Finding the Fairy Bridge of Glen Creran

by Keith Savage · 26 comments


The Fairy Bridge of Glen Creran

Scotland’s west highlands present some of the best hiking opportunities in the country. Trails snake amongst the deep glens, sea lochs, and forested hills, and who knows what you’ll find on any given day out hiking. There’s boundless serendipity to be had out in the highlands, and indeed Scotland possesses a trove of hidden treasures. I spent much of my recent time in Appin out in the natural splendor seeking these treasures, and I found more than a few, like Castle Tioram. I missed many more, but it’s the endless nature of this quest that keeps me in thrall to Scotland.

There was one place, however, that I found and wished not to leave. I wanted time to stop when I looked upon the Fairy Bridge of Glen Creran.

As with any fae place, it was not easy to find, so I hope this post will help — so long as you do not despoil it! Read on gentle reader and tread carefully. You may not be the same person after you have crossed Glen Creran’s Fairy Bridge.

As you read this post, consider listening to Max Richter’s Path 5 (Delta).

There are countless hikes you can make in the west highlands, and I always use Walk Highlands to get a list of my options. Since I’m no munro-bagger, I generally look for the hikes with a single ‘boot,’ and the hike to Fas na Cloiche and the Fairy Bridge caught my eye since Glen Creran was quite near to my base at the Eco Pods. Glen Creran is tucked deep in the hills at the head of Loch Creran, which is essentially the backside of Glencoe. This is not by any means on the main tourist drag, so you need to do a little planning to fit this into a trip. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Sarah and I, and our friends Michael and Katherine, piled into our car and took the A828 to Creagan where we followed signs to Glasdrum Wood on small, overhung roads. We followed the River Creran until we reached a car park where the road split to Glen Ure and Glen Etive. After parking the car, we quickly found the sign board for the Pine Marten Trail. Curiously, as if a tricksy sprite had commissioned the placard, there’s little mention of the Fairy Bridge — only an inconspicuous “FB” well off the dotted path.

The Pine Marten Trail is a pleasant walking path that crosses a bridge by a small waterfall and climbs the emerald slopes of Glen Creran, periodically offering a view across the glen to Beinn Sgulaird. The terrain climbs up as the path turns back on itself. Everywhere is lush vegetation: Mossy rocks, brilliant ferns, bracken, and cold water spilling from the hill tops.

To find the Fairy Bridge, you must leave the Pine Marten Trail where it bends back upon itself. There you’ll find the shadow of a trail that leads into dense, muddy woodland. We missed it on our first pass and had to backtrack. The path was treacherous, and more than once I slid on the mud and nearly capsized (I was the only one with footing problems, which is normally not an issue with me, and I swear I had not enjoyed a single dram yet that day).

Eventually the muddy tract petered out as we entered the far reaches of what I came to view as a fae realm, a place that should not exist in our world though we wish it might. Old trees, barded in yellowed moss, rose from the forest floor the purest color of green. Wild garlic bloomed everywhere, the little white flowers vying with newly bloomed indigo bluebells. A small stream cut through the vision with the elegance only nature provides.

Moss covered everything, swallowing lone stones and fallen trees, carrying them back into the earth. We studied each footfall, careful not to crush the flowers beneath us. The quiet, lush atmosphere was a pocket of otherworldliness. Magic. We took our time savoring the landscape.

And then we saw it: The Fairy Bridge.

I still get chills when I look at these photos and think back on that excursion. There is no imagination required. The bridge bears an alien quality, slightly off-center of humanity. It is a small thing, the stones forming a quick arch over a narrow but eager river. Along the bridge’s edges stand a series of upthrust stones like tines in the crown of some nature spirit. None of us spoke for a long time, we just listened to the water run beneath the arch. I think we felt like we had stumbled upon something we were not supposed to see, that we had found something meant to remain hidden. What dwelt in these woods?

Reluctantly and against a magnetic pull, we said goodbye to the Fairy Bridge of Glen Creran. The wild garlic escorted us from that place of fantasy and old truth as I flicked off ticks from my legs. The forest opened up and the hills of Glen Creran ran up to the brooding clouds. The path dropped us on the road a good twenty minutes walk up from the car park. We chatted in awed tones.

Never, in all my travels, have I found a place that spoke so loudly to a distant, relict part of me.


