ISLE OF SKYE // FAIRY GLEN

ISLE OF SKYE // FAIRY GLEN

“In the Highlands, in the country places, Where the old plain men have rosy faces, And the young fair maidens Quiet eyes.” Robert Louis Stevenson

After what had been an emotional morning at The Old Man of Storr my mood had improved greatly, which might have been down to the grey cloud moving from what felt like directly above my head and revealing blue skies. That first afternoon Skye showed me why it attracts so many visitors each year, as I arrived at The Fairly Glen the sun had started to set, creating the most beautiful light over lush looking fields of the most vivid green grass. By now the bad mood I had been in during the morning had well and truly disappeared leaving me to soak up all of the magical atmosphere of The Fairy Glen.

The Fairy Glen is one of the Isle of Skye’s most enchanting attractions. The bumpy, off-the-beaten-path spot stands out from the surrounding farmland. The natural rock formations, cone-shaped hills dotted with ponds and scattered waterfalls, are all within one small area, making it seem as though it’s the shrunken version of a large-scale geological wonder.

Though there’s no definitive folklore linking the land to the magical realm, some say faeries created the dramatic landscape and still dwell within its many crevices. It’s no wonder; the whimsical otherworldly landscape looks just like the kind of place you’d expect to find mythical creatures. The Isle of Skye is, after all, rich with faerie lore. However, the unique geological formations are actually the result of a landslip, similar to the one that created the nearby Quiraing. 

It’s easy to spend to lose track of time while wandering among the cluster of hills, however you won’t need more than a morning or afternoon exploring this little gem. The grassy glen’s natural colors are beautiful all year round, as I was told from the owner of the hostel that it rains all year round creating a beautiful green landscape. Take you time climbing the mounds or snapping photos of the stone designs others tend to create (though they’re not nearly as impressive as the more permanent rock spiral). The best view point is from the top of Castle Ewan, the natural rock formation that resembles an ancient ruin. A steep, narrow trail leads directly to the top, but it does involve a bit of scrambling and not ideal to squeeze through with a back pack on, that’s from personal experience, if it wasn’t the back pack it was hips getting stuck.

The locals consider the stone designs created by visitors to be vandalism and spend the winter undoing them each year. Since the glens are on private property, it’s appropriate to respect the wishes of the locals on this matter and refrain from building with the rocks. Also changing the landscape ruins the experience for others.

The stone circle is impressive and although there is no legend surrounding it I didn’t want to step on it either. You don’t have to see magic to know it exists. Somehow I convinced myself by standing on it I would kill or at the very least curse a fairy so I walked around it (at least 6 foot away, just in case) and admired it from afar.

For me visiting in December was perfect as tourists and crowds make me uncomfortable and I’m pretty sure I would have gone crazy if I saw someone walk over it. One of the things about the Isle of Skye is that you literally don’t have to walk more than 5 mins on a trail before seeing what the trail is famous for, meaning that people that wouldn’t normally hike/walk get to the bit they want to photograph quickly and simply point and shoot before heading back to the car and moving on to the next attraction. On a positive note it also means that once you have past the first five minutes you pretty much have the trail to yourself. In fact from my whole week I only saw 3 people further along the paths.

I also forgot to mention that this was actually Christmas Day, watching the sunset over the magical mounds was the perfect way to end a pretty wonderful if not a rollercoaster of emotions kinda day! The Fairy Glen was only a five minute drive from the hostel I was staying in and more than a walkable distance which if visiting in the summer would be the better option as parking is limited.

Note that there are no signs for the Fairy Glen. If you’re heading North on the A87 (coming from Portree), turn right on the road right just before the Uig Hotel. It’s about a five minute drive along a narrow, winding path to the glen, which is visible from the road. Park on the grass, but be careful not to block any traffic.

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