Official Sightseeing
Tours of Scotland since 1907

The Cuillin Hills and Fairy Pools

Skye the island and its legends

The Isle of Skye is the largest and northernmost island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. It is famous for its stunning scenery, rich history, and diverse wildlife.

For a magical adventure with legends that go back centuries, visiting the Isle of Skye here in Scotland must be on the cards. Today, we explore Skye the island and its legends with a sprinkle of fairy dust to guide us on our way! 

Fairy Pools in Skye 

The Fairy Pools at Sunset

For such a beautiful setting, the history associated with the Fairy Pools is altogether more shocking and bloodier. A battle between two Scottish clans, the MacLeods and the MacDonalds, broke out at this spot, now known as the “Battle of Coire na Creic/Coire na Creiche” in 1601.

The MacDonalds reputedly won this ferocious clan battle, and the Fairy Pools were said to have turned red due to the bloodshed. To avoid anything like this ever happening again, the Scottish Crown stepped in and called a truce – and it looks to have worked, as the waters remain bright and blue to this very day. 

A variation of the story includes the “Wars of the One-Eyed Woman”, although this version also reports that the MacDonalds came out victorious and no more battles occurred from there on in. 

Where are the Fairy pools in Skye 

Woman sitting overlooking the Fairy Pools

You’ll find the Fairy pools near the village of Carbost in Glenbrittle on the Isle of Skye. A short 2.4 km walk from the nearest car park will bring you to the Fairy Pools.

The first thing you’ll likely notice is the crystal-clear waters in front of majestic mountains – a picturesque Scottish scene showcasing nature at its finest. However, it’s what you don’t see that’s genuinely fascinating… 

For those readers who count swimming as a hobby, the Fairy Pools is a known spot for wild swimming – just don’t forget to bring a warm change of clothing, as those waters can be cold! 

And as for the rest of us, immersing yourself in the tales of the Fairy Pools and taking some picturesque photos will have to suffice! 

Best time to visit Fairy Pools Isle of Skye 

A trip to the Isle of Skye isn’t complete without a visit to the Fairy Pools – magical in name and by nature. So sit back, relax and prepare to enter a mystical and enchanted world known to many as Skye. 

We don’t think there is ever a wrong time to visit Skye, but the months often cited as being those where the weather is likely to be better are May through to August, with early autumn also getting a mention. 

Just remember, though – there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices!

How to get to the Fairy Pools Skye 

Glamaig, Isle of Skye

Why not sit back and relax as an expert driver/guide takes you from Inverness to visit the Isle of Skye and experience the Fairy Pools for yourself. You can choose from a one-day tour or the more leisurely two-day Isle of Skye, Fairy Pools and Highland Castles tour.

Whichever tour you choose, you’ll benefit from our experienced tour guides taking you to the island and pointing out all the landmarks you won’t want to miss along the way! 

If you don’t have access to a car, reaching the Fairy Pools by public transport can be challenging. It’s probably best to research hiring a taxi for the journey.

Fairy Flag Skye 

Of course, as is often the case with Scottish history, there is more than one legend linked to the Fairy pools. We’ve got two words for you – Fairy Flag. 

Fairy Flag on display at Dunvegan Castle

The Fairy Flag is linked to several legends – some more magical and fantastical than others. We will explore two, one where we continue the legend of the clans, the other which is rooted in a bit more “science”. 

The Legend of Clan MacLeod and the Fairies 

This legend states that a Clan MacLeod Chief was set to marry a fairy, and they stayed together for one year and one day before the fairy had to return to her world. They said their goodbyes at the aptly named Fairy Bridge, and the Fairy Flag was given with the instruction that the Chief could use the magic of the flag in times of need. 

War Time

Dame Flora MacLeod

As a result, the MacLeod Clan were the recipients of good luck and fortune when they went to battle. Interestingly, the power of the Fairy Flag is thought to remain to this very day, with a fire at Dunvegan Castle in 1939 said to have subsided thanks to this mysterious banner. The Fairy Flag even has links to the Second World War, with pilots using the flag for protection and Dame Flora, the Clan Chief, suggesting it could be used to ward off the Germans. 

It’s worth noting that all fairy versions of this legend are documented slightly differently (not surprisingly!), so you may read/hear a variation of this story on your travels.

The Fairy Flag of Dunvegan  

Dunvegan Castle

The alternative and more “sensible” (read: not as exciting) theory of what the Fairy Flag is/how it came to be comes from Dunvegan Castle.

This tells the tale of a silk banner, also known as The Fairy Flag, belonging to Clan MacLeod, thought to have magical powers and impart victory on the clan when they found themselves in battle. 

Although how this Fairy Flag came into existence is unknown, one suggestion from an expert from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London states that Harald Hardrada, a Norseman and Chief MacLeod ancestor, brought this flag to the UK during the 11th century. 

Isle of Skye Fairies 

There has always been a connection between Skye and fairies – you only need to look at some of the surrounding area names to see what we mean. The Fairy Bridge, The Fairy Glen and The Quiraing are just three to get you started.         

Fairy Circle Skye

Fairy Glen  

Although not an official title (the Fairy Circle), there are several locations in Skye that all have links to fairies – for a truly magical experience that is out of this world (perhaps literally!), a trip to The Quiraing and The Fairy Glen is strongly advised alongside a visit to the mystical rock formations of Kilt Rock and the Old Man of Storr. 

From the King of the Fairies, to the Fairy Flag to the Scottish fairy terminology (Seelies/Unseelies), a trip to Scotland may have you feeling like you’ve stepped straight into the pages of a fairytale. 

Exploring the Isle of Skye with Scottish Tours

If visiting this beautiful island features in your travel plans, let Scottish Tours be your guide. We offer guided tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and London.

Browse available tours and book online today.

Image credits: Shutterstock, VisitScotland, Wikipedia/Dutch National Archives and MacLeod Estates