Sligachan Bridge

The Enchanted Waters Under The Sligachan Bridge

The Isle of Skye has always been seen as a magical place. Beautiful landscapes, plus myths and legends. There are some great stories, some true, some legends that go with the landscape of the Isle of Skye. From clan stories to faerie magic. Personally, I think stories like this really add to the place. And with the landscape on Skye, it’s easy to believe the legend. The Old Sligachan Bridge on Skye has a great tale, and what’s more, you can gain eternal beauty from the waters below the bridge.

The History Of Sligachan Bridge

Old Sligachan Bridge is now disused and has been replaced by a new bridge on the main road. You can find the old bridge just next to the new bridge. The bridge was built between 1810 and 1818 and was the work of Thomas Telford. With three spans, this rubble bridge has a pronounced hump. The new bridge that replaced this one is in a 1930s style. However, the exact date of it’s building is not known. Well, I can’t find a date anyway. If you know, please pop it in the comments below.

The Legend Of Sligachan Bridge

Now for my favourite part! The story behind the enchanted waters that run through the river below the bridge. There are actually two legends to the waters. I will tell the one that I was told on my Macbackpackers tour, as it is the only one I have heard from a Scotsman.

Two Great Warriors

Many years ago, on the Isle of Skye, there lived the greatest warrior woman of Scotland, Scáthach. Word of her greatness spread everywhere and one day it reached the ears of the greatest warrior of Ireland, Cúchulainn. Being such a renowned warrior, Cúchulainn knew that he must go and fight this warrior woman of Scotland to prove that he is better. So he set sail for the Isle of Skye.

Arriving on Skye, Cúchulainn came across a trainee of Scáthach and demanded that her mistress should come and face him. Scáthach came to meet him to battle and prove which one was strongest. So they fought. Their battle raged through the whole of the valley, shaking the earth, creating the valleys and mountains of Skye. Animals fled before them, terrified of the warriors. As they battled Scáthachs daughter ran down to the river and cried. She was terrified as she could not see how her mother could possibly win.

Sligachan Bridge

Sligachan Bridge

As everyone knows, water allows a gateway between the faerie world and ours. Some of the faeries heard the cries of Scáthachs daughter and came to her. The faeries told her to wash her face in the water of the river. She followed the faeries advice and washed her face in the waters.  Once she had done this, she was filled with the knowledge of how to stop the battle.

The Faerie Knowledge

Quickly, the daughter acted on her new knowledge. She ran back home to the lodge where her mother lived; along the way, she gathered herbs and nuts. Arriving at the lodge, she threw the nuts and herbs in onto the fire and fanned the smoke into the valley. Upon smelling the scent both warriors realised just how tired and hungry they were from the fighting. So they decided to stop for a bit, they laid down their weapons and headed to the lodge.

Arriving at the lodge they were greeted by Scáthachs daughter. She had prepared a meal worthy of the two mighty warriors. As Cúchulainn ate under the roof of Scáthach, this meant that he became her guest. Because of this, they could do each other no harm.

The legend of Sligachan states that if you dip your face in the river water by the Sligachan Bridge, you will be granted eternal beauty.

How To Gain Eternal Beauty

The phrase ‘eternal beauty’ is a strange one. Why did Scáthachs daughter get knowledge and now you can gain beauty? Is it because beauty is more than skin deep; is ‘beauty’ open to interpretation? Whatever you believe, it is important that you wash your face the correct way to gain beauty.

After getting to the river bank by the Sligachan bridge, washing your face is not a simple as it sounds. You must dip your face in the water, not bring the water up to your face. To do this you must get on your hands and knees at the water’s edge and fully submerge your face for seven seconds. Be warned, it is Scotland, the water is far from warm. Also, you can not wipe the water off, you must allow your face to dry naturally. And that is how you gain eternal beauty from the faeries at the Old Sligachan Bridge on the Isle of Skye.

Dipping Face In Enchanted Waters At Sligachan Bridge

Dipping Face In Enchanted Waters At Sligachan Bridge

Whether you believe in myths or not, the Sligachan Bridge is a great viewpoint. In the heart of the Cuillins, it is a beautiful part of Skye. I would encourage you to dip your face in the river whether you believe or not. I just like traditions and think it’s important to experience everything. Plus, you never know, it might just work,

How To Find The Old Sligachan Bridge

The Old Sligachan Bridge is just off the main road to Portree, in the heart of the Cuillins. Park at the Sligachan Hotel and make your way across the road to the left of the hotel to the bridge. If you’re parking at the hotel though, I would obviously advise you not to be too cheeky. You should at least have a coffee as you’re using their parking facilities. Clamber down the rocks on the right-hand side of the bridge to reach the enchanted faerie waters.

Want to visit? Check out some reviews on Tripadvisor and check out accommodation on Skye here.

9 Comments

  • Elisa says:

    This is so fascinating! I absolutely love the legend. And now, I have something else on my ever growing bucket list! LOL

  • Fantastic story and a great retelling. Thank you.

  • Lioslaith Rose says:

    The actual story says it happened at Scathachs fortress in the south. The daughter prepared three meals to try and tempt them to stop fighting on three consecutive days. The thrid day both parties were tempted by the hazels of knowledge – each thought eating them would let them know how to end the battle to their advantage. It worked. They both realised that neither could win – they were evenly matched. So they became allies.

    • Nat says:

      Thanks for that! It’s amazing how many versions of these old legends there are in the world. I guess it’s because they were originally shared through word of mouth.

  • Rene says:

    Our tour bus guide told us the legend of margaret who was forced to marry a rival clansmans to insure peace between the clans. When she did not become pregnant AND to top it off had an accident which scarred her face, she was returned to her clan and war broke out. All her clans people were killed. She had no one to protect her. A river fairy came to her, told her to bath her face in the river and all would be well. And it came to pass! She went on to marry again, had children and many grandchildren. Ta-daaa

    • Nat says:

      That’s a good story! I love how these places tend to have several legends surrounding them. I think I was told one very similar to you, but at a different point in Skye, I think it was the most northerly point where I was told that. That’s the beauty pf word of mouth tales.

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