The Isle of Skye is known for many things – its white sandy beaches and its infamous whisky distilleries being just two examples. But Fairy Glen is one of its lesser-known wonders.
Those who love nothing more than exploring wild, beautiful terrain rooted in mystical undertones will not want to miss out on the enchanting Fairy Glen in Scotland.
So, tune your ears to the sound of strong Scottish winds and fluttering fairy wings as we indulge you in everything you need to know about Fairy Glen Skye.
What is Fairy Glen?
Nestled snuggly on the Trotternish Peninsula, Fairy Glen is a rugged valley that is home to another of Skye’s infamous landmarks: Castle Ewan (which isn’t actually a castle. It’s a large rock formation that resembles castle ruins, but we’ll get to that later…).
Surrounding these ethereal landmarks are hills, meadows, and even a small grassy labyrinth, which, from an aerial view, look similar to a crop circle. Owing to the high elevation, this land is often shrouded in mist, which just adds to the atmospheric beauty of this other-worldly place.
As you might expect, this location has a magical, mystical element to it, like something out of – you guessed it – a fairytale! But Fairy Glen doesn’t just get its name from its fantastical aesthetic. Like many places in Scotland, its history nods to the country’s strong Gaelic folklore roots.
Fairy Glen Scotland: A Full Guide
So, now that we know what and where Fairy Glen is, let’s dive deeper into some of the other intriguing aspects that make it such a hidden gem.
For hikers and lovers of nature, Fairy Glen Skye is a must. Located near the small coastal town of Uig, Fairy Glen is easily accessible and completely free to visit, and as walking trails go, isn’t too strenuous. On the contrary, it makes a great afternoon for all ages, including children.
Fairy Glen Skye History
The word ‘glen’ is Gaelic for ‘narrow valley’ and rural Scottish locations are brimming with them. However, Fairy Glen is no ordinary glen.
Most glens are U-shaped, which isn’t the case with Fairy Glen. On the contrary, it has a unique shape to it which stems all the way back to the last Ice Age, some 100,000 years ago.
It’s many hills and peaks were formed after a series of landslides and glacial ice melts naturally shaped this part of the island into what we know it as today: Fairy Glen.
As we mentioned earlier, this magical location harkens to the country’s strong vein of folklore and faelore, and Fairy Glen is far from the only fairy-related area in Scotland. That being said, despite being such an ancient location, there’s a mysterious lack of documentation about its history.
This includes that of Castle Ewan.
There are no distinctive notes as to whether it was indeed a castle, if its stone shapings are purely coincidental in their likeness to palace ruins, or whether it gets its name from the Ewan Clan of Otter. In fact, the area as a whole is shrouded in mystery.
No one even knows why it’s called Fairy Glen. Is it because of Scotland’s vast and colourful history of all things fae and fantastical, or purely because of its aesthetics? Unfortunately, we’ll never know!
Either way, the covert nature of Fairy Glen’s elusive history just adds to the enigmatic appeal of the land.
Fairy Glen Skye Walk
As we touched upon earlier, Fairy Glen Skye is a great place for lovers of walking and hiking. Incidentally, it’s a great place for those who aren’t fanatical about walking or hiking but do want to see this magical place.
As for walking the terrain itself, it’s not too arduous and you won’t need elaborate hiking gear. That being said, Scotland’s unpredictable weather can make the ground somewhat boggy, so waterproof shoes are recommended. If the weather is looking warm and dry, appropriate footwear is still recommended – especially if you plan on climbing Castle Ewan!
For those who are serious about their walking endeavours, you can extend your trek beyond Fairy Glen and go further afield. The area is a miles-long expanse full of hills, trails, lochans, and meadows to enjoy.
Fairy Glen Skye Things to Do
Fairy Glen Skye is more than just a pretty place to marvel at. Here’s how to fully enjoy this magical location:
Climb Castle Ewan
Castle Ewan makes for some incredible photography and those with good mobility can absolutely climb these ruins to either get a cracking selfie or two, or just gape at the stunning scenery from this elevation.
