Scotland is home to some of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders, from loch to heath to wildlife. But its collection of naturally made waterfalls are not just stunning – they’ve offered divine inspiration in the works of writers, conservationists and painters. Up and down the country, tucked into grand landscapes of wilderness, you’ll find some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Scotland – and these are the ones you shouldn’t miss.
Found near the quaint Victorian village of Tomich, Plodda Falls is a spectacular 151 feet plunge of water. Hidden amongst a forest of fir trees, the water cascades past the treetops from a nearby loch. The falls can now be viewed by a newly constructed viewing platform, giving incredible views not just of the waterfall, but of the surrounding forest too.
On the dramatic edge of the Isle of Skye coastline, this 180-foot drop spills water directly into the Atlantic Ocean. It gets its name from Loch Mealt, where the water is directly fed from. For optimal viewing, head to the lookout area that has been specially built a little away from the Falls to not just get the best view of the waterfall, but views of the coastline as well.
A waterfall with its very own ‘punchbowl’, the Linn of Quoich is actually a gorge with a narrow waterfall running through it. The ‘punchbowl’ is carved by the Water of Quoich, creating a naturally formed hole in the rocks. Surrounded by peaceful pine trees, Queen Victoria herself was fond of visiting this tranquil spot, causing it to become a favourite attraction for visiting tourists.
With a drop of 370 feet, the Falls of Glomach is one of the tallest waterfalls in Britain and borders Kintail, a mountain area in the Northwest Highlands that is operated and looked after by the National Trust of Scotland. Though not easily accessible – it’s an 8km trek through remote countryside – it’s well worth the visit. The falls get their name from the Scottish Gaelic word ‘Glomach’, which translates to ‘hazy’, said to describe the appearance of the heavy waters in the mist.
Home to not one, but two waterfalls the aptly named Fairy Glen is accessed by a delightful woodland walk, which culminates in the beautiful rushing waters of the falls. Fairy Glen gets its namesake from a well-dressing ceremony undertaken centuries ago, where children of the local village decorated a pool with flowers to ensure that the fairies kept the water supply clean for the village’s inhabitants. The Glen is now associated with Scottish geologist and author Hugh Miller, whose writings on geological formation specific to the falls attracted many tourists.
Formed by glacial meltwaters which carved out the unique rock formations following the Quaternary Ice Age over 2.5 million years ago, the Gorge is now a Category II Protected Area by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Its name translates, in Gaelic, to ‘ugly hollow’, though don’t let the name convince you to ignore this treasure. Those looking for adventure can cross the Victorian suspension bridge and look directly down over the Falls of Measach below.
A popular spot with birdwatchers, the Falls of Kirkaig is a 60-foot powerful waterfall. Accessible through a nearby woodland walk and glen, the falls gets its name from the old Norwegian word, meaning ‘place where church is’.
With a drop of over 100 feet, dropping into the nearby gorge, Inchree Falls is entwined with Scottish history. The falls form part of a forest walk that is built along an ancient military road, which was built after the first Jacobite Uprising in the early 18th century, allowing quick movement of troops in more desolate areas. Along with the falls, you’ll get unparalleled views of Loch Linnhe, as well as getting to see many beautiful species of plants and wildlife – especially red squirrels!
Scotland’s second-highest waterfall at 390 feet, Steall Falls runs through Nevis George, an area of natural beauty owned by the John Muir Trust. It was previously known by its Scottish Gaelic name, An Steall Bàn, roughly translating to ‘the white spout’. Not only will the falls give you a brilliant view of Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest mountain, but you can also access the base via a three-wire crossing over the waters – perfect for thrill-seekers! The falls have also made a cameo appearance in two of the Harry Potter films.
A series of waterfalls on the Bruar Water, this waterfall has been a popular tourist attraction since the 18th century. Largely believed to have been formed after the last Ice Age, the waterfall drops at around 196 feet and is best viewed after heavy rainfall. The falls were immortalized in the poem ‘The Humble Petition of the Bruar Water to the Noble Duke of Atholl’ by Robert Burns. Anthropomorphising the water, it begged the owner to plant more trees around the falls after Burns left the site feeling unimpressed by the lack of surrounding vegetation.
With a fall of 165 feet, the Falls of Foyers is something of an influential waterfall in Scottish history. Its name comes from the Gaelic meaning ‘smoking waters’, feeding into the famous Loch Ness. The falls inspired Robert Addams to write a paper on motion aftereffect in the 19th century, as well as the painter and conservationist Mary Rose Hill to immortalize the falls on canvas. Surrounded by woodland, there are two viewpoints to see the true beauty of the waterfall.