1 - Fairy Pools
At foot of the Black Cuillins near Glenbrittle are the Fairy Pools, beautifully crystal clear blue pools on the River Brittle.
These famous pools entice visitors from all over the world, as they make some great ‘Wild Swimming’ for those brave enough to enter the cold water. For the less adventurous these magical Fairy Pools make some fantastic photos.
The walk to the pools uses the same route there and back. The complete return distance to the first main waterfall and pool is 2.4km, with the average time to complete the walk being 40 minutes (with no stops). Most people will spend some time working their way up the river from the first waterfall exploring the different pools.
We have classed this walk as ‘Short’ in length and ‘Medium’ for difficulty, check the rating guide for details.
The nearest village to the Fairy Pools is Carbost on the West of Skye, the start of the walk is on the road to Glenbrittle.
This walk is suitable in most normal weather conditions, but if it has been raining hard some on the river crossings can become a real challenge.
Park in the Forestry Commision gravel carpark signposted ‘Glumagan Na Sithichean’ (below in smaller writing it does also say Fairy Pools).
It is located along the single track road that leads to Glenbrittle from Carbost. The carpark is 5.5miles (10 minute drive) from Carbost. If traveling from Portree it is 20.5miles and will take about 30 minutes to drive.
From the carpark there are impressive views out towards the Black Cuillins, the source of the River Brittle. This short walk to the pools follows a gravel path that is in good condition most of the way, but does involve river crossings over stepping stones. It takes about 20 minutes to get the first and largest waterfall that marks the start of the pools.
Make sure your look through the Walk SlideShow, as it give a step by step account of what you will encounter.
From the carpark cross the public road to find the start of the path. There is a small green sign confirming the start, labelled ‘Sligaghan’.
As the path leaves the road it is steep and rough, don’t be put off by this as the first few meters are about the worst.
The gravel path drops gently downhill. On a wet day can be muddy in places.
After about 50 meters from the road the path splits, take the right hand option and continue down the hill.
After a short while you will reach the first river crossing where there are large stepping stone to cross.
This crossing is typical of the other crossing ahead.
Once across follow the gravel path.
The path is now level and crosses a peat moor with Heather and Grasses.
Ahead you will see impressive large rock boulder that seem almost random location, but was left as the ice melted are the end of the last ‘ice age’.
The path gently raises and meets up with the main River Brittle. Which will now remain on your right hand side as the walk continues.
There are regular small crossing a steams and ditched, but nothing challenging.
You will now reach the second river crossing and again there are large stepping stone. This river can get very full on a wet day making a difficult crossing.
After the river the path rises up with some rough rock natural steps.
The first Waterfall will now come in to view.
Follow the gravel path on until you become adjacent to the fall.
The Fairy Pools
This first Waterfall marks the start of the magical pools. Take some time to work your way up the river and explore all the pools. Some of the pools make great swimming, but rarely get warm (a wetsuit is a good option).
This first waterfall is the highest fall and deepest pool. For the brave only there are some great high jumps. On the other side of the river from the path it is possible to jump into deep blue pool (approximately 10 meters high).
Follow the main path up beside the river to find more pools.
The next pool up is properly the most famous, a beautifully clear blue pool idea for swimming. It features a natural arch, offering an exhilarating under water swim though the arch.
There many small pools as you work your way up the river.
The return; use the same path back. From the first waterfall it takes about 20 minutes to get back to the carpark.