After reflecting on how incredible 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.
The pools are just southeast of Glen Brittle Forest, 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, with their sometimes neon-bright rocks and mysterious underwater arches that you can dive through. They are part of a stream running down Coire na Creiche, from the looming serrated ridge of the Black Cuillin mountains.
For photography it’s probably best to visit on the day after a small rain shower, on a dry day with some thin cloud cover. That way the water levels will be topped up but not too urgent. 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 an ominous 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 the Fairy Pools without a car but you could arrange for a tour of this part of the Isle of Skye if you were backpacking without a vehicle. Since I originally wrote this piece the Fairy Pools have become very popular with tourists. In high summer you might need to get there nice and early to have them relatively to yourself. The parking situation has gone a bit mad too (there isn’t much space) so please be considerate if you haven’t used a tour company. Don’t double park, don’t block passing places, and for heaven’s sake collect up your rubbish and take it away with you!
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 definitely walk at least 100m from the pools to relieve yourself. And dig a hole if you can. 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.