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ACTIVE OUTDOORS: A damp walk at the Fairy Glen Falls at Rosemarkie


By Rachel Smart

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The waterfall in full force.
The waterfall in full force.

The weather warnings were yellow with much flooding expected, but despite this, myself and my colleague James thought a venture to Cromarty was in order.

On the way he suggested we go for a walk to the Fairy Glen falls at Rosemarkie. Reluctantly, I agreed despite the heavy rain and that my kind of walk normally involves just going from coffee shop to coffee shop.

He reassured me that there was a sturdy path the whole way along and that it was only “less than a mile.” I like getting out in nature so thought why not?!

We pulled up at the car park, which was quite full, so I was glad we weren’t the only ones about to get damp.

Just at the bottom of the car park there is a small path that leads under a bridge. The water in the stream beside the path was roaring past, and I thought one wrong move and that would be me (I tend to have an overactive imagination).

The path then leads up to a driveway, where there is a sign for the Fairy Glen waterfalls. We walked past a gingerbread-looking house, and then back onto the path, where you then have to cross a wooden boardwalk beside the water.

Our first obstacle came when we reached a big slab of concrete that just stops, where we then had to take a leap over the water to reach land. Feeling like Bear Grylls, but looking more like Calamity Jane, I took the jump. It felt very adventurous, but I was soon brought back down to earth when James told me that the water was inches deep, and it “wasn’t that impressive”. We carried on, taking the path and trying to navigate the slippery segments (which was most of it). We passed by a murky looking pond, and there were some small inclines but nothing too drastic.

There are several bridges on the route, and when we got to the last section, we had to stay close to a tree to get our away around due to the rain.

Thinking I'm Bear Grylls and waiting for him to call me for my TV debut.
Thinking I'm Bear Grylls and waiting for him to call me for my TV debut.

But, before we knew it – and after a little complaining from me – we had arrived at the Fairy Glen falls. However, unlike a fairy, there was nothing dainty about it on this day, but it was magical.

The water was roaring down, which was rather mesmerising to watch. Legend has it that the glen was inhabited by fairies, who would keep the water flowing through the glen clean and available for the villagers. Local children would collect flowers and place them in pools of the glen to keep the creatures happy while doing their important work.

It certainly felt like an incredible place to be, where the magnificence and force of nature made me feel at peace. The feeling of the spray from the waterfall against my face felt fresh, as I basked in the beauty of it all. The different shades of green were shimmering in the conditions and I could feel the air of mysticism about it all.

James carried on around to the second waterfall, but I was a bit too nervous for that due to it being slightly higher up and the wet conditions.

A picture with the roaring falls.
A picture with the roaring falls.

I enjoyed the moments of peace while he was gone however, just soaking it all in. And my coat literally soaking in all the water from the falls and the rain pouring from the sky.

We enjoyed the falls for a bit longer, as the relentless water flew, making its way downstream.

We headed back the way we’d come. In the short space of time the water had risen even further, and at one of the bridges it was splashing up under it.

The pond.
The pond.

We headed back to the car, and when I took off my coat I found out that it hadn’t exactly been waterproof and I was soaked through. The heating was put on and we headed in the direction of Cromarty where I was eager to get something warm to drink and a bite to eat to shake off the chill.

We found ourselves at Slaughterhouse Coffee at the pier, where there was a warm fire going in the cafe. We ordered ourselves some hot chocolates, and sat beside the fire with a sense of accomplishment.

Sadly, I missed the money tree at the falls so it means I need to go back again! Perhaps in some less torrential rain, and perhaps if the fairies allow, some sunshine...

Warming up beside the fire at Slaughterhouse Coffee.
Warming up beside the fire at Slaughterhouse Coffee.

Route details

Fairy Glen, Rosemarkie

Distance 1.75 miles / 3km

Terrain Paths, wet and muddy in places

Start/finish Rosemarkie – car park beside Plough Inn

Map OS Landranger 27; OS Explorer 432

An out-and-back walk to the waterfalls at the Fairy Glen in Rosemarkie, on the Black Isle

Rosemarkie Fairy Glen walk. ©Crown copyright 2024 Ordnance Survey. Media 034/24.
Rosemarkie Fairy Glen walk. ©Crown copyright 2024 Ordnance Survey. Media 034/24.

Click here to see the route in OS Maps


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