THE FAIRY POOLS on the Isle of Skye in Scotland lure visitors from all over the world. Set at the foot of the Black Cuillin, fed by the River Brittle, the pools are a series of clear blue freshwater ponds, surrounded by granite crags and fed by healthy waterfalls. Some of the pools are grand for swimming, but the water is freezing year-round, and a wetsuit is a good option.

The Isle of Skye is full of Highland tales and Celtic folklore—the fairy pools definitely look as though they could be a gathering place for magical creatures from stories gone by.

How to get there

The Fairy Pools are on the Isle of Skye, on Scotland’s west coast. The nearest village is Carbost—about 5.5 miles away—and the start of the trail is on the road to Glenbrittle. Park in the Forestry Commision gravel lot. Look for the sign: Glumagan Na Sithichean (below it also says Fairy Pools).  It’s a short walk to reach them, just 20 minutes from the carpark to the first waterfall.

What to consider

  • The trail is an out and back and will take about 40 minutes (if you don’t go upriver to explore the pools).
  • The largest waterfall and deepest pool are the first ones you’ll come to.
  • The gravel path is in good condition, but you will have to cross rivers via stepping stones.
  • It’s worth it to work your way up the river and explore all the pools.
  • Some of the pools are perfect for swimming—the second pool from the bottom is the most famous, with a natural arch you can swim through.
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