The Fairy Pools walks is one of the most famous short walks on the Isle of Skye.
The crystal-clear waters, the waterfalls and the backdrop of the Cuillin Mountains create a wonderful landscape.
Below is my guide to help you plan your visit: map, tips, photos and a video!
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Why visit the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye?
The Fairy Pools Skye is one of the main walks on the island. It takes you along a series of natural pools with clear waters that communicate with waterfalls.
The rocks and colors are reflected making the water look emerald or turquoise.
Thanks to the Internet, and brilliant photographers, it has become a top thing to do on Skye island.
This is not one of mine but it will help you understand why people want to visit:
There was not much water when I visited (despite it being Spring) so I did not find it was one of the most beautiful places on the island, personally (especially with the high number of tourists). But I still enjoyed the walk!
Below is a short video to give you a feel for the walk at the Fairy Pools Skye - get a virtual tour!
Note: Fake fairy pools with purple trees
There are fake fairy pools photos circulating on the internet that are titled as being the Fairy Pools and have purple trees. See the fake shot here.
First, the location is the Shotover River in New Zealand.
Second, the trees have been turned purple with the magic of Photoshop.
This dream landscape cannot be seen!
More photos after the planning tips
Planning tips & Map - Fairy Pools Skye, Scotland
Where are the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye? How to get there? Map
- Located on the road to Glenbrittle in the center of the Isle of Skye
- There are no public transports going there (nearest bus stop in Uig and then a 30min walk)
- From Portree, take the direction of Carbost and before the town turn towards Glenbrittle. Lost in the many signs, is one indicating the fairy pools.
- Portree to Fairy Pools walk = 35 min drive
- Sligachan to Fairy Pools walk = 20 min drive
- Dunvegan to Fairy Pools walk = 40 min drive
- Note - it is nowhere near Glencoe. There are no fairy pools in Glencoe.
- Below is a map to help you locate the Fairy Pools:
This location, with its GPS coordinates is included on both my Travel Guide eBooks that help you plan your Scotland road trip:
Fairy Pools Carpark
- You cannot miss the beginning of the walk. Between the number of cars and the cleared area.
- The main carpark is small and costs 5£ -
- The main carpark is easy to access (photo below) and right across from the walk starting point
- There is another carpark higher on the road that is for free (but that means a longer walk)
Where to stay on the Isle of Skye?
- Portree is the main town and the most practical place to explore the island - Check out the best rated accommodations in Portree
- However the closest town to the Fairy Glen is Carbost - Check out the best rated accommodations in Carbost
- Find out more tips on my Isle of Skye article
The Fairy Pools Walk - Tips + Difficulty
Fairy Pools Trail
In the picture below you can see the track as observed from the road. It follows the river and then then climbs up near the pools and waterfalls.
This is the beginning of Glen Brittle, with the Cuillin Mountains in the background. And the pools have been created naturally by the Allt Coir' a Mhadaih River also known as River Brittle.
How difficult is the Fairy Pool walk?
The path goes downhill and then up, but it is well maintained and not difficult technically. Just remember that on the way back to the carpark you will have to climb the steep slope (not long though).
The main difficulty are the few river crossings on the track. Below you see it with very little water so it is easy to cross but be aware that the water levels can be way higher. Jumping between rocks will be required.
This is the view on the way back towards the parking. This is a return trip, no loop.
Planning your walk at the Fairy Pools
- How long does it take? - Plan 2 hours
- The beginning of the walk is very steep (going downhill) which means at the end of the walk it will be uphill
- No shade along the way, windy area
- The path is well maintained but can get muddy when wet. As you can see below there are some river crossings that can be difficult when water is high.
- No facilities
- The parking fills up quickly and you might have to park further away, adding to your hike
- How cold are the Fairy pools - quite cold, it is Scotland after all, around 8 to 12°C during the touristic season. The water is coming from the mountains!
Why are they called Fairy Pools - Legend or not?
It is easy to imagine how those beautiful landscapes of sparkling pools and waterfalls could be associated with a legend. However, according to her research, there is no Fairy Pools legend. Just a beautiful natural place that has triggered the imagination of many.
So, what is a fairy pool?
Just a great marketing name for a beautiful location with small natural pools filled with crystal-clear water surrounded by mountains. So, yes, a fairy-looking landscape.
The pools and crystal-clear turquoise water
As I said before the water level was low, but I still got a sense of the pools and their incredible colors.
The water is so clear that you can see every details of the rocks at the bottom.
As you see in the pictures below, depending on their orientation and size, the color of the water varies.
You can get off the track and get down to the water level of many of them.
Why are the Fairy Pools blue?
The colors depend on the angle, but generally the waters tends to look blue.
This is often the case when the water comes from mountains and glaciers.
It depends on small particles that are transported by the water and on the type of soil below.
How many pools are there? How were they formed?
Many. I have not counted.
The area is rocky. The river is stepping down many times, creating pools by erosion.
Some are really small while others (mostly at the top) are larger.
If you are interested in the geology of the area, check out this page.
Waterfalls along the way
The water gets from one pool to the other via waterfalls. Sadly, on the day I visited, the water level was low. But those falls between rock formations were still charming.
Below is a collection of them: some small, some taller, some crooked...
Fairy Pools swimming
The Fairy Pools, in the heart of the Isle of Skye, are a top spot to swim in Scotland. The clear waters are really tempting. However, be mindful that the island is windy and not tropical, so have good clothes to dry and warm up after.
The other drawback to swimming in the pools is that it is a very touristic spot with only one track. So, you will be on everyone's pictures. It has been very difficult for me to take pictures without anyone on them...
Your solution would be to hike early morning or in the evening to avoid the crowds.
Coire Na Creiche Hike
If you like hiking, you can keep going above the fairy pools and return via the forest path.
The whole hike would take 3 to 3.5 hours
Want to see more? Here are other amazing things to do on the Isle of Skye:
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