Few places capture the rugged, untapped magic of Scotland’s landscape like the Isle of Skye. With deep green pastures running along karst rock and sapphire pools of water, the small northern island looks like something off the cover of a fantasy novel. With such a fantastical landscape, it’s understandable that the Isle is renowned for legends of fairies and mythical beasts.
Fairy Glen is a mystical landscape characterised by sloping hills and an enchanting valley. At its heart lies a small pool that’s said to attract fairies from the area and, overlooking the glen, stands a natural rock formation known as Castle Ewan. Whether or not there are actually fairies within the glen, it’s a beautiful and magical place that you’re sure to remember forever.
If you are planning to trip to Scotland and the Inner Hebrides, you can’t miss the Fairy Glen. Take a moment to read everything you should know about this enchanted landscape and start preparing for your next adventure.
Fairy Glen at First Glance
The Fairy Glen is a small, circular valley located on the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. The Glen is known for its unusual rock formations, which are said to have been created by fairies. The area is also home to a small pool, which is said to be a gathering place for fairies during the warmer months.
This is more of a general legend, though, as no true myth can be linked to the Glen itself. Although many Skylanders fear fairies and believe that they are attracted to water, the landscape is simply called Fairy Glen to acknowledge the strange beauty of the small valley and its surrounding terrain.
Regardless of any myths, though, there’s no denying the magic of this beautiful landscape. Thanks to almost-constant cloud coverage over the Isle of Skye, Fairy Glen is covered in a deep, rich pasture of green grass and characterized by strange outcrops of basalt rock. Its circular shape draws you in and acts as a natural valley amongst the surrounding hills.
At the top of the surrounding hills, you’ll also find Castle Ewan—not a real castle but a solid square block of basalt that closely resembles a Highland fortress. This outcrop gives insight into how the Glen was formed, signifying that there was once a landslide that drove the terrain downward and into a miniature valley.
How to Visit the Isle of Skye?
The Isle of Skye is the largest island positioned off the northwestern coast of Scotland, part of a chain of islands known as the Inner Hebrides. A bridge connects the Isle to the mainland, making it easy to access, no matter what time of year.
There are also several buses that transport visitors from the mainland to Portree—the Isle’s capital and largest city. Alternatively, if you’re looking for adventure, you can take a ferry to the Isle from Mallaig to Armadale. There are never more than two ferries a day, though, so be sure to plan accordingly.
Once you arrive on the Isle, you have a range of options for lodging. In the warmer months, Portree tends to fill up with tourists and you may wish to stay elsewhere. However, in winter, we highly recommend staying in Portree for both convenience and comfort. There are high-end lodges as well as affordable hostels to fit any budget.
How to Visit Fairy Glen?
Although the Isle of Skye is a relatively small island off the northwest coast of Scotland, it’s actually the largest of the Inner Hebrides, measuring roughly 50 miles across and home to several large villages. Therefore, the easiest launching point to reach Fairy Glen is from Uig, a small port town on the north end of the Isle.
From Uig, you can technically trek to the Glen although there are options to drive or take a shuttle bus directly to the site. Be warned, though, parking at the Glen is fairly limited and may fill up quickly. We recommend either taking the shuttle or trekking to experience the full beauty of the location.
The walk follows the road, making it an easy trek on steady ground, and should take around 30 minutes at a normal pace. There’s only one road leading away from Uig as well, so it’s hard to miss the route. Follow the road for roughly a mile and a half until you reach a small pond with a sign demarcating the upcoming glen.
Stop your vehicle or continue walking up the path behind the parking lot and towards Fairy Glen. The path will slowly become steeper before dipping back down into the Glen. Once there, you’ll see Castle Ewan and be able to soak in the mystical feeling of the surrounding terrain.
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How Long is the Walk Up to the Glen?
For most people, it’ll take about 30 minutes to reach the parking lot from Uig at a normal walking pace. Once you’ve reached the parking lot, it’s then another 10 minutes up into Fairy Glen. This section of the walk is a little harder, though, as you’ll have to climb over some slowly inclining hills while walking on unpaved ground.
