Featured photo: Thistle in the Faerie Glen

The Isle of Skye, with its sweeping, dramatic views, is peppered with hidden corners of delicate beauty.  Many of these places, whether reflecting the actual beliefs of locals or just fancifcully named for tourists, carry the word "faerie" (or fairy) in the title.  There are the Faerie Pools, the Faeries' Bathhouse, and the Faerie Bridge, to name a few.

Some of these places – the Faerie Bridge, for example – would not likely stand out to the casual visitor.  Others, however, are so unique and distinct that one would be hard pressed not to believe in the fair folk.  The Faerie Glen is one such place.


Must come back in spring...

A thistle in – forgive me – "sharp" focus.


This little glen near Uig Bay appears to have a distinct geology.  There are many pointed knolls, a small pond, and several bits of interesting rock formations poking through the green.  Unlike the surrounding hillsides, the area is mostly free of broom and gorse.  Delicate grasses and moss are common, giving the appearance of a bright emerald carpet.  There are rowan trees, said to possess many magical properties, along the edges of the road.

As you may have guessed from my rather more factual and less silly than usual description, I was quite taken with the place (ok, it's also first thing in the morning as I write this – still waking up).  I'd love to go back and photograph some more.  More daringly, I would like to get permission to camp there overnight during a warmer season.  Who knows what sorts of mischief one might get about?

The rock formation that makes up the backdrop of this photo is known as the Faerie King's Castle.  A very small part of me did think of Close Encounters when I saw it, but was quickly shushed by the other parts of me that were looking around in wide-eyed delight.  The castle is reachable by a winding, picturesque path around the back.  Some creative contortions are necessary to get to the top, but it's worth it, if only for the chance to say you've done so.

As you may or may not know, the thistle is the national symbol of Scotland.  It goes back to a battle where Viking invaders, in a plan to ambush a sleeping band of Scotsman, foolishly attempted to sneak through a field full of the prickly things.  The noise and their cries of pain gave them away, and the Scots were able to prepare for and victoriously counter the attack.  The thistle has been venerated ever since.

In an extract from The Answer, to the Guidwife of Wauchope-House, Robert Burns demonstrates this love of an unlikely flower:

The rough burr-thistle, spreading wide,
Amang the bearded bear,
I turn'd the weeder-clips aside,
An' spar'd the symbol dear.
No nation, no station,
My envy e'er could raise:
A Scot still, but blot still,
I knew no higher praise.


I'm still in Scotland as I write this.  Alas, no longer in the Highlands, but this and many other photos are drawing me back.  My heart is still there, in any case.  I suspect the rest of me will be back soon.


What magic are you discovering?


Thank you, once more, to Rabbie's Trailburners for arranging this wonderful tour.

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  1. Ian Greenfield says:

    I went on your site because of your narroowboat experience, and saw you’d been tot eh faerie glen at Uig. I was there last week and agree its an amazing place. We stayed inthe youth hostel which has great views over the bay. Sara, the warden had just coem back from a volunteer work prrty trip to St Kilda and was great entertainment. Now thats a place you should get to Katrina. Its a sad story. Read the |Life and Death of St Kilda by Tom Steel first

  2. Loved this piece from the start, but you really got me with the Burns poem. Lucky you to be in magical Scotland!

    1. Aww, thanks, Cathy! Have you been to Scotland? I’ve got to go back – and spend a LOT more time in the Highlands!

  3. Questa foto è molto bella.

    1. Grazie, Manuela. I’m glad you like it. :)

  4. Loving the photo and the pun here, tee hee hee! Although I don’t know why I’m imagining a group of people doing some kind of RPG roleplay dressed up as faeries and the like frolicking around the area? Or a kind of Game of Thrones-esque scene…don’t worry, no beheading.

    1. Funny you should mention Game of Thrones. The day before we’d stopped at Doune Castle. It was not officially on the list, but geezo, it’s a Monty Python legend, so how could we not? I made a special request and it was honored (Rabbie’s is good like that).


      But more to the point, apparently Doune Castle was also used for some GoT scenes, as well. I haven’t seen it so cannot swear to it, but there ya go! Oh, and the town near Doune hosts an annual Monty Python gathering. Lots of cross-dressing lumberjacks in attendance, according to our driver.

      Honestly, though, the Faerie Glen is so beautiful I wish it was protected somehow. It’s just so lovely!

  5. I can almost see the fairies in that photo. It’s so magically beautiful!

    1. Oh, it was, Ana! Highly recommend a trip to Skye. Going during the off season can be a bit chancy with the weather, but the lack of crowds more than made up for it. We also happened to get some lovely, clear days. :)

  6. Been there :-)

    1. Have you? How marvelous! Did you take any photos? Would love to see them. :)

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