Jeanette HillisNo Gravatar October 18, 2016 at 8:56 PM

Hi Keith
I sent you a couple of emails last year when we were planning on a trip to Scotland May/June of 2016. Because of a family illness this got put off for a year so looking at May/June 2o17 After reading all your blogs and many of the comments from people we are pretty sure we are going to use your services . My question is : at what point do we do this , after we have our flights booked ( we are using points for our flts)??when we have a preliminary itinerary ? We will have about 24 days from home to home (west coast Canada ) We will be spending quite some time in the outer Hebrides (my Fathers ancestors are from here ) maybe about half the time so that leaves us about 11 days to divide between other places should we have the “other Places” in mind before we start your service

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 18, 2016 at 9:34 PM

Hi Jeanette,

The sooner the better. Things can book up quick and it’s best to have as much time as possible. Of course more information helps guide my recommendation writing, and you’ll want to feel pretty confident with what you submit.

Jeanette HillisNo Gravatar October 18, 2016 at 9:44 PM

we are planning to rent a car and were hoping we would not have to book to much ahead eg B & B is this a pipe dream

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 19, 2016 at 8:57 AM

It’s not a pipe dream, but it depends on the time of year you’re going and how picky you are about accommodations 🙂

Hanna & MikeNo Gravatar October 6, 2016 at 2:04 PM

We found this lovely spot on our hike this morning! What a special treat.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar October 6, 2016 at 4:27 PM

Yes! Glad you made it there, Hanna!

Joanie MurrayNo Gravatar April 11, 2016 at 8:12 AM

I hadn’t noticed before, but in one of the photos of the bridge itself, I swear I see the shadow of a wolf. Or maybe a magical creature? Thanks for sharing.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 11, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Which one, Joanie?!

Joanie MurrayNo Gravatar April 11, 2016 at 8:59 AM

5th from the bottom, near the center of the pic and just above the bridge.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 11, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Wow! Good eye. I can see what you see there. That’s pretty creepy/cool, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we had been joined by something…other…that day.

Joanie MurrayNo Gravatar April 11, 2016 at 9:37 AM

I wish we had time to go there on our trip in September. I’m sure we’ll find someplace just as inspiring and haunted?

LauraNo Gravatar April 9, 2016 at 11:55 AM

Hello Dave!

Thank you for this wonderful blog :). I definitely want to visit the Fairy Bridge. I had a question about the treacherous path. Treacherous because it was dangerous? Or slippery? I would be with my mom who is 73 (mother-daughter trip!). She’s in good shape and walks a lot. We will be in Scotland the first week of August. Also, I just booked Trochelhill :))

Thanks in advance for your answer.
Have a beautiful day!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 9, 2016 at 12:11 PM

Hi Laura,

It was treacherous during my visit because it was muddy and slippery from recent rains. I imagine that’s fairly common, however, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you encountered it in a similar state. Just take it slow and careful, wear some footwear you don’t mind getting muddy, and you and your mother should be ok. Trochelhill is wonderful – please give Iain and Dian my warm greetings!

Best,
Keith

LauraNo Gravatar April 9, 2016 at 12:43 PM

Thank you for your quick reply! I think we’ll give a go unless the weather turns awful while we are there 🙂
Best,
Laura

PaigeNo Gravatar March 3, 2016 at 1:17 PM

thank you, keith, for this wonderful recommendation. this summer, we’ll be driving from drumnadrochit down to oban and the fairy bridge seems a worthy detour. two questions for you…

* what time of the year did you take your hike?

* once finding the car park, how long would you allot for this excursion?

many thanks,
paige

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 3, 2016 at 1:42 PM

Hi Paige,

This hike was done in mid-May last year. From the car park it was probably around 45-60 minutes to the fairy bridge without wrong turns.

I hope you find it and appreciate its beauty!

Best,
Keith

Agnes MaclennanNo Gravatar November 1, 2015 at 3:42 PM

Found fairy bridge today with my husband and grand daughter. Beautiful place. Just magical.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar November 1, 2015 at 4:40 PM

Well done! Quite a nice little hike, isn’t it?

AndiNo Gravatar September 10, 2015 at 6:32 AM

What a lovely hike!!! Looks magical!

KenNo Gravatar September 9, 2015 at 4:39 PM

Sounds like one of those thin places so known to our Celtic ancestors. Beautiful photographs make one wish to be in those surroundings. Need to see more of the western highlands and the islands, too.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 9, 2015 at 5:10 PM

Thin place – exactly this.

Barb GeorgeNo Gravatar September 9, 2015 at 12:34 PM

OMGosh. This is fantastic. I have followed your website/blog for a time now… I have DREAMED of going to Scotland… since finding a gardening book centered around Oban at a tag sale YEARS ago… This bridge and area are so magical, I had to google the distance… 18 miles! OMG!!!
I have to get this planned… gotta do it!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar September 9, 2015 at 12:39 PM

Do it, Barb! It’s an incredible place.

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