On the edge of a shallow glacial valley in a glen near Uig, there is a geological wonder. A series of landslides and the action of ice have produced a small area of conical hillocks and pinnacles known as The Fairy Glen. It’s a fantastic miniature landscape of grassy knolls, stunted, twisted rowan and hazel trees, along with a rushing stream and a still pool. A wonderful magical place and the home of the fae.
I think Mr Stoatie thought I was a bit mad when I insisted we went to see. I could only describe it, from the pictures I’d seen, as ‘a bit hobbity.’ It wasn’t on any map, and we had do a bit of detective work to find it, but I think the beauty and the atmosphere of the place won him over when we got there. The highest point is called Castle Ewen, I got halfway up the narrow path to the top when the drops to each side brought on a bout of vertigo and I decided to retreat!
There was a wonderful feel to the place and I really enjoyed wandering around all the hillocks and valleys. I discovered a rather nice spot by the stream which would have been a perfect place to journey if I hadn’t been saddled with the dogs. Whilst we we there I heard a distinctive ‘kew kew’ call and looking up spotted a sea eagle, yay!
I’ve since found out that The Fairy Glen was used as a location for a fantasy film called Stardust, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and a whole host of stars. I shall have to try and find it.
We decided that this house was definitely the one we would like if we were going to live on the Island. Such a perfect location!
The view down into Uig. The CalMac ferry to and from the Outer Isles – Harris and Lewis – docks here. Hopefully we’ll get to experience that journey on another trip. We sat and had a coffee while we watched the ship come in, it docked prow first and unloaded the cars before reversing out, turning round and loading the next lot through the stern.
While I’m talking of the Good Folk, here is another location on Skye that they’re to be found …
At the start of the road into the Waternish peninsula, at a place called Beul-Ath nan Allt (the ford of the three burns), is a bridge known locally as The Fairy Bridge. Apparently this is where the fairy wife of the Chief of MacLeod’s left him to return to her own people. She left their son wrapped in a silken shawl which, as the Fairy Flag, could be used three times to save the Clan when it was in trouble.
This flag is on display in Dunvegan Castle and is a rather faded and patched piece of yellow silk. In 1799, Norman MacLeod described it as “a piece of very rich silk, with crosses wrought on it with gold thread, and several elf spots stitched with great care on different parts of it.” I couldn’t make out crosses or spots myself, maybe they have disappeared with time. Certainly it’s very fragile now. Analysis revealed that it was made from silk from the Middle East, and it has been dated between the 4th and 7th centuries AD. One theory is that it was brought over by Vikings. It’s still very important to the Clan as a symbol of good luck and MacLeods serving in the RAF during World War Two used to fly with postcards of it for luck.
The Bridge was renowned for spooking horses and held quite a fear for local travellers. There have been three murders on the spot, and these and the Fairy associations probably heightened the tension. In the 1840s large prayer meetings were held here during the revival and this was said to have sanctified the area.
Mr Stoatie stayed in the van with the dogs while I had a walk round. The bridge is stuck by itself in the middle of the landscape and is bypassed by the modern road. It must have been a very lonely eerie place in the past. I quite liked it though!