The spellbinding Scenery of Skye
The Isle of Skye has a name capable of stimulating thoughts of an enchanted kingdom or ethereal setting from a fantasy novel; and although the Isle is in fact situated in the Inner Hebrides – off the West coast of mainland Scotland – its somewhat familiar locality is in fact one imbued with breath-taking sights and seemingly mystical natural features.
With undulating Rocky Mountains slopes and the famed ‘fairy pools’, the Isle of Skye is an under-appreciated pocket of the unknown found in the back garden of Great Britain.
The Isle has been occupied since the Mesolithic period and has been ruled both by Norse settlers and Gaelic clans. The clan system, however, was met with decline when a series of Jacobite uprisings uprooted the inhabitants and replaced the setting with agriculture. In this act, resident numbers decreased from over 20,000 to just over 9,000, resulting in an increased feeling of remoteness and mystery in the aloof but poetic island.
With a name like ‘fairy pools’, you’d be forgiven for expecting something like a gimmick at a children’s birthday party or an over-hyped scam that attempts to exploit people into believing there are actual fairies present, and like ‘Nessie’, have managed to elude the tourist’s eye on every day of visiting.
With a suspension of disbelief (and a sprinkle of pixie dust) however, it’s easy to envision sea nymphs making their home in the stunning networks of cascading waterfalls, clear blue pools and pillars of steam, threaded together with cliff-faces, growths of marsh grass and verdant bracken.
As you descend deeper into the glen, the beauty and otherworldliness of the pools only intensifies, culminating in display that truly lives up to the magical atmosphere implies by its name.
Additionally, these pools aren’t simply for looking; rather, their majesty is one regularly capable of seducing visitors into bathing and swimming in the vivid blue and crystal clear waters.
Inspiring for children with active imaginations and for those seeking to be enthralled in the breath-taking escapism potential of the glen, the Fairy Pools of the Isle of Skye serve as a perfect retreat for those looking to tear themselves away from the stresses of reality by means of something more akin to a spell-binding fantasy.
Adding to the sense of magic brought about by fairy pools is another location with pixie namesake in the Isle of Skye. Not only are geological formations spectacular in the Faerie Glen, as vivid green mounds narrate your journey through the landscape but children too, will undoubtedly fall in love with the fairy-tale setting of this glen. Guarding the bottom of a winding track path is the fairy stronghold, a rock formation known as Castle Ewen that sits observing nearby limestone hillocks and grassy knolls. According to local legend, small pixie circles populate Faerie Glen, and if someone with a pure heart makes a wish whilst leaving a shiny coin behind, their wish is guaranteed to reach fruition.
With a wealth of scenery and an atmosphere built on wonderment, Faerie Glen feels like it has been pulled straight out of a Tolkien novel, providing escapism for the abundant imagination, for the child and ‘inner child’ alike.
To further one’s mystical pilgrimage through the Isle of Skye, a trip to the Quiraing is a necessity. As a landslip on the northernmost summit of the Isle of Skye’s Trottenish Ridge, the Quiraing has formed what is colloquially known as ‘the needle’ – a colossus 120-foot jagged spire resembling a naturally-formed tower which cleaves the immersive panoramic views that are acquired upon traversing the Quiraing.
Views – which are in fact considered the pinacle of all views in the arresting Isle of Skye – can only truly be experienced by visitors themselves. To counter the ascending vertical lines of the needle is another natural formation known by local slang as ‘the table’.
The table is an elevated flat plateau of green land laden with vignettes of differing ecological scenes of Scottish wildlife and landscapes.
The table was in fact so neatly nestled amongst the rocky pillars that it has a history in which the Gaelic inhabitants successfully managed to hide their cattle here from Viking invaders.
A further colloquialism is the eerily entitled ‘prison’, named so not for its link to crime but because the pyramidal rocky peak is said to resemble a medieval keep amidst what would be the fortified city of the Quiraing’s other natural formation. This ‘oubliette’ however, is not one you will be likely to forget anytime soon, as the prison acts as a backdrop to a bounty of natural views and hiking spaces that make the area ubiquitously favoured as a sight of interest.
Claigan Coral Beach
In contrast to the high peaks of the Quiraing and the jewel greens of the Faery Glens, is the Claigan Coral Beach. In fact not made of coral at all, the sand is formulated from pieces of crushed seashells and desiccated algae that have been worn down through centuries of exposure to the moody Atlantic. However, the Claigan still ‘holds its own’ in providing outstanding natural beauty.
Nestled discreetly between two grassy hills and looking back to Dunvegan Loch and Castle, the Claigan Coral Beach radiates romance and isolation while providing a quiet retreat for any couple to indulge in after their fairy-themed excursions with the children.
What makes the Claigan Coral Beach all the more charming, both for couples and whole families, is the welcome from the local wildlife that you’ll receive during your visit – both seals and cattle frequent the beaches and are often met by circling Sea Eagles and Golden Eagles above.
Whether it is to satiate one’s demand for adventure, or to quell the stresses of working life, the Isle of Skye offers a holiday destination that is both rich in sights and soothing for the soul.
Expansive panoramas of the Isle meet views of the Atlantic and serve to pull you away from reality in a family retreat that is enriching and rejuvenating. The Isle of Skye is full of fantasy, having provided inspiration for countless novels, films, poems and paintings in time gone by.