The spectacular Fairy Pools walk is one of the best hikes on the Isle of Skye. Find out everything you need to know about visiting this magical place.
On the morning of Monday, August 15th, I got in a wee red bus in Portree and left for the Fairy Pools.
A wonderful-ish experience lay ahead.
The “wonderful” part is a result of the fact that the Fairy Pools are one of the most beautiful places on Isle of Skye. Think crystal clear pools with sky-capped mountains in the background.
The “ish” part comes from the fact that I lost my favourite gold bracelet (a dear gift from my husband), shattered my iPhone in pieces and jammed my finger in the tripod, all in one day.
Despite the fairy mischief, it’s one of the most popular places in Skye and you should definitely visit. You’ll see the most spectacular views! Here’s my step-by-step guide with top tips to the Skye’s Fairy Pools.
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🥾 The Fairy Pools walk
The Fairy Pools walk is a 2.5 km long hike with crystal clear blue pools, an underwater arch and vibrant waterfalls around every corner. It’s an easy hike, and it takes 2-2.5 hours to walk from the car park to the Fairy Pools and back.
The parking lot is the starting point. Ignore the early fork to the left, and further on cross the bridge. From then on, you simply follow the trail to the end and then go back.
The gravel path is bordered with grass, heather and rocks leads up to the largest waterfall. You can walk further up the path and explore some of the smaller pools.
Fairy POOLS Walk
🧝♀️ What are the Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools are a series of rock pools, cascades and waterfalls at the foot of the Black Cuillin mountains. With the right light, you can see the crystal clear aqua and teal coloured water.
How the Fairy Pools got their name
🐺 The Gaelic name for Fairy Pools is Allt Coir’ a’ ‘Mhadaidh, and it translates roughly to “burn of the wolf”.
There’s no fact about the Fairy Pools that I enjoy more than the name.
Who knows why or how they got it for sure, but I prefer to imagine it’s the home of fairies who are obsessed with bracelets, and anyone who ever laughed at them about it would promptly get a finger stuck in their camera equipment.
Local legend has it that the Fairy Pools got their name because a local Clan MacLeod chief once married a fairy princess. Their love did not please the fairy king, who forced his daughter back to the fairy realm.
She had to leave behind her only son in the mortal world, so she filled the Fairy Pools with tears of sorrow.
Legends of the Fairy Pools
Other legends reveal that these mystical pools attracted selkies – mythological creatures from Celtic and Norse mythology that disguise as large seals during the day and transform into human form at night when they come ashore to bathe in the light of the moon.
🧝♀️ Locals say that if you hold your head under the freezing water for seven seconds, you’ll be blessed with the gift of eternal youth.
I kid you not, but I saw more than three hopeful tourists, heads deep under water. I wouldn’t be surprised to find locals nearby, laughing their Scottish arses off.
History of the Fairy Pools
The Fairy Pools was the location of the bloody Battle of Coire na Creiche in 1601. The feud was between the MacLeods of Dunvegan and the MacDonalds of Sleat who had been at each other’s throat for years.
The MacDonalds won the battle, but legend tells that so many were killed that the Fairy Pools ran red with blood.
The Scottish Crown was so horrified by the battle that it intervened and forced a truce between the two clans. It was the last clan battle on the Isle of Skye.
How to get to the Fairy Pools of Skye
It’s easiest to visit Fairy Pools by car, but you can also visit on a tour.
The tour I took is no longer available, but this 3-day tour with Viator follows the same itinerary.
The Fairy Pools are located in Glenbrittle, which is a 30 minute drive from Portree. To get there, drive in the direction of Carbost and the Talisker Distillery.
Just before reaching Carbost, turn left onto a single track road, following the signs to the Fairy Pools. You will find a large car park just at the foot of the trailhead.
Parking at the Faerie Pools Scotland
The Fairy Pools car park holds over 130 cars and fills up fast, which is a good reason to visit early or late in the day.
It costs 6£ for parking.
Fairy Pools Isle of Skye entrance fee and opening times
- The Fairy Pools are open 24 hours daily so you can plan your visit anytime.
- Entry is free – you just have to pay for parking!
