If you are willing to brave the cold of the Fairy Pools, pack your swimsuits. You will also need to wear some sturdy shoes for the 30-40 minute walk to the pools from the car park.
Good to know
Scotland is a place of harsh weather. It is often cold and wet. The ferry at Glenelg will only take cash so make sure you have some on hand for this.
Recommended time of the year
The summer months would be the best time to go, as it is mostly outdoors and the Glenelg Ferry only runs from Easter to October.
If you plan on crossing with your car on the Glenelg Ferry more than once, buy a six-journey ticket book for £40. A single return journey for a car is £25. Alternatively, you can drive across the Skye Bridge for free.
About This Day
This busy day in the Scottish Highlands involves a fair amount of driving but it is very much worth it. Start by visiting the 2,000-year-old Glenelg Brochs, where the experience of walking through these Iron Age dwellings is quite surreal. Continue to the Skye Ferry (the oldest one of its kind in Scotland), then refuel with wood-fired pizza at Cafe Siaway. Finally, brace yourself for the real gem of the day: the beautiful cascading falls of the Fairy Pools. If you’re game, take a refreshing dip in its cold waters.
These Brochs, which are almost 2,000 years old, remain reasonably intact. You can actually walk through them, observe their various levels and completely imagine yourself living in them. We especially loved them as they were off-the-beaten track and not “touristy.”
DIRECTIONS From the Shiel Bridge continue along Old Military Road until passing through Glenelg. The Brochs are located south of Glenelg and are well signposted. Parking is on the side of the road.
TIP Be sure to visit both Brochs. They are located on the same road within 200m of each other. The Brochs are great for exploring but just keep an eye on your kids as they are very tempting to climb!
Glenelg Ferry is the last manually operated “turntable ferry” in Scotland and has been operating since 1934. This is the narrowest crossing point to the Isle of Skye. It took little time, but the kids especially enjoyed seeing it work - as well as the two border collies that are always on the ferry.
DIRECTIONS From Glenelg Brochs, head back through the small town of Glenelg and turn left at the first intersection after Glenelg. Follow this road until it leads down to the water where you’ll see the Ferry crossing.
TIP When you reach the Ferry, you will have to wait for it to arrive up to 20 minutes, depending on what stage of the crossing it is up to. Just pull over to the side of the road and form a queue of cars. You stay in the car during the crossing.
From the car park it’s about a 1.5-kilometer (nearly a mile) walk to the Fairy Pools. The pools themselves are a number of cascading waterfalls with the mountains creating a wonderful backdrop. Continue along the walking track to explore all the waterfalls and the swimming holes. One of the pools has a short tunnel underwater, connecting it with another pool. There are a number of places to swim if you are brave enough. We found a great little splash pool for the kids to play in.
DIRECTIONS The Fairy Pools are about a 40-minute drive from Cafe Sia. Continue along the A87 until reaching Sligachan where you will take the A863. Follow this road for 10 minutes and look out for the B8009. Five minutes later, turn left an unmarked road which will lead to the carpark for the Fairy Pools.
TIP It can get very busy. Be prepared for the carpark to be full - you will likely need to park on the side of the road. There is little to no shade on the track or at the pools so be prepared for this.