As photographers, we were lured to the Isle of Skye by images of rugged landscapes, windblown cliffs, and of course, highland cows. But somehow, the place we visited the most was Fairy Glen. It wasn’t as dramatic as some places we saw during our month on Skye, like Neist Point or the Old Man of Storr, but for our little family it had everything. Here’s a list of reasons why anyone traveling with children should visit Fairy Glen while they are in the area.
Fairy Glen is Convenient
If you are visiting the Isle of Skye, chances are you’ll be visiting Portree, the island’s biggest town. Fairy Glen is only twenty-five minutes away by car. The site is not clearly marked, but you’ll know you’re there when you see scenery out of a fantasy movie. Once you get to the foot of the hill, easily spotted by the adjacent pond, it’s just a short walk away. Odds are it will be muddy in the area, but we don’t hold it against Fairy Glen because everything on the Isle of Skye is muddy all the time. Once you get to the fairy circles it’s nice and grassy though.
Here are google maps directions from Portree to Fairy Glen (Google Maps). (If you search yourself, use “Castle Ewen” as your destination, it’s not really a castle though.)
Fairy Glen is Child and Toddler Friendly
If you’ve ever taken you kid to the Scottish Highlands, you know that you are always worried they will run off a cliff. Fairy Glen is conveniently nestled among the hills instead of perched on top of one. you can let the kids play around without worrying too much about gravity. And there is a lot for them to explore there too! There are sheep roaming freely among the cairns (piles of stones), and the cairns themselves are interesting too. Some of them had fallen over and Lisa had fun helping to stack them back up again. And of course there are the fairy circles, conveniently arranged by industrious fairies to amuse children and parents alike. Our family traveled there a number of times, and Lisa never got tired of running up and down the hills (supervised), running around the fairy circles, and even appreciating the scenery.
The lighting conditions at Fairy Glen were kind of challenging around sunset, but it’s nothing you can’t handle if you know how to control your camera. If you’d like to take creative control of your images, consider having a look at our e-book, Easy Manual Mode Photography.
Though the site may be child friendly, that it certainly isn’t stroller friendly. If your child is too small to walk more than a couple hundred feet, we’d recommend bringing a baby carrier. We happen to have a review of the Ergobaby Omni 360, the baby carrier we started using while we were in Scotland. Our resources page is packed with other reviews and recommendations for products and services we take advantage of while traveling with and photographing our daughter.
Fairy Glen is (Comparatively) Midge Free
Ok, so there’s really no such thing as midge-free in Scotland, but there were fewer of them here than we saw on Storr, at the Fairy Pools, at our own campsite, or any of the castles we visited. I can’t guarantee that it will always be the case, but we visited three times and didn’t get eaten. Maybe the breeze there blows just right, maybe we got lucky, or maybe fairies eat midges.
Fairy Glen Looks — Like a Fairy Tale
You don’t have to scale a mountain on Skye to get a gorgeous photo. Actually it’s hard to take a bad one. But between the fairy circles, the rolling grass covered hillsides and the towering stone called “Castle Ewen,” Fairy Glen is particularly rich with breathtaking compositions. As a side benefit, if you are there at sunset the sun comes down right between Castle Ewen and the hillside next to it, filling the valley with amazing golden light that filters through the cairns and illuminates the ground. We did two sunsets there and both times we were the only ones around. Why weren’t there other photographers there? It really is a hidden treasure!
Castle Ewen is the nickname of the pillar of stone that rises up on the edge of Fairy Glen. If you are approaching from the road, it is the most obvious landmark. It’s possible to walk right up to the top of Castle Ewen, but that is the one part of the glen that we wouldn’t recommend for children. If you aren’t afraid of heights, there is a pretty good view from up there.
Before you take your children to Fairy Glen or any other attraction on the Isle of Skye or Northern Scotland, be aware that the weather is unpredictable and can be harsh. You’re never guaranteed a dry day or a clear sunset. One of our favorite things about slow travel is that we have plenty of time to wait out the storms and go out on the beautiful days. We never miss a sight because of the weather. But even if you can’t stay put for a month while your travel, Skye, and it’s Fairy Glen should be on the list of any family that appreciates the outdoors and amazing scenery. That’s why the fairies like it!