When to visit Faerie Pools Isle of Skye
The best time to visit the Fairy Pools is in the morning (between 7-9 am.) or late in the day (5-7 pm.).
You’ll best experience the magic of the Fairy Pools during the summer months from May – October. In the winter months there are fewer visitors.
Where to stay nearby
The Fairy Pools are located in Glen Brittle, which is remote. There’s a camp site nearby, but I recommend staying in Portree. It’s the largest town on Isle of Skye.
Portree Garden Room (⭐️ 9.2) is located in Portree in a great, central location. It’s a small, standalone apartment with a private garden.
Fairy POOLS Walk
What to bring
These are the things to pack for a trip to the Fairy Pools in the summer (although you should always prepare for bad weather no matter the season):
- A rain jacket & lightweight puffer jacket: A must in Scotland
- Sturdy shoes to kept your feet dry and make sure you don’t slip
- Midge repellent! Midgets cause misery across the Scottish highlands between May and September. You can use Smidge spray or cover up.
- Coins to pay for parking
- Lip balm to protect your lips from the wind
- A daypack: see my post about the best travel daypacks
Useful tips and info
There are restrooms
Unlike the Fairy Glen, there are restrooms here. They’re located in the main car park by the trailhead.
You can help protect these beautiful pools by leaving no trace. Please take your litter with you.
Get there early or late
People tend to come from around 9 am, and the last tour busses leave around 5 pm. Try to be here before 9 or after 5.
There are more trails nearby
If you’re up for a bit of hiking in the area, you’ve got several trails you can follow. These are the best Fairy Pools hikes:
- Sligachan and Fairy Pools circular (18 km, moderate hike)
- Fairy Pools circular walk (7.4 km, moderate hike)
- Coire Na Creiche (7.6 km, moderate hike)
Wear good walking shoes
Even though it’s an easy walk and you’ll be walking on gravel, it can still get muddy. You’ll want to wear sturdy hiking shoes or hiking boots because it’s more comfortable and you’ll have a better grip.
💸 Scotland travel insurance
I highly recommend having travel insurance because let’s be real — the last thing you want on your trip is for accidents to get in the way.
I recommend Safety Wing — they offer affordable prices, great coverage, and a reliable 24/7 on-call service.
How long is the walk to the Fairy Pools?
Walking to the Fairy Pools takes approximately 2 hours if you start from the Glen Brittle car park. It’s a 2.5 km walk and is considered easy.
Along the route, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Cuillin Hills, and a series of waterfalls. Once at the top, you will reach a beautiful blue-green pool with a great view.
Are the Fairy Pools worth it?
Yes, absolutely! It’s one of the best places to visit on the Isle of Skye.
Can you go swimming in the Fairy Pools?
Well, yeah, you can swim in the Fairy Pools, but the water is ice-cold. The water comes straight from the Black Cuillins so it’s FREEZING. Even in the summer.
If you’re up for wild swimming, you might want to wear a wetsuit (and remember to bring a towel).
What is Fairy Pools in Gaelic?
The Gaelic name for Fairy Pools is Allt Coir’ a’ ‘Mhadaidh, and it translates roughly to “burn of the wolf”.
What is the legend of the Fairy Pools Scotland?
The legend of the Fairy Pools Scotland dates back to a time when a local Clan MacLeod chief married a fairy princess. This union is said to have given rise to many place names on the Isle of Skye.
It’s further said that the mystical beauty of the Fairy Pools attracts selkies from other realms.
Why is the Fairy Pools called the Fairy Pools?
According to legend, a Clan MacLeod Chief married a fairy princess, but she was forced back to the fairy realm by the Fairy King.
Doing so, she had to leave her only son behind and her tears filled the Allt Coir a ‘Mhadaidh, which became known as the Fairy Pools.
Can I drink the water from the Fairy Pools?
Yes, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. People swim in these pools. And dogs. That’s all I have to say.
Where to next?
Want more tips on the beautiful Isle of Skye? Check out my related posts below.
Isle of Skye itinerary
Discover the best things to do on Isle of Skye, including the Old Man of Storr and the Talisker distillery.
The Fairy Glen
Find out how to explore the magical Fairy Glen on Isle of Skye.
Where to stay on Isle of Skye
Explore the best places to stay and find the perfect accommodation.
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