The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in north-western Scotland are one of my favorite places we’ve ever been. This was the place we decided to renew our vows on our fifth wedding anniversary, and it couldn’t have been anymore perfect. It was as though we were transported to somewhere in Middle Earth, and surrounded by the most beautiful landscapes. The water was unbelievably pure and perfect for drinking, there was hardly anyone else around the entire day, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. Read on to learn how to get there, where to park, what to bring, and the best times to visit this beautiful hidden gem in Scotland’s stunning Highlands.
Fairy Pools on Isle of Skye, Scotland
Location: Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye, Scotland
Address: Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA,
Scotland, United Kingdom
Admission: None, but £5 Parking fee at
Forestry Commission gravel parking lot
Hike Difficulty: Intermediate
What to Bring: Biting Midge Spray, hiking boots,
My husband and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary on the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands. We are both Scottish, and it’s somewhere we’ve always talked about traveling. Visiting in July was the perfect time, as the weather was beautiful, although much of the United Kingdom was experiencing a heat wave, so the temperatures were a bit higher than normal here. All of the Highland’s beautiful flowers like purple Heather and gorgeous flowering shrubs were in full bloom.
When considering places to renew our vows, we knew we wanted somewhere outdoors to reflect our wedding on the shores of the lake we both grew up on, and somewhere outside of busy towns with lots of natural beauty, which admittedly didn’t narrow our list down too much. We were torn between here and the Fairy Glen, both of which are magical, and we elected to go here because we wanted a bit of an adventure hiking to the top of the falls and swimming. I could’t have dreamt of a more perfect place to renew our vows!
About the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye
The bright colors of the water are rumouerd to be of magical origin, which helped lend to the mystical nomenclature of these waterfalls and pools. While there aren’t any written fairy folk stories pertaining to this area in Scottish history, it’s hard not to understand why this place has such a beautiful, magical name.
Fed by mountain springs and cascading down this path century after century, the Fairy Pools are fed by the River Brittle, and following it up to the base of the surrounding Cuillin Mountains means visitors will encounter incredible views, and fantastic scenery.
While there is no admission fee, the fee from parking at the Forestry Commission gravel parking lot goes towards maintaining and improving the paths, and their efforts were noticeable along the way. The beautiful stone steps that blend right into the landscape was created by the Scottish Forestry Commission, and features like this make the hike much easier and more accessible.
What to Bring
Robin and I love to hike, so we just brought our hiking boots, swimsuits under our clothes, two towels, and bug spray to repel biting midge flies, which was an absolute life safer. These awful little “no see ums” bite hard and cover surfaces of skin and can leave big, red welts. It was misting during our hike up, and the few people we encountered along the way were having an awful time with these flies, but our bug spray kept them away thankfully. If you bring one thing with you to Scotland, let it be bug spray! You can also wear these sexy face nets to keep them away, which we saw a lot of in the Highlands.
There aren’t any restrooms or trash bins along the hike, so be sure to plan accordingly, and should you bring snacks or drinks with you, you’ll need a way to bring everything back out with you.
Things to Do at the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye
Another draw of the Fairy Pools was that there was a lot to do in the area. The surrounding woods are laced with hiking trails, the nearby Cuillin Mountains lend a sense of security and intrigue to the beautiful area, although we couldn’t see the tops for the fog, and the hike to the falls themselves was one of the most beautiful I’ve ever had the privilege of enjoying.
Swimming in the Fairy Pools magical blue and green waters is a wonderful experience, if you’re open to cold, mountain fed spring waters. We wanted to cool off after a long hike, and this was the perfect way to do it, plus we aren’t afraid to be cold for a little while. To get to the best swimming spots, hike to as close to the base of the Cuillin Mountains as you can, there are much larger pools higher up the river.
When hiking the Fairy Pools, be aware that some spots are only accessible by climbing over large boulders. If it’s raining hard, it may be too slippery to proceed, or the rivers may flood and cover the path. Thankfully for us, the light rains earlier in the morning, while they did bring out the midge flies, didn’t impede our adventure. While the hike was easy for us, it would have been difficult if we weren’t physically fit, and there were a few places where we had to hop from boulder to boulder, and my husband had to help me because my legs weren’t long enough and I didn’t want to risk hurting myself jumping across slippery rocks that were taller than I was.
If you’re a photographer like me, plan to spend an extra 1-3 hours here taking photographs. I could have stayed here forever, and while convincing Robin to build us a house along the river didn’t pan out how I’d hoped, we both agreed that we’d like to come back here as soon as possible and spend more time swimming, taking photos, and exploring the area. Should there be more people than you’d like at the Fairy Pools, keep hiking up towards the mountains and you’ll get to spots most people won’t bother to hike to. It seems like most people hiked about 1/4 of the way and turned around.
Renewing Our Vows
Robin and I were married five years ago, when we were both still in college and so much younger – we’ve been married 1/5th of my life! While some people renew their vows to recommit to one another after hardships, having children, or other major life changes, ours was for a different reason.
Both of our sets of parents divorced when we were young, so growing up we didn’t fully understand what it meant to be married, because we didn’t have any good examples of it in our respective lives. Almost all of my childhood friends’ parents were divorced too, so to me marriage seemed like a foreign concept. Miraculously, we work so well together that our marriage has been fantastic, and we’ve built the most beautiful life together. We agreed that there isn’t anything we’d like to change, except to increase the amount of time we spend together and spend a bit less time working.
We wanted to update our vows to one another, and include all of the things we didn’t know to promise each other five years ago. Both at our wedding and at our vow renewal ceremony we wrote our own vows, but this time they were much lengthier, and reflected the six years we’ve been together and our shared hopes for our future. It was so sweet to see how many similarities we had between our vows this time. It was such a beautiful experience, and I’m so thankful to have someone in my life who loves me the way he does. I hope that we are able to set an example for others in a way neither of us had growing up, and to show how wonderful a relationship can be where both people put one another first.
After renewing our vows on the banks of the river near a gorgeous waterfall, standing amongst Scottish heather, we got into our swimsuits and went for a brisk swim in the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye in a magical place we’ve always dreamt of visiting. We floated on our backs hand in hand staring up at the foggy sky and the looming mountains, and eventually drifted back down the river after another hour of swimming and sitting on the rocks, excitedly discussing out future, and where we would be in the next five years.
Until next time!
See More by Annie Fairfax
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