It’s hard to miss the glen, though, as there’s only one path from the parking lot. It winds through the stunning Isle of Skye landscape and, if it’s been particularly rainy lately, you may even spot small waterfalls trickling down from the karst rocky outcrops.
Overall, we would rate the difficulty of the trek at a 3 out of 10. The hardest part is the distance so, if you are out of shape or have any knee or hip injuries, take your time and you’ll get there eventually. Alternatively, you can always take the shuttle bus or drive to the site.
How to Prepare for Your Trip?
No matter what time of year you’re visiting the Isle of Skye, be prepared for fickle forecasts. Don’t forget that the island is quite far north and surrounded by the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Therefore, dress appropriately. We recommend bringing the following clothing to stay warm during your trip:
- A rain jacket and galoshes – On the Isle of Skye, it rains about 223 days a year so be prepared to get wet. You’ll be trekking through the glen as well so be aware that you may get muddy.
- Trousers – It’s generally advisable to wear long-legged trousers while trekking to keep your legs protected from mud and grit.
- Layers – If you visit during the summer, it can get quite warm, especially on days when the sun peaks through the clouds. Bring both t-shirts and longer sleeves to prepare for sudden shifts in temperature.
- Sunscreen – They say that overcast days are the worst for getting a sunburn and there isn’t much tree coverage on the Isle of Skye. We recommend bringing some sunscreen to protect your skin from UV rays.
Along with the appropriate clothing, there are a few other items you’ll need. First and foremost, a camera! Fairy Glen is a beautiful and enchanting landscape that you’ll want to capture for posterity. Additionally, you may want to bring a torch or a headlamp if you’re planning to venture out later in the day. As a far northern territory, the sun sets early on autumn and winter days.
What Should You Leave at Fairy Glen?
Most importantly, be sure to bring back everything you took with you. Fairy Glen and the Isle of Skye are prized for their pristine and beautiful natural landscapes. Leaving behind litter would ruin the trip for everyone else.
Additionally, there are signs throughout the area asking visitors to not build stone stacks. Although they may look pretty on camera, they can actually harm local wildlife and upset the natural environment. Simply leave the site as you found it and return back to Uig once you’re satisfied with the experience.
What Else Can You See in the Area?
The Isle of Skye—particularly the northern section of the island—is home to many wonders, both natural and man-made. While you’re near Fairy Glen and Uig, we recommend checking out a few other spots before heading back to the mainland.
The Old Man of Storr
You’re bound to pass through Portree at some point during your trip to the Isle. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Old Man of Storr. Much like Fairy Glen, this natural rocky outcrop was formed by a strong landslide roughly 1,000 years ago, creating a fearsome jut of basalt that resembles an old man’s face.
The Old Man of Storr can be found roughly halfway between Uig and Portree, making it a wonderful stop off on your way back down through the Isle. We recommend driving to this feature, as it’s a bit far from either town. It’s also a bit more of a trek than the fairy glen so use caution if you are out of shape or have any pre-existing injuries.
The Aurora Borealis
If you’re lucky, you may spot the aurora borealis while visiting the Isle of Skye. Given its northern location and lack of light pollution, it’s often considered one of the best spots in the British Isles for viewing the Northern Lights. We recommend visiting in winter to increase your chances, as the lights are more visible at that time.
Many locals recommend visiting Glendale to see the lights, where you can also visit local fairy pools. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a full light show but, with some patience and luck, you may spot the mysterious and magical shimmer of green and purple dancing across the sky.
Final Thoughts on Fairy Glen and the Isle of Skye
Although the landscape is said to be home to many mythical creatures, the true magic of Fairy Glen lies in its natural beauty. With its deep green pastures and mystical stone outcrops, the Glen is sure to take your breath away.
When planning your trip, be sure to research the best time of year to visit, as well as what to pack to ensure a comfortable experience. And, although it may be tempting, be sure to resist the urge to build cairns or stone stacks, as this can damage the local environment.
Finally, take some time to explore the rest of the Isle of Skye. With its many natural wonders, you won’t be disappointed. From the Old Man of Storr to the Glendale fairy pools, there’s much to explore on this small Scottish island.
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