The creation of over 100 new parking spaces at the Fairy Pools is set to ease pressure on popular tourist spot.

Last year, Skye made headlines for all the wrong reasons. Fake news – soon debunked – began circulating that Police Scotland were warning tourists away from the island due to overcrowding. However, the story had a core of truth: Skye is feeling the pressure, and popular beauty spots such as the Fairy Pools in Glenbrittle are suffering from increased traffic.

It’s estimated that visitor numbers to the Fairy Pools are now well in excess of 100,000 a year. In August 2017, local mountaineering and outdoor instructor Jamie Bankhead told The Great Outdoors that “The main problem, which frays locals’ nerves to breaking point, is that all the big attractions are located on single-track roads with inadequate parking. Mountain Rescue have had difficulties in getting vehicles into the glen due to thoughtless parking on the verges, which does not seem to be policed.”

Lack of toilet facilities and footpath erosion are also growing concerns.

New parking and facilities

In March 2018, it was announced that funding had been secured for new parking and other facilities at the Fairy Pools – a £600,000 project made possible thanks to the partnership between the Minginish Community Hall Association and the Outdoor Trust for Scotland.

The existing 30-car facility will be increased to provide 137 parking spaces, with additional designated parking for campervans, motorbikes and bicycles. Pick-up and drop-off facilities will be included for tour buses. Construction began at the site on 25 July 2018.

Work begins
Image courtesy of MCHA

Work begins
Image courtesy of MCHA

Somewhat controversially, there will be a parking charge of £5 for those using the facilities – a charge that is now in force for anyone using the existing car park.

We got in touch with the Trustees of the Minginish Community Hall Association, who provided this comment:

“The Minginish Community Hall Association (MCHA) is delighted that construction of the new car park at the Fairy Pools has started. A unique partnership with the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland has been established to develop and manage the car park and associated facilities. The MCHA is both excited and relieved that they are involved, as in the longer term this means the partnership will deliver a more sustainable tourism experience. The full scope of work, which includes toilet facilities, information points and picnic areas, is expected to be completed by March 2019 with the initial car park construction due to be finished by December 2018. It is important to us that the development does not impact on the existing environment and the design and construction will be sympathetic to the surrounding landscape.

“A car parking charge of £5 has been introduced for those using the facilities. This money will be used to provide benefits for the local community and the environment in the longer term. It will go towards the upkeep of the car park facilities including providing local employment on site. It will also be used to fund path repairs, environmental regeneration, wildlife and sustainable tourism education, as well as the possible development of an outdoor learning centre, or similar, focusing on environmental benefits. The new carpark will help alleviate some of the traffic issues currently experienced at the site, minimising the overall impact on the lives of locals.”

“The Minginish Community Hall Association is starting to draft a strategy for how the proceeds from the car park should be spent, and is currently deliberating on the best methods for consulting the wider community”

Not everyone is happy about the £5 parking fee. There are many comments on the most recent project update on the SkyeConnect Facebook page, some of which are supportive of the charge – pointing out that it’s far cheaper than a typical parking charge in Glasgow – while others feel it’s too expensive.

When asked about the £5 parking fee, Henrik Micski, Project Officer on behalf of the MCHA, added: “The car park is leased from the Community by the Outdoor Access Trust for Scotland (OATS) and the operation and maintenance of the carpark is their responsibility. As such, it is OATS that set the rate for parking and not the Community. The Community will receive an annual lease payment from OATS that is directly linked to gross income, all of which will be spent on providing wider benefits to the Minginish area and its residents. The Minginish Community Hall Association is starting to draft a strategy for how the proceeds from the car park should be spent, and is currently deliberating on the best methods for consulting the wider community. This consultation will inform the final strategy and plan.”

Are you a Skye resident or regular visitor? What’s your opinion on the new parking facilities and the £5 parking charge? Send your readers’ letters to tgo.ed@kelsey.co.uk.

Header image © Mark Bulmer / Shutterstock