Location: Skye Map: OS Landranger 32 Distance: 5 miles (8km) Time: 2-3 hours Grade: Moderate moorland walk NO visit to the Isle of Skye is complete without a visit to the Fairy Pools and a wander into Coire na Creiche. At this time of the year the main peaks of the Cuillin are probably still encased in snow and ice so if you want a more leisurely stroll, with the feeling that the big hills are only an arm’s length away, then try this route. The nearest village to the Fairy Pools is Carbost in the west of Skye and the start of the walk is from a Forest Enterprise car park on the road to Glen Brittle.
We arrived on a lovely day when we were hopeful that winter was at last easing its way into spring. The high tops of the nearby Cuillin were still snowbound but today it was the series of sparkling, crystal-clear pools which form part of the Allt Coire a’Mhadaidh that took our attention.
This stream falls down from the high corrie, gathering a number of lesser tributaries before tumbling over a series of rocky shelves and ledges to form a magnificent series of gushing waterfalls and deep translucent green pools – ideal for skinny-dipping, but not today. It was far too cold for baring all.
We spent a good bit of time wandering from pool to pool, admiring the contrast between the red rock and green water and photographing some of the magnificent ornamentation that had been formed by ice.
Beyond the top pool we were tempted to just return the way we had come but ahead of us, drawing us higher, was a magnificent array of Cuillin peaks clustered around the head of Coire na Creiche – Sgurr Thuilm, Sgurr a’ Mhadaidh, Bidein Druim nan Ramh and Bruach na Frithe.
The footpath continued beyond the pools so we just followed it, climbing higher into the corrie before meeting another path that veered north towards the Bealach a’ Mhaim. I knew from past visits that a good path ran through the bealach and descended moorland back to the Glen Brittle road.
These two footpaths turned a lovely exploration of the Fairy Pools into a terrific half-day exploration of this corner of the Cuillin. The hills behind became more impressive as we walked away from them and the descent back to the car park gave great views across to Macleod’s Tables and down into Glen Brittle itself.
Route: Start and finish at the Forest Enterprise car park, Glen Brittle (GR: NG424258). From the car park cross the road and follow the path down to the stream. Continue in an E direction following the line of the stream and soon, the pools and waterfalls. As the path climbs higher it becomes rougher but follow it beyond the last of the pools until you reach a stony slope. Look out for another path running N and follow it all the way to the Bealach a’ Mhaim. Once you reach the path that runs through the bealach from Sligachan, turn left on to it and follow it downhill, past some forestry, all the way back to the start.
The walk to the Fairy Pools brings you close to the Cuillin without risking the dangers associated with climbing them in colder months