The enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye and the magical waters of Sligachan
Update: May 23, 2022
On the foreground and very much at home below the wild, rugged Cuillin Mountains on the Isle of Skye is a quaint village called Sligachan but truth be told, it is not the village that people come here to see. A few steps away from the village sits an enchantingly picturesque three-arch old stone bridge simply known as the Sligachan Bridge. The area is a little piece of paradise on the wild Scottish Highland.
What to expect from this article on the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
This little paradise can be easily missed but it is worth a stop on your itinerary while visiting the Isle of Skye. Keep reading to learn more about the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, the legend of the magical waters of Sligachan and how you can unlock the secret to eternal beauty along with a little background on Sligachan Village. You will also find information about an important monument unveiled recently in 2020 and places to stay nearby. Finally, some information on how to reach this remarkable spot and the best time to visit the enchanting Sligachan Bridge.
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The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
The enchanting Sligachan Bridge is special. It is brought to life like many other scenic spots on the Isle of Skye by the stories and legends associated with it.
Many come here to test the spellbinding ancient legend associated with the magical waters of Sligachan that runs under the enchanting Sligachan bridge. The enchanted waters of Sligachan is said to deliver eternal beauty provided the brave souls can submerge and stick to the rules!
As well, people come here to see, capture the views of the mighty mountains that so often graces canvasses and television screens and to experience a slice of the wild Scotland.
Just so you know, there are two bridges at Sligachan. A more recent bridge was constructed for vehicles and is part of the main road, A87 to Portree, the capital city of Skye. The original Sligachan Bridge is now a pedestrian and cyclists only bridge.
When was the enchanting Sligachan Bridge built?
The enchanting Sligachan Bridge was engineered by Thomas Telford between 1810 and 1818. This enchanting Old Sligachan Bridge is a single track bridge and has three uneven arches with a hump over the central arch. It sits really well with the unspoilt countryside and the Cuillins, bringing to life the time-old legend of the enchanted waters that runs beneath it.
The Enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the legend of magical waters of Sligachan
The legend of magical waters of Sligachan begins with the story of Scotland’s famous warrior woman, Scáthach. She lived around 200 BC in a fortress on the Isle of Skye. A never-ending battle ensued between her and an Irish warrior…
The Warrior Woman
The warrior woman Scáthach, whose name in Gaelic means “Shadowy” is believed to have lived in Dunscaith Castle (known as Dún Scáith in Gaelic, which means “Castle of Shadows”). The Castle was located on the south of the island, in Tokavaig, the ruins of which can still be visited today. Scáthach was the greatest fighter in all of Scotland and news of her greatness travelled far and wide around the globe.
The Competitive Warrior
Soon, an Irish warrior, Cú Chulainn came to know of Scáthach’s might and he hopped across the ocean to Skye to defeat her. According to the legend, Cú Chulainn was half god, super strong and unbeaten. He was not a bad person but just very competitive. His aim was to crush Scáthach and prove his might to everyone in the world.
A fierce battle between the two warriors raged for weeks. The warriors were so strong that their battle caused the earth to move and animals to flee Skye. The crushing blows created mountains and valleys. It was the greatest battle the land had ever witnessed. There seemed no end to the battle and only one resolution was inevitable – a battle to the death.
Scáthach’s daughter was very upset. She couldn’t take the fighting anymore with the inevitable outcome of death and feared that her mother would lose the battle. She ran to the stream, Sligachan River where she cried and cried and cried…wishing out loud for someone would help stop the battle. Her cries were so passionate and her love for her mother so great that “someone” did hear her from the magical world.
The magical waters of Sligachan was, and still is, believed to be a portal to the faerie world and the faeries heard her heartbreaking cries. The faeries decided to help her and opened the portal. They instructed Scáthach’s daughter to submerge her face in the waters of the stream to discover what she could do to stop the fight. She did as she was told. She emerged from the waters enlightened as the faeries had blessed her with the knowledge of what to do.
The end of the battle
Armed with the knowledge, Scáthach’s daughter went all around Skye, gathering herbs, meats, nuts and everything delicious that Skye produced. She brought them home, and stewed them up into a hearty broth one could ever imagine. She fanned the smoke so it could fill the valleys. The scent of the broth was intensely incredible and travelled far across the Isle of Skye.
The fighting warriors smelt it. They continued the battle but could not go on for much longer. They had not eaten for several weeks and they were starved! Both warriors agreed to take a break to enjoy a feast. They made their way to Scáthach’s home where her daughter greeted them. They feasted together and ate as they have never eaten before.
It was this feast that would mark the end of the battle. By eating in Scáthach’s home, Cú Chulainn became a guest. As such, both warriors cannot hurt each other any more – you can’t really hurt someone who has hosted you right? The battle was over with neither losing to the other.
