Fairy Pools of Skye

Natural Phenomenon, Pool and Walk in Isle of Skye

At foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle. The spectacular Fairy Pools are located near the village of Carbost in Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye. Glenbrittle runs roughly south to north along the River Brittle and is overlooked by the Cuillin mountains. Many tributaries of the River Brittle run down from the Cuillin into the glen including a stream with waterfalls known as the Fairy Pools, a popular place for walkers. The Fairy Pools are beautiful rock pools of translucent mountain spring water fed by a series of waterfalls.

Legend of Fairy Pools of Skye

The crystal-clear, water-carved Fairy Pools are fed by a string of small waterfalls on a burn that drains one of the Cuillin’s vast ice-flattened corries. The legend is that a local Clan MacLeod chief of old married a fairy princess, giving rise to many fairy place names on the Isle of Skye. It is also said that Fairy Pools attracted selkies. These mythological creatures, disguised as large seals during the day, would come to the beach at the foot of Glen Brittle where they would shed their skins and change into human form for the night, to bathe in the pools under the light of a full moon.

History of the Fairy Pools of Skye

The Fairy Pools were the location of the last and bloodiest Battle of Coire na Creiche, between the MacLeods of Dunvegan and the MacDonalds of Sleat. The MacDonalds were victorious, but it is said that the battle was so fierce and so many had been killed, that Allt Coir a ‘Mhadaidh (the Fairy Pools) ran red with blood. There may be some truth to the legend, as the Scottish Crown was sufficiently horrified by the battle to intervene and force a truce between the feuding clans, who never again went to war with each other.

Planning your visit to the Fairy Pools of Skye

How long is the walk to the Fairy Pools of Skye?

It takes about 20 minutes to get the first and largest waterfall that marks the start of the pools. It is a 2.4km walk round trip.

Where is the nearest WC to the Fairy Pools of Skye?

There is a WC at the nearby award winning Glenbrittle Campsite & Cafe right next to Loch Brittle beach.

Where to park when visiting the Fairy Pools of Skye?

Park in thegravel carpark signposted Fairy Pools ‘Glumagan Na Sithichean’. The car park at Fairy Pools at Glen Brittle is a partnership between Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) and the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS).
It is located along the single track road that leads to Glenbrittle from Carbost. The carpark is 5.5miles (10 minute drive) from Carbost. If traveling from Portree it is 20.5miles and will take about 30 minutes to drive.

Walking to the Fairy Pools of Skye

The gravel path starts on the opposite side of the road towards the burn, known as Allt Coir’ a’ Mhadaidh. Ignore an early fork to the left and continue strenuously uphill on the footpath as it runs alongside the lively burn for 1.5 miles (2.4km). A dip in Fairy Pools is extremely refreshing, if a bit chilly, even in the summer months. To attempt a submersion in winter requires considerable bravery, or foolishness. On a sunny day, the pools’ bright greens and blues are at their very best, lit up to create a magical realm. An underwater arch graces one pool, while higher up, the pyramidal pinnacle of Sgùrr an Fheadain draws the eye.

From the carpark there are impressive views out towards the Black Cuillins, the source of the River Brittle. This short walk to the pools follows a gravel path that is in good condition most of the way, but does involve river crossings over stepping stones.

Make sure your look through the Walk SlideShow, as it give a step by step account of what you will encounter.

Fairy Pools of Skye Hike: Stage 1 – First River Crossing

From the carpark cross the public road to find the start of the gravel path. There is a small green sign confirming the start, labelled ‘Sligaghan’. Initially as the path leaves the road you descend steeply for a few meters are about the worst but it then levels off. The whole path can be muddy in on a wet day. After about 50 meters from the road the path splits, take the right hand option to continue down the hill. A little bit further on you will reach your first river, which has large stepping stone to help you cross. Once across follow the gravel path.

Fairy Pools of Skye Hike: Stage 2 – Peat Moor

The path levels out as you crosses the peat moor. Along the path you will pass a large boulder that was left ar the end of the last ‘ice age’. The path gently slopes up to meet the main River Brittle which will remain on your right. There continue to be small steams and ditches to cross, but nothing too challenging!

Fairy Pools of Skye Hike: Stage 3 – Second River Crossing

You will now come to a second river crossing but again there are large stepping stone to help you over. Beyond the river the path rises up with some rough rock natural steps, until you come to your  first waterfall. Follow the gravel path on until you become adjacent to the fall.

Fairy Pools of Skye Hike: Stage 4 – The First Waterfall

This first Waterfall marks the start of the magical pools. This first waterfall is the highest fall and deepest pool.  You can continue to work your way up the river and explore all the pools. Some of the pools are great for swimming in, but are often very cold!  The next pool up is properly the most famous, a beautifully clear blue pool idea for swimming. It features a natural arch, offering an exhilarating under water swim though the arch.

Fairy Pools of Skye Hike: Stage 5 – The Return

The return; use the same path back. From the first waterfall it takes about 20 minutes to get back to the carpark.


Visiting Fairy Pools of Skye


24 Hour

Address: Fairy Pools, Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, UK
Duration: 2 hours

Tours and Activities from Isle of Skye

Offering some of the best scenery on the Isle of Skye, the Trotternish Loop is a 50-mile circuit around the north of the island that simply cannot be missed. It connects many of the island’s main attractions and also provides jaw-dropping scenery. Depending on the season and the direction in which you choose to drive the Trotternish Loop, the full journey should take around 2 hours. 


