The fairy pools of Skye

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“There was a drought in Skye recently,” said Donald Nicolson. “It didn’t rain for 6 hours.”

Donald and his wife Claire run Skye Scenic Tours and we were in Donald’s van for their popular one-day tour (30 GBP as of September 2015) around Skye. Aside from my sister and me, there were two sisters from Canada who’d recently finished their Masters in Glasgow; a recently wed couple — the guy Irish, the girl American — who had just settled in Ireland; plus the latter’s mom and cousin who’d come from the US to visit the newlyweds and took in a tour of Scotland along the way. Donald picked us up first — the Canadian sisters were also staying at the Portree Independent Hostel — and then we drove down to the Harbour where the others were staying. Donald cheerfully ushered the family of four into the van, introduced us, then said to the Americans in a mock whisper, “You won’t believe what they’ve been saying about Americans.” The four of us laughed — we’d done nothing of the sort, of course — but the cousin good-naturedly said, “Oh, we’re not too proud of ourselves at the moment too.” (We didn’t ask why.)

The skies were gloomy by the time all eight of us were in the van and it was forecast to rain later in the day. Skye Scenic Tours has both a dry-weather itinerary and a wet-weather itinerary — so the tour never gets canceled no matter the weather, explained Claire — and one of the major differences is that the Fairy Pools is only part of the dry weather tour. Once we’d all settled in, Donald turned to us and said, “Okay, what is the one place that you absolutely must see?”

We all hesitated for a moment, looked at each other, and then as if by pre-arrangement we all answered, “The fairy pools?”

I was afraid Donald would remind us that it was going to be a wet day and that we’d have to follow the wet-weather itinerary but he merely grinned and said, “Then we better go there first.”

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I don’t know if our Fairy Pools experience would have been different if we’d gone there on a sunny day. I think back on the landscape now and I suppose…if it had been a sunny day, I would have thought the Fairy Pools would be a nice place for a picnic, with its grass and flowers and trickling streams. If one had a horse, it would be a nice place for a trot, and a gallop every now and then.

But it wasn’t a sunny day — the drizzle that had begun even before we reached the area turned into bigger, faster drops as we descended into the valley. And in the rain and the mist and the bracing cold, the Fairy Pools was more than a nice place. It was a place where adventures could happen — could even be happening right then, as we skipped across stones, past gold and purple blooms, and walked upstream in search of the pools. Who knows who would come down to meet us from those mountains covered in cloud? Who knows what sight awaited us as we ascended those rocky steps? All those stories of warriors and brave ladies and people with the Sight — for some reason, they all seemed to come more alive in the rain.

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If we didn’t have many more places to visit that day, it would have been nice to linger at the Fairy Pools: to walk, and feel, and imagine.

But reality beckoned.

The Fairy Pools of Skye | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

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