In pursuit of Eternal Beauty
Legend has it that the portal to the faeries world was forever ‘disturbed’ when they decided to help Scáthach’s daughter. Her passionate tears of love and her beauty opened the portal to the magical world and if anyone should be so brave as to submerge their face on the icy cold water of the magical stream, the faeries would grant them eternal beauty. The waters near to and under the Sligachan Bridge is said to be the portal to the other world.
However, seeking eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge is not really pleasant or a comfortable thing to do!
Unlocking the secret to eternal beauty at Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
In accordance with the legend, and to unlock the secret to eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, you need to observe some rules 🙂
1 | You need to dip your face in the cold magical icy waters of Sligachan;
2 | Must keep your face submerged for a whole 7 seconds;
3 | You can’t stop half way or submerge half a face – if you do, your efforts will be worthless;
4 | You can’t bring the water to your face – it has to be a full face dip;
5 | After your 7 seconds dip, you need to let your face dry naturally.
For the faerie magic to work and for eternal beauty to take hold, you must follow the rules above. This means you may need to get to your hands and knees on the rocks, so your face can touch the magical waters of Sligachan.
You might want to consider bringing a large towel along so you could lay it on the rocks to protect your clothes from getting stained or wet. It might be a good idea to do this on a sunny day so the waters will dry off quickly. As for the icy waters of Sligachan itself, well…this is Scotland after all and I don’t think it will ever be warm!
Safety tips: Just be aware that the river might flow very fast in bad weather and the rocks might be slippery. Please take care when exploring.
Explore the surrounds of Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
When visiting the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, you may want to explore more of the picturesque area. You could stop by at Sligachan Village, a few steps away from the bridge and visit the monument dedicated to the Cuillin mountaineers.
About Sligachan Village
Sligachan Village is a small settlement on the Isle of Skye, Scotland. The Village takes its name from the Gaelic word, ‘Sligeachan’ which means “shelly place”, after the shells found at River Sligachan.
This quaint village is located close to the Red and Black Cuillin Mountains with the Sligachan Glen between them. The Village and the old enchanting Sligachan Bridge which we had already visited above provides sweeping views of the Cuillin Mountains and the wild Scottish countryside. The scenery from the old enchanting Sligachan Bridge is amazing. There is also a path that leads to hiking the Cuillins.
A haven for mountaineers and hikers of Cuillin Mountains
Sligachan Village has long been a haven for mountaineers, ever since the 1800s when it was discovered that this part of Scotland had mountains with menacing crags and pinnacles draped in unnatural wisps of cloud. It conjured up the mysteries and excitements, alluring climbers to Skye.
You can find a monument dedicated to the renowned mountaineers of the Cuillin Mountains nearby.
Monument to Skye climbing pioneers of Cuillin Mountains
In Septembeer 2020, a long-awaited tribute to two pioneering climbers of the Cuillin Mountains was unveiled. John Mackenzie and Norman Collie formed a partnership lasting fifty years during which time they climbed, mapped and named many of the Cuillin peaks as is known today.
This fitting tribute have the men gazing at their beloved mountains for all time.
Sligachan is the gateway to the Cuillin Mountains. If hiking or climbing is your preferred mode of discovery, you may find all the hiking info for the Cuillin Mountains including other hiking destinations on the Isle of Skye in the following resources:
Recommended read: The Unique Collie-Mackenzie Monument at Skye’s Celebrated Cuillin Mountains
Where to Stay near the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
Sligachan Village is an ideal base for mountaineers as well as for anyone who do not wish to climb the mountains. Explore the picturesque surrounds of the enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the unbeaten path of Skye at your own pace while enjoying the hospitality bestowed upon visitors to this village. Sligachan Village has accommodations for all budgets and suits families, couples, groups and climbers.
There is a campsite at the head of Loch Sligachan, within easy walk of the Sligachan Village. The Village offers a bunkhouse that sleeps 8 with self-catering facilities, ideal for shoestring travellers. There are two cottages that sleeps up to 8 each and a house sleeping up to 14. If you want to experience a little luxury, stay at the Sligachan Hotel.
The Sligachan Hotel was built in 1830 and is a classic Scottish hotel. It comes complete with a good restaurant, lounge and a very popular bar. The restaurant is well-known for its “hearty-meals” while the Seumas’ bar at the hotel boasts an impressive collection of over 400 malts!
Accommodations close to the enchanting Sligachan Bridge – Portree
Sligachan is en-route to Portree, the main city on the Isle of Skye at just 15 minutes journey time. Portree is a popular destination for visitors as it is an ideal base to spend a few days while you explore Skye. Portree offers a wide range of accommodations to suit all budgets along with eateries and bars. Below are some suggestions for a stay at this beautiful harbour town fringed by cliffs and lovely coloured houses.
1 | The Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel offers stunning views over Portree Harbour with a number of rooms offering sea views. The restaurants specialises in local seafood and continental breakfast is served each day
2 | Skeabost House Hotel
Located in magnificent grounds with its own 9-hole golf course, the Skeabost is perfectly located for exploring the Isle of Skye as well as the Scottish Highlands. Some rooms offer views towards Loch Snizort and its salmon river, on which the hotel has seasonal fishing rights.
