A Storied Landscape
I’ve written a couple posts about the Isle of Skye in Scotland now, and I think it’s time for a disclaimer: You don’t go to the Isle of Skye to be entertained. You go there to be awed.
In other words: Just looking at stuff should be enough.
The Isle of Skye is sparsely populated. However, number of people on the island balloons in summer, when the weather is good for hiking. The mountains on the Isle of Skye are world-renowned for being home to some of the most difficult scrambling paths in the world. (Scrambling: difficult hiking that occasionally requires you to go on all fours so you don’t fall down the chasm of doom.)
If you look in any guidebook, all the major points of interest on the Isle of Skye are natural wonders. And if you actually go to the Isle of Skye and put your phone down for about three seconds and look around, you’ll see why.
One of my favorite things about the Isle of Skye is that the natural landscape is imbued with stories. Not only do they have beautiful landscapes that go on for miles, every single one has a story. And as befits a landscape that is as surreal as Skye’s, most of those stories have to do with the things beyond our ken. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at one of them.
An Educated People
Scotland is a land of well-educated people.
Since times immemorial, Scottish people have been on the whole better educated than their English counterparts. (Sorry, Limeys.) Some of the greatest Enlightenment thinkers – Adam Smith, David Hume, Francis Hutcheson – came from Scotland. A smattering of the greatest writers of all time – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson – came from Scotland. Several of the most prestigious universities in the world – the University of Edinburgh, St. Andrews University – are in Scotland.
If there’s one thing Scotland definitely has going for it – and always has had going for it, and probably will always have going for it – it’s the intellectual culture. Naturally, with all this intellectualism flung about, there’s one thing that unites all Scottish people together:
The Scots and the Fairies
The Sottish people and the fairies have a very special relationship. Some of the oldest stories in Scotland are about the fairies and encounters between them and humans. Belief in fairies has also served to explain the otherwise unexplainable.
Before proper healthcare, people believed that babies fell ill because fairies had stolen the human baby and left a fairy baby in its place. Because the fairy baby couldn’t live outside the fairy realm, it died. This explained why otherwise healthy babies died suddenly.
Fairies played active roles in resolving political and dynastic disputes. Even as recently as 2005, a housing development project was halted when the locals mobilized against builders who wanted to move the stone that the fairies lived under. When the matter went before the regional council, the council sided with the locals. The builders had to redesign their project so as not to disturb the fairies. No one wants to kill the fairies.
It makes sense, then, since the fairies are such an important part of Scottish life, that they’d have their own place to live. Their own kingdom, if you will.
Perhaps even a Glen.
The Fairy Glen
On the Isle of Skye, outside of the town of Uig (oo-ig), there’s a short and shallow valley with several impressive cone-shaped hills and rock formations, grandly dubbed the Fairy Glen. There’s everything a fairy kingdom would need there, including a pond with a shady tree and a castle fit for a fairy king.
The land formations in the Fairy Glen are so striking that the best explanation for them is, naturally, that the fairies did it.
If you visit, be prepared for an otherworldly experience. Fog settles low in the Fairy Glen, leaving it misty and shrouded most of the time. The grassy hills around sweep away, almost like an image fading out of a picture frame.
It truly does feel like you’ve slipped into the fairy realm.
Visiting the Fairy Glen:
Getting there: The best way to get to the Fairy Glen is to drive. Please be advised that there is no formal parking lot, so you’ll need to park on the road. Alternatively, there is a bus stop roughly 1.5km away, in front of the Uig Hotel. (Uig is the closest town, so that’s a good place to start!) For more information, click here.
Admission: There is no admission to the Fairy Glen.
Opening hours: There are no formal opening hours. However, it’s advisable to go during daylight hours.
Good to know:
- There is no formal parking lot. If you drive, please park considerately so as not to block the road!
- There are some pretty steep drops in the Fairy Glen. Wear appropriate footwear and watch your step.