As we made our way to Portree on our Scottish Highlands road trip, I couldn’t remember the name of the bridge I had seen last time — but knew I needed to see it again. Why go back? Well, it has so much folklore associated with it, I needed to know what I was missing out on to be quite frank. There is nothing I hate more in this world than not learning all the aspects of a place, including the fairytales/ghost stories that may be associated with it. The roads in Scotland are typically quite barren other than the white polka-dot shapes of the lambs grazing in the expansive pastures.
It had to be here! I knew I was looking for a random white hotel at on the right side. I was concentrating so hard, trying to remember the name that was just out of reach. The rental car sailed over a hill, and around the corner and BAM there it was! Sligachan Hotel, no wonder I didn’t remember the name (I’m terrible with names). We waited for a spot, as many tourists wanted to partake in the photo op atop the picturesque bridge.
If you’re parking at the hotel I would obviously advise you not to be too cheeky and at least have a coffee as you’re using their parking facilities. You would be surprised how much a Scottish Highlander knows about the local area, and where to find those hidden gems.
THE MYTH OF WATERS
Now let me tell you the tale of the enchanted waters that runs below Sligachan Bridge. Long ago, in a town not so far away, lived a great warrior woman of Scotland. Her name was Scáthach. She was a beast of a woman, one that you wouldn’t want to rival in any Scottish Highland games – but would want in front of you in battle.
Tales of her bravery and strength spread across the Northern Isles and lands. The Irish warrior, Cúchulainn, was known in his country as the strongest, smartest, fastest warrior and knew in order to maintain the coveted reputation he had to put an end to these rumors of Scáthach being able to beat him.
He set sail immediately, arriving on Skye he ran into a trainee of Scáthach and demanded that her mistress should come and face him. The crowds gathered as she emerged, the fire of pride shown in both of their eyes. Everyone held their breath as these two warriors charged each other and when they struck their first blows, the earth shook the petals off of all the flowers in the surrounding valley.
The children reached for their mothers, the horses bucked and neighed in fright. Animals ran for cover, and the men took an uneasy step back as the ferociousness increased. They were too evenly matched, neither one of them was willing to give in — it was to be a fight to the death. Scáthachs daughter ran, crying with worry and not wanting anyone to see that her weakness was the love for her mother. She fled to the river, she couldn’t bear to see her mother die and pled to the angels and fairies to save her.
What she didn’t know, is that water is a gateway between the faerie world and ours. Her sorrow was so intense, combined with the battle not far away reached the ears of the faeries. They came to Scáthachs daughter, gently collecting her tears and poured them into the water as an offering to the Faerie Queen. Her tears, being full of love, moved the faeries and granted her wish. They asked her to wash her face in the river, and the faerie’s knowledge rushed into her of how she could stop the battle and save her Mother.
Gathering the most fragrant herbs and nuts, the loving daughter threw her bounty into the fire. The delectable scents rose with the white smoke, caught by the wind, the scents wafted into the noses of the warriors. The ferociousness of the battle began to dwindle, as the stomach pangs of both the warriors won over their determination. At a brief pause in weapons clashing, a break in the battle was agreed upon and both warriors laid down their weapons to head to where the delicious meal surely awaited them both.
Scáthachs daughter had craftily prepared a meal worthy of these legendary warriors. As Cúchulainn ate, awareness dawned on both of the warriors they were in fact under the roof of Scáthachs. As was the custom in all the northern lands, when you dine under a roof – you are the guest and are compelled to do not harm to the guest, the host or anyone within.
It is said that because of the beauty of Scáthachs daughter, and her tears of love being poured into the river. Any who are brave enough to dip their face into the waters beneath Sligachan Bridge, you will be granted eternal beauty.
How to Approach the Gateway to the Faeries:
To do this the right way, you must give yourself over wholly to the process. You must believe that there is magic in Scotland and approach the river full of love for yourself and those who you travel with.
The way to the water requires a bit of skill, as you must climb over rocks and crags being careful not to slip and taint the waters with blood and pain. Once you reach the waters, it isn’t just a matter of ‘washing your face’, you cannot use your hands. You must get on your hands and knees, just as Scáthachs daughter did when she begged for her mother to be saved. Think of someone other than yourself and pour love into your heart for them.
Make sure that your heart is full of love, as you dip your face into the waters beneath Sligachan Bridge and hold it there for seven seconds. Every gift has a sacrifice, and the faeries need to know that you are committed in love and earnestness. After the seven seconds, remove your face with your eyes closed. Do not wipe away the water, but let it dry naturally. Say a quick thanks to the faeries for their kindness and reminding you of what is truly important in life.
If your heart is sincere, you may just be granted eternal beauty. Now the question remains, what is eternal beauty to you?
Where to Stay:
Things to Do:
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Janiel Green is a Travel Guru with 22 years of National travel experience in the USA, and 18 years of International Travel experience. She is a highly educated, courageous, driven and dedicated individual to both her professional and personal life. She is the Founder of Culture Trekking LLC, and is devoted to bringing a celebratory passion for humanity into her writing to make meaningful, useful, and heartfelt recommendations for a culturally enriched travel experience. For inquires please contact her at email@example.com