For more choices >> places to stay at Portree
Where is the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
The enchanting Sligachan Bridge is located along the A87, that links Broadford to Portree. There is a small car park for visitors to Collie-Mackenzie monument and several lay-bys where you could park safely.
Parking is available at Sligachan Hotel but this is strictly limited to guests only. Perhaps, you could stop by at the bar for a taste of one of their 400 malts after exploring Sligachan Bridge?
Best time to Visit the enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye
The enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the surrounding areas, are popular spots. Even more so now with the incredible monument dedicated to the mountaineers. As such, nearly all of the Isle of Skye tour groups stop here. Therefore, expect a crowd around mid-morning and late afternoons. If you want to beat the crowds, try visiting early in the morning, before 9:30 a.m. or at dusk. You may catch the sun setting over the Cuillins on a non-rainy day which is said to be a spectacular sight!
Note: If you decide to join a group tour, please ensure with the tour operators that they do stop at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge. Drivers have the flexibility to adjust their itinerary to suit and they may decide not to stop here if they are running late for their next destination on the itinerary. Having said that, many tour groups do stop here.
A word of caution though, as early mornings and dusk comes with other impediments too. The dreaded Scottish midge are generally found in swamps and marshy areas. They bite unsuspecting passers-by. The midge season is from mid-May to end of September. If you are worried about these insects affecting you, try Smidge, a midge repellent to keep them away.
Do you believe in faeries?
I do love a good story, be it legends or myths. Although there are a couple of versions to the enchanting Sligachan Bridge and the enchanted waters of Sligachan story, I like this one, related by a Scotsman and also because a little good magic never hurts anyone.
As well, it goes without saying that as with any legends, and Skye has many, that one should take it with a generous pinch of salt. While I was totally enchanted with the legend of the magical waters that run under the enchanting Sligachan Bridge, I did not dip my face in the icy cold waters of the stream. I did not, only because I did not want my clothes to be dirtied on the day. Hence, my suggestion above to bring a towel along to protect your clothing. I hope to do so on my next trip to Sligachan.
In the alternative, you may want to consider a large bin liner instead.
(Note: If you decide on the bin liner, please ensure to dispose it off responsibly after your trip)
Whether you believe in legends or not, the enchanting Sligachan Bridge is a good view point for the wild Scottish countryside and the captivating Cuillin Mountains.
Will you be giving it a go at unlocking the secret to eternal beauty at the enchanting Sligachan Bridge? Do let me know in comments.
Group Tours to consider when visiting the Isle of Skye
I find group tours to be immensely helpful as they give an overview of the destinations I visit. What I like most is the fact that my hands are free off the steering wheel and my eyes are free to roam the spectacular scenery that are sometimes missed when I drive. The Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highland are places where nothing should go amiss.
If you choose to experience a group tour to the Isle of Skye, perhaps the following suggestions may assist in your decision-making.
Tours to the Isle of Skye
On a final note
There is always something magical about the Isle of Skye…awe-inspiring landscapes, grey skies, and cotton clouds that follows you wherever you are on Skye! What adds to the magical Skye are the stories. Stories of faeries. Some are true, they say and some are myths and legends that fits the landscape. Somehow, these stories bring to life the scenic beauty of Skye and makes a perfect backdrop to places visited.
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Have a splendid time exploring Sligachan.
Basics for Isle of Skye
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Quick facts on Scotland
Population: Over 5.4 million (2020)
Common Language: English. Gaelic is spoken by 1.3% of the population mostly in the west and in the Highlands.
Currency: £ – Pound (GBP)
Capital City: Edinburgh . Home to the first fire brigade in the world, and is the second largest city in Scotland. The largest metropolis in Scotland is Glasgow .
High season: Summer (July – August)
Religion: Christianity – 40% Church of Scotland. 15% Roman Catholic and 6% other Christian denominations. Groups include Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh with a quarter of the population has been recorded as having no religion.
Social courtesies: Handshaking is customary when introduced to someone for the first time. When visiting someone’s home, a small gift such as flowers or a box of chocolates is appreciated.
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The enchanting Sligachan Bridge Isle of Skye and the magical waters of Sligachan first published at timelesstravelsteps.com. Update: May 23, 2022
It’s a no wonder you can remember those lyrics!!. The Isle of Skye is truly special.
Speed, bonnie boat, like a bird on the wing
Onward! the sailors cry
Carry the lad that’s born to be King
Over the sea to Skye
I have never, yet been to Skye having only hit the islands of Iona and Mull but it plays a part for me touching me as if I had been there. The song lyrics was the music I had my passing out parade to in 1980 and I recall it well.
A friend recently did a project on various islands and would concur with all you say although your writing and presentation of it is on another level. The way you have written really brings it to life. Saving the blog because we hope to go one day. Wonderfully written, informative and descriptive as always
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