Scotland: Skye locals’ sentiment stacks up against Fairy Glen tourist stone pile cairns

Tourists visiting beauty spots in the Scottish Highlands are putting them at risk of erosion by building rock formations for Instagram snaps, conservationists have said.

Stacked pyramids of stones have appeared on Unesco-listed beaches on Orkney, and at the Fairy Glen on the Isle of Skye – made famous by blockbuster film The BFG.

Stone stacking, which enthusiasts describe as “meditative” and “artistic”, can also be seen on Iona, Inner Hebrides. However, one conservationist said “without a doubt it is having an impact on ecology”.

Dog-walker Claire Irons, 53, spotted at least 50 of the rock formations at the Fairy Glen.

The area is known as the “Fairy Glen” due to a distinctive group of round grassy hills, with ponds between them.

Concerned the rocks might topple and crush her Border Terrier, Treacle, Mrs Irons confronted tourists she saw stacking rocks and told them to stop – but was told she was spoiling their fun.

Mrs Irons said: “It’s the first time I’ve noticed it, we don’t tend to go up that way in summer. There’s normally so many tourists around. When I went up on a dog walk, I was amazed – you couldn’t walk on the path.

“It is tourists rather than locals who do it.”

Having lived on the island for five years, Mrs Irons said she was concerned that the structure of stone walls was being destroyed by tour groups.


They have also been spotted on Iona.

Mr Hourston added: “The people who like to do this see it as completely harmless. People are increasingly wanting to get into the wild, but the wild is becoming less wild.”

Issues with tourists hit the Isle of Skye last year, too.

It waved the white flag after it was overwhelmed with visitors.

So many tried to visit that the police warned them not to come if they hadn’t booked accommodation.

Hotels and campsites were so full that they turned people away.

Some holidaymakers slept in their vehicles while the sheer number of cars, coaches and camper vans created bottlenecks on the narrow roads.

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