Climbing ashore from the ferry into the delightful harbour of Armadale on the Isle of Skye you can immediately see why this island has been voted one of the best in the world. Quaint colourful shops dotted sparingly around the waters edge, tiny fishing boats bobbing around in rhythm with the tide. The calmness of the winding road and low-lying greenery leaving Armadale is a gentle introduction to the “Misty Isle”. The further you drive the more dramatic and surreal your surroundings become. The high, sheer cliff edges, barren but breathtaking landscapes and crazy and bizarre mountain formations are surreal and other-worldly.
In this fairy-tale setting it’s easy to believe in the mystical fairies that have been rumoured to be roaming the hills and glens of Skye for centuries.
While you’re visiting Skye be sure to look out for these mysterious creatures. Be warned though, they don’t like to be hunted. Be nice, and you just never know…
Just south of Uig on the A87, by the Uig Hotel, there is a small road. There are no signposts so keep your eyes peeled. Drive along it and you will know you have found the fairies home when you reach it. This is where the fairies play, amongst the miniature hills, twisting trees and little nooks and crannies. It’s like it’s been lifted straight out the pages of a fairytale book. The fairies are rumoured to live in beehive structures buried deep underneath the purple heather.
The Old Man of Storr
Set amongst the majestic rocky cliffs a giant from Trotternish is buried with his thumb sticking out. That’s one explanation for the irregular shaped rock standing tall on the horizon as you drive towards the north of the island.
Another is of two giants, a man and his wife, fleeing up the hill from an attacker, turned around to look back and were turned to stone. .
My favourite is of another of Scottish folklores most intruiging characters – The Brownie. These little creatures are said to resemble cheeky goblins. Said to hide in their masters house until they are asleep, they complete chores and do housework before disappearing again before the sunrise. The story goes that one little brownie was so upset when his master died he climbed the hills and carved to rocks, one of his master and one of his wife.
One of the most popular things to do on the Isle of Skye is hike the Quiraing. A magical array of cliffs, landslips, peaks and plateaus this bizarre and Jurassic area is said to be where the fairies meet, and also where the dragons who protect the island live. It has three main features – The Table, The Needle and The Prison
The Fairy Knoll
A few minutes walk from the centre of Broadford is a beautiful but fairly unaccessable grassy knoll covered in wild flowers which is known to the locals as fairy party central! One famous tale relating to the Knoll involves a gentleman named Iain Og MacCrimmon. Practising his piping for a competition one day a fairy woman overheard and gifted him a silver chanter along with a poem. She taught him to play and he went on to win the competition and his family became the hereditary pipers to the MacLeods of Skye. Apparently if you listen carefully, sometimes you can still here the piper playing as you pass the knoll!
The Fairy Flag
The “Bradauch Shi” (The Fairy Flag) is thought to have been given to the MacLeods by Titania, the “Ben Shi”, the wife of Oberon, King of the Fairies. The silk flag, coloured yellow and brown with red “Elf dots” is 18 inches square and is now kept in Dunvegan Castle. Thought to have special powers it was given to a Macleod chief at the Fairy Bridge.
The Fairy Bridge
Three miles south of Dunvegan Castle the Fairy Bridge is where the fairy wife handed the Clan chief the flag, promising that is times of danger and distress he could unfurl the flag three times to save himself. Some of it’s powers are thought to include the ability to multiply a clans army, cure plague in cattle and save lives of the clans people.
The Fairy Pools
What a finale to your trip these Fairy Pools are. These magical pools can be accessed from a car park in Glen Brittle and a lovely 40 minute walk takes you to the first set of pools. If this is where the fairies play i’m very jealous. The stunning waterfalls and turquoise blue crystal clear pools are the perfect place for a dip. The more adventurous can even take a leap from the cliffs above. Pack a picnic, relax and soak up the atmosphere of this famous beauty spot.
I visited the Isle of Skye as part of the first ever “Isleathon”. Myself and the rest of the Scotlanders visited 15 islands on total and partnered with Calmac Ferries, promoting the islands over social media. To find out more about the islands of Scotland you can visit the Calmac website.
I covered all the areas above in 48 hours. I drove from Armadale up the east coast to Kilt Rock, The Old Man of Storr, drove around the Quiraing to Uig where I visited the Fairy Glens. I spent the night in Kyleakin. The next morning I drove to Broadford to see the Fairy Knoll before heading west to Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Bridge. I ended my weekend with a stroll around the Fairy Pools.
Have you visited Skye? What was your favourite part?