The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most iconic and beautiful places, with its dramatic landscapes and awe-inspiring vistas. One of the island’s must-see attractions is the famous Fairy Pools, a series of cascading waterfalls that lead to deep blue pools in the River Brittle. If you’re planning a trip to the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools, here are 10 tips (plus one bonus from Sal!) for making the most out of your visit to this stunning natural wonder.
The Fairy Pools are located in Glenbrittle, Scotland on the Isle of Skye IV47 8TA. It is about a 35-minute drive to the Fairy Pools from Portree. Isle of Skye Fairy Pools are a series of crystal-clear blue pools and waterfalls on the River Brittle or the Allt Coir’ a’ Mhadaidh near the Cuillin Mountains. This beautiful site is free to visit and open year-round. Visitors to the site can hike or take a dip in the pools. For the most up-to-date information, visit this website.
Our visit to the Fairy Pools
Sal and I visited the Fairy Pools on a Monday in July. Despite our best efforts to get up early and be among the first visitors to the Fairy Pools, we were tired from hiking both the Quiraing Walk and Old Man of Storr walks the day before. Yes, we did both in one day and it was exhausting!
After a late start, we arrived at the Fairy Pools at 11am. Unfortunately, we only had two hours to spend at the Fairy Pools because we had to drive back to Edinburgh to catch a plane later that day. We walked fast and reached the first pool in 26 minutes.
Determined to take in as much of the Fairy Pools as possible, Sal and I split up tackling the trail according to our preferences. I hiked at a slower pace taking in as much of the scenery (and photos) as possible. Sal, eager to escape the crowds, headed as far up the trail as possible. Despite the time constraints, we had a lovely time visiting the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools.
I visited the Fairy Pools with Sal on our road trip to the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Highlands. Unfortunately, Buddy did not visit the Isle of Skye during his choir’s trip to Scotland. But he did do a Scottish Highlands tour from Edinburgh to Glencoe and Loch Ness. He took a Loch Ness cruise and got to see the famous highland cows! Buddy’s tour is below in case you are interested. Then he his choir traveled south to perform in venues in England and Wales. So, this post will not share a teenager’s perspective about the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools.
I think Buddy would have liked visiting the Fairy Pools. He would have enjoyed the hike and probably would have waded into the pools to experience the cold water.
10 Tips for Visiting the Famous Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
1. Be prepared to pay for parking
The Fairy Pool Car Park is located at Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye IV47 8TA, United Kingdom.
Although visiting the Fairy Pools is free, unfortunately, parking is not free. Bring cash to pay the parking attendant quickly and easily.
When we visited, parking cost £5 and instead of paying a parking meter, we paid a parking attendant. For more the most up-to-date information about parking, including prices, visit the website.
Even though we arrived later than planned, we found a parking spot without a hassle. Nonetheless, I recommend arriving early to guarantee your spot.
2. There are facilities
Like the Old Man of Storr Walk, and unlike the Quiraing Walk, there are facilities-woo hoo!
Restrooms are located in the parking lot by the trailhead. And they are really nice facilities. Although the Fairy Pools are open 24 hours, the nearby restrooms are not, so plan accordingly. The hours are posted on site.
3. Be careful crossing the road
To access the Fairy Pools trail head from the car park, you will have to cross a road. This road is typically filled with fellow travelers driving towards the Fairy Pools. Be cautious when crossing and give yourself plenty of time to cross safely.
4. The Fairy Pools trail is dog friendly
Dog owners rejoice! The trail to the Fairy Pools is dog friendly. So, pack your pup and head out on a hiking adventure that you will both enjoy! Just make sure your pup is always kept on a leash.
In general, the Isle of Skye is dog friendly. There are many cafes, bars, and restaurants that welcome dogs on a leash. If you are a dog owner, both the Fairy Pools and the Isle of Skye is a great place to visit with your pet.
During our trip to the Fairy Pools, we saw many cute and friendly dogs on the trail. Given that we visited from overseas, we did not bring our pet with us. Also, our pet is a cat and as such, does not hike trails with us (yet!).
5. Yes, you can swim in the Fairy Pools!
Visitors can, and do, wear their swimsuits and wade into the Fairy Pools. The depth and size of the pools vary. And they are relatively small compared to a lake or ocean, so it is more like wading in some places. If you do decide to swim, be prepared for cold water. Even in the summer months, the Fairy Pools can be cold. And remember to bring a towel and sunscreen with you.
The day we visited, a handful of fellow travelers swam in the chilly waters of the Fairy Pools, including families with young kids and a few dogs. Swimmers wore everything from swimsuits to wet suits. If cold water isn’t your thing, perhaps just taking in the views is the way to go.
The Fairy Pools did look truly refreshing. And given that it was humid and surprisingly warm at the Fairy Pools, I wish we had time to swim. On his solo hike, Sal took a moment to take off his shoes and dip his toes in the cool water. He said the water was chilly at first, but it was also nice and invigorating. I, however, did not make time to take of my shoes and dip in my toes.
But if you get a chance, take off your shoes and dip your toes into the cool and refreshing water!
