As the Skye Fairy Pools have become yet another must-see on tourists’ Scottish itineraries, there are growing fears that their fragile ecological beauty could be overwhelmed.
Steps have now been taken to protect the pools from the legions of tourists who visit them and facilities have been badly upgraded, allowing up to 180,000 people to make the excursion each year without harming the ecosystem.
Scottish environmental organization Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) and the Skye Iconic Sites Project have worked together to create a new car park, improve pathways and restore the site’s most prominent vantage points.
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Two new steel and timber clad bridges were flown in and laid over the burn sites that feed and flow from the ponds. In addition, the site has undergone extensive habitat rehabilitation to repair the damaged footpaths.
The Fairy Pools are one of three sites on the island to benefit from SISP’s habitat restoration. Work is also being carried out at the popular Quiraing and Old Man of Storr sites.
The pools have been flooded in recent years
Dougie Baird, CEO of Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland, said: “While the Fairy Pools remain on people’s wish lists, visitor numbers are doubling with thousands of visitors every year.
“We all know that Skye’s exquisite setting is what makes the island so popular. To ensure this, we must value and preserve the island’s natural habitat as much as possible.
“Through the project, we were able to provide safer and more viable options for visitors to the pools. We urge hikers to stay on these trails so that the area can thrive again and future generations can enjoy the magic of the Fairy Pools.”
SISP, planned and managed by OATS, is part of a nearly £9 million Scottish projects program to invest in the Highlands and Islands to offer visitors more and better quality opportunities to enjoy natural and cultural assets.
The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is managed by NatureScot and funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Support was also received from the Minginish Community Hall Association and Paths for All, as well as the Postcode Local Trust.
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Dawn Campbell, Minginish Community Hall Association Project Manager, said: “The Minginish Community Hall Association is delighted to be involved in this important project which has enhanced the Fairy Pools experience for all visitors and most importantly protected this special environment for many years .” .”
Kirsten Makins, Project Manager for NatureScot’s Natural & Cultural Heritage Fund, added: “The completion of work to improve access, interpretation and infrastructure at Skye’s Fairy Pools is warmly welcomed.
“These improvements, which include impressive habitat restoration work, will ensure that another Skye landmark can offer a high-quality and sustainable visitor experience.”