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.
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Visiting Fairy Pools of Skye