After recently discovering the TV series Outlander(mild spoiler alert), I have been absolutely obsessed with the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland (more on this to come in future posts). This is one of the best TV series I have watched after only watching 9 episodes, it is full of everything I love; romance, action, Scottish scenery, good-looking men, history and best of all Scottish folklore. Around the time this was set (1743 AD) there was an array of myths, legends and folklore that influenced the daily lives of Scottish people. Fairies are one of the mythical creatures that Scottish people have believed in for centuries, and during one of the episodes of Outlander, the description and nature of the Fairies are not at all like what you heard in childhood stories and films.
During a camping trip to the Isle of Skye, we thought it wise to visit the infamous Fairy Pools. It was the height of summer, one of the warmest days of the year in 2018. Not knowing much about what the Fairy Pools were, we gazed upon a long winding path at the bottom of the Cuillin mountains unsure about what we were going to find at the top. Little did we know, we were about to embark on one of the most magical walks we could’ve imagined, despite the swarm of ambushing clegs in the grass.
During season 1 of Outlander, Fairies are referred to in episode 10 where a gruesome part of the folklore surrounding these mythical creatures is explained thoroughly. A crying baby is found in the wild by the lead character, Claire, and her friend explains that she should not intervene. Extremely ill or “deformed” babies are intentionally placed in a location for a length of time and fairies will “steal” the child and leave a fairy child – commonly known as a changeling – in it’s place. It was thought in the 18th century that methods such as this would cure sick children and thankfully in modern life we know the opposite to be true. Not unlike the descriptions of fairies in modern childhood tales, these creatures were portrayed as being mysterious, mischievous, magical creatures; however, it was never mentioned in fairytales that there was a possibility they could be dangerous seducers, kidnappers and murderers.
Walking further up the mountain it quickly becomes evident that each pool is going to be bluer and more extravagant than the last. The water was crystal – clear and inviting on an unusually warm summers day and would not look out of place on a Mediterranean island. Unfortunately for the wild swimmers that swarm here in the summer months, the water isn’t as warm as it initially seems. After taking a dive in, it was immediately apparent that the water was colder than the North Sea in the winter months – numbing and painful. There was something enchanting about swimming in a natural Scottish spring, knowing that we are proud to say we are among the countries with the cleanest and purest natural water in the world.
It is obvious why the Fairy Pools found on the Isle of Skye are among the most beautiful places on Earth. Today, there isn’t much (if any) proof of fairies existing, only paintings, old poems and our depiction of what fairies should be like from films like Peter Pan, Cinderella and the likes. Is it really possible to definitively say that such creatures didn’t/don’t exist? How can we prove that in the 18th century there was not any hard evidence of such creatures? If such creatures did or do exist I am sure they would reside here. It is the perfect place to lure people in. Maybe fairies continue to exist. Maybe fairies bewitch the visitors to unclothe and dive into the rocky, perishing water…