Fall On Me
Scotland is blessed with an abundance of natural wonders. For hundreds of years people have been flocking to visit its mountains and beaches but there is so much more to see if you make the effort to look a bit further. Waterfalls have long held the imagination of writers and visitors in the know but have been somewhat overshadowed by the sheer number of alternative attractions in the country. Here is a short list of some of our favourites that you should try and visit on your next Scottish holiday.
Best for a Wilderness Experience
The Eas a’ Chual Aluinn in Assynt which translates as The Waterfall of the Beautiful Tresses is a bit of an enigma. When in full flow it has a sheer drop of 200 metres which is over three times higher than Niagara Falls but, despite it being the biggest waterfall in the country, it is not well known and is only rarely visited. The main reason for this is probably due to its remoteness and relative inaccessibility, it’s a six mile walk across boggy ground, starting from just south of Kylesku, before you can lay eyes on it. The rugged terrain is not signposted, so offers a challenging day out and an intriguing alternative to walking up one of the many local hills. It is definitely worth the effort as it’s a true wilderness experience where you are unlikely to see any signs of civilisation or other walkers. In the summer, boat tours depart from the slipway just outside the Kylesku Hotel that give you the opportunity to see the falls from Loch Glencoul but, to experience the full power of the thundering cascades, close up then nothing beats making your own way there. Seahorses is just a short drive away, right in the middle of the Assynt landscape, it offers stunning views across to Quinag and easy access to all the best mountains and most popular hikes in the North West.
Best for a Roadside Selfie
Whilst it’s too easy to belittle the roadside selfie brigade, for many people (especially those short of time or limited mobility) it is an essential part of their holiday. Mealt Falls on Skye delivers the most photogenic natural experience and wow factor in return for a disproportionately small amount of effort, in fact you barely have to leave the car park. Located 15 miles north of Portree these falls plunge 55 metres down sheer cliffs before hitting the sea below in a violent explosion of spray. A must see for anyone already planning a visit to the area to see The Old Man of Storr and The Quiraing. Beach House ,just south of Portree, is a brilliant and serene spot to unwind after an action packed day out sightseeing.
Best for Diving in
The Falls of Falloch, also known as Rob Roy’s Bathtub are just a five minute walk from the car park just up the A82 from Ardchyle. Diving in from one of the many rocky outcrops would make a wonderful way to finish off a long day out in the hills. Although there is footage online of daredevils paddling off the edge (and miraculously not hurting themselves) we would not recommend you attempt to copy them. Instead there are more than enough safer options for an invigorating dip including swimming right under the falls. This local beauty spot has a number of picnic benches and a recently constructed shelter called The Woven Sound which edges out over the water to give amazing views to those who don’t want to get wet. This was designed as an acoustic amplifier which modulates the sound of the falls and is engraved with inspirational words from Dorothy Wordsworth. More akin to a sculpture this is worth a visit in its own right.
Best for Families
It’s not just the Highlands where you can find such wonders of nature. The evocatively named Gray Mares Tail is the 5th highest in the UK and to be found in the Borders just a short drive from Westerkirk Mains. The falls were immortalised by Sir Walter Scott in his book Marmion and now make up the centrepiece of the surrounding nature reserve which is owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The footpath from the valley floor up to Loch Skeen, to get a close-up look at the drama of the falls in their majestic surrounds, is one of the more popular walks in the area. The hike does not require a huge level of fitness, or advanced navigation skills, and with parking just off the road it means it is convenient and suitable for all ages. You could combine a visit here with a stop at another curiously monickered local landmark, The Devil’s Beeftub, which is just a short drive further up the road.