Away with the fairies

Motivation is the key to getting young children to be enthusiastic about what us grown-ups boringly refer to as “going for a walk”. That, and ice cream.

But on this occasion we had a little extra help – from a new book containing 24 family adventures in and around Inverness. Let’s go on a Wee Adventure was launched at the end of last month, and contains around 50 suggested routes including buggy-friendly trails, play park adventures, hidden history, bike rides for little wheels and big hill treks.

It contains loads of useful snippets of information that parents need to know, too, such as where there’s a good café in the area and the nearest public toilets.

The Let’s go on a Wee Adventure book definitely gets the approval of Jennifer (left) and Clara on our Fairy Glen walk.

We decided to head over the Kessock Bridge to the Black Isle, and see if we could find any sign of the fairies in the beautiful wooded glen at Rosemarkie. I read a section of the book to the girls: “It is very easy to imagine the fairies that live among the bluebells and wash in the waterfalls when the humans are not looking. Maybe you can spot one?”

And they were off! The exciting little path at the Fairy Glen heads under the road bridge then follows a track before cutting right to follow the burn, heading over a little boardwalk.

They were soon collecting leaves (Jennifer had brought a tub with her specifically for this purpose) and dropping “helicopters” into the water. Little secret paths darted here and there, with loads to explore between the trees and the undergrowth. Then there were wooden bridges to cross, the first taking us over the burn before we climbed up to the right slightly.

Clara was looking out for the fairies, even though they tend to shy away from people and probably only come out before anybody is here in the morning and after everybody has gone home to bed. We did see some magic, though – could the ripples in the water be the fairies jumping in?

Soon we came across the large millpond – once used as a source of ice for the fish-houses in the village – and stopped to search for minibeasts from the purpose-built platform.

Meg tries not to lose her glasses at the pond-dipping platform.

The path continues through the trees to reach another bridge ahead of the first waterfall, where we stopped on the rocks to have a snack before following the steps up and over the top of the fall, along a narrow stretch with a rope attached to the rocks for assistance.

We held onto the girls tightly here but we soon made it to the nearby top waterfall. This beautiful spot is surely where the fairies spend most of their time, and the girls made wishes by putting coins into the fairy log.

While they were busy, I hopped over the rocks to the middle of the shallow pool to take a few photographs, knowing full well they would both want to join me here in the home of the fairies.

One by one, I went to help them over and, despite the wet feet, they got to stand where the fairies stand.

The top waterfall at the Fairy Glen.

The bridge here crosses the burn and climbs up to the main road, which has no pavement, so the return journey is best made via the same route.

Before we headed back, however, we spotted not a fairy but a dipper, bobbing up and down on the far bank. We watched it duck its head under the water, searching for food until we decided it was time to go on a hunt for our own very late lunch.

A game of hide and seek kept the children entertained all the way back to the car park, where they took their soggy shoes off for the journey to a nearby café for a well-earned treat.

* Let’s go on a Wee Adventure is available from weeadventurescotland.co.uk for £5.99 plus P&P. You can also find a list of stockists on the website.

Route details

Fairy Glen

Distance 2.5 miles / 4km

Terrain Muddy paths, rugged in places with one or two steep drops

Start/finish Fairy Glen car park, Rosemarkie, Black Isle

Map OS Explorer 432, Black Isle

Go on a Wee Adventure to help encourage the children to enjoy the great outdoors

* Article first published in Active Outdoors | July 7, 2017

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