There’s no escaping the fact that Scotland has a lot of water. The rain that this wee nation is famous for is not a bad thing, however, as it used for whisky, it means there are never droughts, and it also means an abundance of beautiful waterfalls. Here we have selected nine that are not to be missed.
Falls of Shin
Situated on the River Shin, not too far from Lairg, these are not the tallest of waterfalls, but they are in a lovely location, surrounded by marvellous trails through mixed woodland. This is a commonly visited spot, and the rush of the water is often accompanied by the sound of children playing, so if you want to seek out a waterfall for quiet contemplation, this might not be the best of choices! At the right time of year the falls play host to the magnificent spectacle of leaping salmon, returning upriver to spawn.
These are impressive falls, dropping down into the River Righ in the glen below. Like Shin, these are easily reached and surrounded by beautiful woodland. The waterfalls themselves are in stages and the overall drop amounts to a considerable height. This is a popular spot for canyoneering, and also an excellent location to see wild red squirrels close up.
Corrieshalloch Gorge and the Falls of Measach
The gorge at Corrieshalloch is over 60 metres (200 feet) deep, and at the Falls of Measach, the River Droma plunges 45 metres (150 feet) into the depths. The Victorians loved this spot, and the renowned engineer, John Fowler, built a suspension bridge over them (Fowler was also the joint chief engineer on the Forth Railway Bridge). To stand on the bridge, which is also wheelchair accessible, and gaze down into the mist is awe-inspiring. The area is a nature reserve, with rare moss and other bryophytes thriving in the damp box canyon and golden eagles often soaring overhead.
Falls of Glomach
Meaning “gloomy” or “hazy” in Gaelic, Glomach can often live up to its name, with the crashing falls often enveloped in atmospheric and photogenic mist. At 113 metres (370 feet) high, the falls are among the highest in Britain, and are certainly one of the most spectacular. It is a long walk to reach them, across outstandingly beautiful wild country, but the walk is worth it. Just be extra careful if the weather is misty, as the drop at the falls is a long way down!
Grey Mare’s Tail
The fifth highest in the UK, this waterfall was created during the last ice age, when a hanging valley was left cut out by glaciers. The water plunges 60 metres (200 feet) down a sheer cliff face from Loch Skeen at the top. Beloved by Sir Walter Scott, the name for this waterfall is used in a few other places in the UK, including one in Wales and at least one other in Scotland. This is an excellent spot to brush up on your knowledge of glacial geology.
Although the falls at the Fairy Pools are not very high, they are among the most beautiful, tumbling into pools of turquoise water, deceptively deep, fresh and clear. This is a very popular spot with wild swimmers, and walking along Glen Brittle it is possible to spend a hot day discovering different pools to cool the feet. With the backdrop of the stunning Black Cuillin mountains, if you visit Skye these wee falls are a must-see.
Another Skye waterfall, but entirely different to the Fairy Pools, Mealt Falls plunge 55 metres (180 feet) off the edge of the cliff into the sea below. This would be impressive on its own, but what makes Mealt even more special is the backdrop of Kilt Rock. This is where upright basalt rock columns sit on top of a horizontal sandstone base, add to this lines of vegetation and you have a cliff face that can look uncannily like a tartan kilt!
Rogie Falls are another of Scotland’s hidden treasures, often eclipsed by their local rivals at Shin, these falls are arguably far prettier and a lot less crowded. There is an observation bridge and, like at Shin, the chance to see leaping salmon. The walk to the falls is relatively easy and, as can be seen from the photo, do not be put off by weather conditions other than sunshine, as the most beautiful photographs often come when there is mist or low cloud.
Last but definitely not least, Steall Falls in Glen Nevis are outrageously pretty and look like something from The Lord of the Rings, or perhaps The Last of the Mohicans. In fact, if they do look familiar, it is because they made an appearance in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Harry battles the dragon! With a drop of 120 metres (390 feet), they are very tall indeed and, with Fort William so close, they are well worth a visit if you are in the area.