6. More than the Fairy Pools
Although the Fairy Pools are the main attraction, there are a series of trails that make up the Glenn Brittle Trails that traverse the Glenn Brittle Forest. There is the Bealach Trail Loop, a 9.5-mile hike and the nearby Eynort Trail, a 6-mile loop trail that passes by Loch Eynort. With other trail to see and areas to explore, you can easily spend a full day in the area.
Before visiting the Fairy Pools, we were unaware of the additional hikes in the area since so much of the information that we read online prior to our trip focused on the Fairy Pools. We would have loved to hike the Eynort Trail, and Sal was halfway through the Bealach Trail Loop when we turned around and doubled back to our car. I wish we would have had more time to explore these trails. Maybe next time!
7. Prepare for crowds
Due to its popularity, there are often large crowds at the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools, especially during high season. The Fairy Pools can get crowded so go early or late in the day, if possible, to avoid the crowds on the trail. And if taking photos of this amazing scenery without lots of other visitors in the background are important to you, get there very early.
The Fairy Pools was the most crowded of the three hikes that we did at the Isle of Skye. Granted, we did visit in July during high season. Visiting in the Spring or Fall might mean less tourists.
8. Wear your hiking boots
Although the Fairy Pool trail is a gravel path, you will want to wear a sturdy hiking shoe or hiking boot for your trek to the fairy pools. This is because you will be crossing little streams and very muddy areas. It is even more muddy if you visit during the rain. You will also be navigating loose rocks on inclines.
Make sure you wear appropriate footwear that’s comfortable for walking through rough terrain like hiking boots or shoes with good grip! You’ll need it when navigating rocky paths alongside rivers and across slippery rocks around waterfalls!
The day we visited Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools, we saw hikers in flip flops and even someone in high heels! These visitors struggled on the trail and did not get far. So, ditch the fancy shoes and lace up your hiking boots!
On all the trails I hiked in Scotland, I wore these Columbia Hiking Shoes because they are high top and waterproof hiking boots. The only thing about these boots is that they do not have great arch support. For that reason, I purchased some insoles.
9. What to bring to the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
In addition to your hiking boots, when hiking the Fairy Pools, you will want to bring
- Cash to pay for parking
- A full water bottle
- Lip balm to protect your lips from the wind
- An offline map, especially if you choose to hike the full Bealach Trail Loop as the trail markers in Scotland left much to be desired.
- A day pack. This one is my favorite.
- Bug spray About bug spray. When I was planning for the trip, I read that bug spray was recommended for this hike, so I brought some that was carry-on friendly. However, we didn’t need it on this hike. I did not see any bugs or get bit at all. Sal said he saw some gnats following him, but he did not get bit either. But take some anyway because it is better to be safe than sorry!
10. What to wear to the Isle of Skye Fairy Pools
As the weather can change very quickly on the Isle of Skye, you want to dress in layers. Also, and waterproof and wind proof jackets, waterproof pants, and waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support are a must for this hike.
We found this hike to be warmer, but no less windy, than the other hikes we did on the Isle of Skye. But not knowing what to expect, Sal and I wore layers. I was grateful that we did because I some areas of the hike were cold and windy and others were warm and humid.
Hiking the Fairy Pools, I wore this lined Columbia rain jacket which protected me very well from the chilly wind. Underneath I had another cozy North Face jacket, which went on top of a long sleeve yoga top from Stitch Fix, and a tank top and sports bra. On the bottom, I wore yoga pants from Stitch Fix with REI Co-op rain pants layered on top. Luckily, it didn’t rain on this hike, but I would have been well protected if it did!
Buddy and I have post dedicated to what to pack for a trip to Scotland, which you can find here!
Sal’s Bonus Tip
In a rare guest appearance, Sal is stepping in for Buddy and sharing his bonus tip for visiting the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools. Take it away Sal!
I recommend dipping your toes in the water. Also, I recommend hiking further down to the place where the mountains meet. It is beautiful and there are less people. So, if you want some solitude in the green with the breeze blowing the grass all around you, hiking further up the trail is for you.
The Fairy Pools at Isle of Skye definitely live up to their magical reputation. They are gorgeous! Like something straight out of a fairytale. We would visit again. And not only that, but I would also plan on spending more time in the area taking the full loop hike with Sal (and Buddy!) and perhaps hiking the Eynort Trail. Because we were pressed for time, we did not film a Movement Postcard on this hike. Maybe next time!
Whether you’re visiting by yourself or with family, following these easy tips will ensure that everybody has an amazing adventure at one of Scotland’s iconic destinations created by nature herself. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your next trip now and go explore the fantastical Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools!
Have you visited the Fairy Pools? If so, what are your recommendations. Let us know in the comments below!
Do you have questions about family travel or traveling with teens? Feel free to reach out! We are happy to chat and share our experiences! We look forward to connecting with you.
If you enjoyed reading this, check out these blog posts!
- Exploring the Isle of Skye in One Day: The Ultimate Guide
- Quiraing Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Old Man of Storr Walk: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- Brother’s Point: Hiking Scotland’s Beautiful Isle of Skye
- 4 Tips for Visiting the Beautiful Calton Hill
- 6 Interesting Things To Do If You Only Have 24 Hours in Edinburgh
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