Sometimes referred to by its alias, the Fairy Castle, Castle Ewan is made from Basalt rock, and is safe to climb – however, if it has been raining or misty, do be mindful of wet, slippery rock.
Explore the Glen
There is no shortage of things to admire while traipsing the emerald-green terrain of Fairy Glen.
You can ponder the incredible views, acquaint yourself with the rock formations, climb the hills to spot some of Skye’s famous waterfalls in the distance, and enjoy the company of the many Highland sheep dotted about the glen!
Make a Wish in the Labyrinth
So, although the fairy heritage is somewhat scarce in its documentation, one legend that still remains is the bringing of good luck upon following Fairy Glen’s labyrinth.
Old folklore tells of being able to “call on the Fae” to make a wish – but only if you follow the “rules” correctly. This means picking a blade of grass, entering the labyrinth, and following it clockwise.
Once you reach the centre of the labyrinth, you’re expected to lay the blade of grass down, make your wish, put your hand behind you back, and then walk backwards anti-clockwise out of the labyrinth (which is small, don’t worry!).
Walk Among the Rowan Trees
Another magical aspect of the Glen is that it is home to an abundance of Rowan trees.
Fun fact: in olden days, Rowan trees were said to protect against witchcraft and ‘evil eye’ energy, and legend has it that they also were an antidote against… wait for it… mischievous fairies.
So, although there’s no tangible history about Fairy Glen and the Fae, we’d wager its peppering of Rowan trees wasn’t entirely coincidental!
Fairy Glen Skye Parking
Good news – there is a car park near the Glen, making it even more accessible for visitors. This can be found at the beginning of the Trotternish Peninsula and is dedicated exclusively for Fairy Glen Visitors.
Some things to bear in mind:
- You can only use this car park for a maximum of 12 hours.
- This car park isn’t free. Payments can be made by cash (coins) or card. The fees are £2 for 2 hours and £3 for 4 hours.
- Despite the 12-hour rule, campervans and motorhomes aren’t permitted to use this parking area overnight. However, owing to Scotland’s relaxed laws on wild camping (including motorhomes), there are alternative parking spaces nearby.
- The car park is a 10-15-minute walk to Fairy Glen.
Places to Stay Near Fairy Glen Skye
If motorhoming it isn’t your thing, there are plenty of lovely hotels and B&Bs on the island. Please note that there isn’t any accommodation at or around Fairy Glen itself. The nearest town is Uig.
However, depending on where you wish to stay, some of the nearest accommodation options include:
Fairy Glen Skye Tours
Sometimes the best way to see everything you want to see (and more) is by indulging in a guided or private tour!
We’ve put together a list of some of the best tours that enable you to explore Fairy Glen.
- Portree: Best of Isle of Skye Full Day Tour
- From Edinburgh: 3-Day Isle of Skye & Highlands Private Tour
- Skye in a Day From Portree Visiting the Most Scenic Spots
- Private Bespoke Skye Tour
- Private Tour to Skye, Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, & Fairy Bridge
Fairy Glen Skye: FAQs
There are two waterfalls on the Isle of Skye, but not at the Glen itself. They can be located near the island’s infamous Fairy Pools – which shouldn’t be confused with Fairy Glen, as the two aren’t connected.
Isle of Skye’s Fairy Glen is 1.5 km/1 mile, and to fully circle it (including the ascent) takes around 1.45 minutes, depending on your level of fitness.
There is no shortage of much-loved hotspots on the Isle of Skye, and Fairy Glen is absolutely one of them. Be mindful though that it may be more populated by tourists during the summertime.
As we’ve discovered, there is little record of Fairy Glen folklore, aside from the labyrinth myth, leaving the magic of this breathtaking location up to individual discernment!
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