Portree Harbour Front
CC BY-SA 4.0 / DeFacto

Skye’s capital, Portree, sits at the southern end of Trotternish on the banks of Loch Portree and is the obvious starting point for travelling around the Trotternish loop.

Portree is the largest village on the island and you can enjoy a hot breakfast and cup of tea or coffee to begin your day. There are a number of great local spots to choose from before you begin exploring, Portree is very small place so take a quick wander around to see what takes your fancy. You could also stop by the local shop to pick up any supplies or snacks you may need during the day. You may like to have a quick wander around the village, but don’t worry if you feel rushed for time as you will end up back in Portree later today.

Read more about the Portree

The Old Man of Storr

Old Man Of Storr, Scotland
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Sanshiro KUBOTA

You can’t come to the Isle of Skye and skip the Old Man of Storr! The Old Man of Storr is another iconic landmark on the Isle of Skye, and you can spot the famous giant pinnacle standing proudly as you drive around the Trotternish Peninsula and even from Portree on a good day. The hike to the base of the pinnacle takes around 1.5 – 2 hours and, while it’s a steep climb, it will give you spectacular views of the coast. Make sure you pack your hiking boots for this one as the ground can be very rocky and muddy along the way.

Read more about the Old Man of Storr

Lealt Gorge and Falls

Lower Falls At Lealt
CC BY-SA 2.0 / John Allan

The Lealt Gorge and waterfalls are a hidden Gem of the peninsular –  the waterfalls are beautiful and if you’re feeling adventurous (and it’s a clear, dry enough day) there’s a little footpath that goes down the hill to the water’s edge and the ruins of the old salmon bothy. Very cool and really gorgeous views of the sea one way and the waterfall the other way.

Read more about the Lealt Gorge and Waterfall

Brothers’ Point

Rubha nam Brathairean (Brother's Point) on the Isle of Skye. In the distance is the waterfall from Loch Mealt and Kilt Rock.
CC BY-SA 4.0 / User:Colin

Rubha nam Bràithrean, or Brothers’ Point, is a short walking route to the furthest eastern point of the Trotternish peninsula. The views along the walk to Brother’s point are incredible. The trail is easy and the path includes a couple of steep, narrow sections on the way to Brother’s Point. You will pass by Scottish cottages and many sheep along the way.

Read more about the Brothers’ Point

Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Insel Skye, Kilt Rock Wasserfall
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Herbert Frank

Kilt Rock is a unique sight, and the perfect iconic Isle of Skye photo location! These steep cliffs located mid-way around the Trotternish Loop look strangely similar to a Scottish pleated kilt.

This quick stop won’t take long, as the carpark is located directly next to the viewpoint. Here you can also spot Mealt Falls tumbling over the edge of the rocks into the ocean below. No matter the weather this stop is always worth it.

Read more about the Kilt Rock & Mealt Falls

Search for Dinosaur Footprints

Staffin Dinosuar Footprint
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Nature scotland

Head down to Staffin Bay and the Dinosaur Museum, home to an internationally acclaimed collection of dinosaur fossils. They offer tours of the infamously hard to find Staffin dinosaur footprints.

Read more about the Staffin Dinosaur Museum


Blue Is Coming In Quiraing
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Luis Ascenso Photography

Certainly one of the Isle of Skye’s most well-known and impressive landscapes, the Quiraing is a mythical looking mountain range formed by an ancient landslide. You will find these peculiar shapes and formations up a narrow single track road, just as you pass through the tiny village of Staffin.

You can choose to either take a short walk from the carpark and enjoy the views from here, or if you have more time you can hike the full loop which will take you around 3-4 hours.

Read more about the Quiraing

Duntulm Castle

Isle Of Skye (Inner Hebrides, Scotland, UK)
CC BY-SA 4.0 / PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)

Situated at the top of the Trotternish Loop lies Duntulm Castle. This haunting ruin sits atop a crumbling cliff and offers a commanding view northwest to the outer Hebrides. The castle draws thousands of visitors every year, partly because of its ideal position on the tourist loop and also because of the ghostly happenings that it has become famous for.

Read more about the Duntulm Castle

Flora MacDonald Grave and Monument

Isle Of Skye (Inner Hebrides, Scotland, UK)
CC BY-SA 4.0 / PaulT (Gunther Tschuch)

Flora MacDonald is celebrated as a heroine of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745.  The memorial to Flora Macdonald is in the graveyard at Kilmuir in the north of Skye.

Read more about the Flora MacDonald Grave and Monument

Skye Museum of Island Life

Pixabay / M W

The Skye Museum of Island Life gives an insight into a way of life that was common on Skye and across the highlands and islands more widely at the close of the 1800s. It consists of a group, or township, of seven thatched cottages, four of which are furnished and equipped as they would have been at the time to illustrate different aspects of island life.

Read more about the Skye Museum of Island Life

Fairy Glen

Isle Of Skye The Fairy Glen
Pixabay / David Mark

The Fairy Glen is a magical area of bizarre rock formations, conical hills, and small lochans. Great to have a walk around here and take in all the legendary stories especially on a sunny spring day. It’s about a 1.5 mile walk from the hotel to the prettiest areas of the glen.
In the glen you will find waterfalls and pretty pools surrounded by little hills. There’s also a small loch in the shape of Lochan Mor. You can climb the hills and Castle Ewen (a tall rocky outcrop) for a lovely view over the area.

Read more about the The Fairy Glen of Skye

Tours and Activities from Isle of Skye