictures of the lower pools when I heard a splosh above me. Thinking one of my dad’s dogs had leaped in I didn’t think much of it but still wanted to get a photo of it swimming in freezing temperatures. I wandered up there only to find that it was Kristina that had fallen in whilst over-balancing, trying to take a photo into the water. My dad had hauled her out and she was sopping wet and freezing. Luckily he had a change of main layers so she was able put on his gigantic clothes and get warm again. Silly lady…

Follow the instructions here for the best way to reach the Fairy Pools Circuit on foot. It’s not that easy to get to without a car but you can arrange for a tour of this part of the Isle of Skye if you were backpacking without a vehicle. I hope you can take the time to visit because they are really quite neglected by most visitors to the island and you might have them all to yourself. Unlike some of Skye’s other attractions, such as the Old Man of Storr (which I was shocked to see in the cinema last night when I went to see Ridley Scott’s Prometheus)…

Finally, plenty of people have gotten to this post through Google search terms asking if they can swim here. The simple answer is YES! Swim but expect it to be flipping freezing even in summer. Wear goggles and you’ll have a nice underwater view but make sure you do nothing to harm the environment here. If you happen to wear sun cream or DEET please scrub it off before you go into the pools and if you need to use the toilet then PLEASE walk at least 100m from the pools to relieve yourself. Shame on you if you don’t. It’s a basic courtesy that will keep this place pretty much pristine. Respect the landscape and it’ll be there for everyone else to enjoy too.

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3 thoughts on “The Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools, a multicoloured hike

  1. Hi, I loved your post! I’m actually heading there very soon and I’m so excited to see the gorgeous Fairy Pools. I’ll be one of those backpacking without a vehicle – and I was wondering if it’s easy to arrange for a tour to the Fairy Pools? Thank you!

    • Hey, thanks for the compliment! Yeah it is a brilliant place. I think it is possible to book a tour there, though most of the companies focus on the other sights instead. I’m really not sure why. If you’ve already booked your accommodation it might be worth asking them if they can suggest a tour company now because some of them have set days for certain itineraries. Better to know in advance than miss out and having to fork out £££s on a taxi… Have a brilliant time!

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