Wailing Widow Falls – Loch Na Gainmhich, Scotland


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The story of the Wailing Widow Waterfall has been passed down through centuries in the Scottish Highlands and hiking to get there is, fortunately, simpler than you may assume. 

Located along the North Coast 500, Wailing Widow Falls, is a 30-metre waterfall that cascades from Loch Na Gainmhich into a tiny valley below. As a result, this waterfall is a must-see for anyone passing through the region. Despite the fact that this waterfall is relatively unknown, those who have seen it are willing to report that Wailing Widow Falls is by far Scotland’s most beautiful waterfall.

Continue reading to learn more about Wailing Widow Falls, its historic backstory, why these falls are considered so popular, where they’re located, how to access them, as well as how to incorporate Wailing Widow Falls into your NC500 trip and more.

What Is Wailing Widow Falls?

The Wailing Widow Waterfall is perhaps Scotland’s most magnificent waterfall. Despite being only a short walk from the A894 on the NC500 route, this stunning 30-metre waterfall is largely obscure. This magnificent waterfall is also unquestionably one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets, and it should surely be on every bucket list.

Wailing Widow Falls is also one of the most accessible waterfalls in Scotland with the parking lot being located only a short distance from the bottom of the falls. However, if you’re feeling more daring, you can also climb to the top of the falls for spectacular views of both the loch and the falls.

When travelling along the North Coast 500, it is recommended that tourists add this breath-taking waterfall to their route. While this gem is hidden away in the Scottish Highlands, it is well worth the effort to locate and experience.

Wailing Widow Falls
Wailing Widow Falls

Where Is Wailing Widow Falls Located?

Visiting the Wailing Widow Waterfall is recommended for anybody travelling the North Coast 500 route or simply visiting the Scottish Highlands. Located between Kylesku Bridge and Ardvreck Castle, these falls can be found along the A894 past Ullapool.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that the waterfall is not visible from the road, and there are no prominent signposts, amenities, or designated parking areas. As a result, if you’re looking for the falls, you’ll want to pay close attention. After all, it’s easy to overlook this hidden jewel.

Is Accessing Wailing Widow Falls Easy?

Despite its remote location along the North Coast 500, Wailing Widow Falls is one of Sutherland’s most accessible waterfalls, being only a short walk from a car park on the A894. Simply walk east from the parking lot, following the rocky route until you reach the top of the falls.

But be prepared as it is a short walk but if the weather isn’t very good it can be challenging, there is no path and you have to walk by the side of the stream that can be higher if it has been raining.

We wouldn’t recommend doing this if you were not able to walk on uneven ground that could be slippery and wouldn’t recommend it for pushchairs or wheelchairs.

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How To Get to Wailing Widow Falls?

When visiting Wailing Widow Falls, it’s important to either use Google Maps or plan out your route ahead of time. Before leaving, you can either Google the falls themselves or search for Loch na Gainmhich to find the parking lot. 

Thankfully, Google Maps can reliably locate both entry sites; although, it’s worth noting that neither is visible from the road. As a result, if you’re approaching the falls from the north, be aware that passing the turnoff is incredibly easy to miss.

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Is There Accessible Parking Available When Visiting Wailing Widow Falls?

Unfortunately, due to its seclusion, just a limited parking space is available at the base of the falls. This area is also unmarked, making it simple to overlook and pass by while driving down the NC500.

The main car park is located on the A894 near the northern end of Loch na Gainmhich, on a tight bend. If this main parking lot is full, a rough layby to the south is also available.

There is maybe space for one or two cars and campervans depending on they decide to park.

There is some more parking a short 5 minute walk away that is up the hill and on the right, but be careful as this is on the main road walking down,

Surprisingly, Wailing Widow Falls is relatively unknown, and it is frequently overlooked by those eager to complete the North Coast 500.

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit the Wailing Widow Falls?

Wailing Widow Falls, Loch Na Gainmhich, and the surrounding region are free to visit all year. However, due to the wetness of the terrain and the valley leading up to the waterfall, visitors are encouraged to visit during the summer months, when the ground is less likely to be swampy.

However, because you are going to visit a waterfall, expect to get wet. These falls are also undoubtedly breath-taking to visit after a strong downpour, as this is when the cascade is at its most spectacular.

It is also recommended to attend just early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid visiting at the same time as others and due to the small amount of space for parking.

If you’d like to know more information about van life in Scotland, you can check out all of our other blog posts – Scotland – Three As A Bird – Van Life Travels

Does Wailing Widow Falls Have a Historic Backstory?

Scotland is known for its fondness for stories and mythology. While many of these have yet to be shown to be true, it hasn’t prevented a whole civilisation from passing down myths from generation to generation, explaining unusual locales with dramatic, and often sad, narratives.

The story of the Wailing Widow waterfall follows a similar pattern, telling a tale of love and grief at the same time.

In general, tradition has it that the Wailing Widow got its name from an ancient folk tale about a young guy out deer hunting. Unfortunately, it was a stormy day with poor visibility. As a result, he missed the top of the waterfall and sadly died after falling over the cliff.

When his bereaved mother learned of her son’s death the next morning, she went to the waterfall and hurled herself over the edge, devastated and overtaken with grief.

How To Experience Wailing Widow Falls?

When you get to the falls, the direction you take will be determined by the viewpoint you want to see. The most typical vantage point, for example, is from the bottom. However, some people prefer to see the falls from a higher vantage point, such as at the top of the falls or on the valley’s crest. At this top viewpoint, Loch Na Gainmhich can also be seen.

From The Top of The Falls

Start by parking your car in the designated parking area if you want to combine your view of the falls with the loch or discover where the legend of the Wailing Widow comes from.

From this parking area, you can hike your own way across the swampy marshes and directly up to the top of the waterfall. Hikers should also wear suitable footwear and avoid travelling during periods of severe rains.

It’s worth noting, however, that there is also no safety barrier at the top of the falls or a firm route at the bottom. As a result, these hikes are not recommended for anyone with children, strollers, or any other form of mobility needs.

From The Base of The Falls

To get to the bottom of the falls, park in the car park. When parking here, remember to tuck your car in neatly so that other guests can use the very limited parking spot.

Then, simply follow the rocky route into the little valley that meanders alongside the river from this very small car lot. With the turn on your right, this path should take you upstream. With magnificent rock formations standing high on your left, even the hike to the waterfall is stunning.

Take note, that any prospect of a solid route immediately fades as the trial proceeds, and it becomes a fight against heavy mud and loose or damp boulders. With this in mind, waterproof hiking footwear is advised when hiking along this trail. Overall, the hike should take 10-20 minutes to complete, one way.

Hikers can also follow the gorge’s edge north for an even greater view. Take note that the gorge does eventually fade, and a route leads down to Allt Crananaidh, from which you may return south to the waterfall. This viewpoint is actually considered one of the best views from below in the Scottish Highlands.

How To Incorporate Wailing Widow Falls into Your North Coast 500 Route?

Make a point of stopping just north of Ullapool to see Wailing Widow Falls, which offers stunning vistas. Take note, however, that due to the NC500’s rural location and the bulk of the sites along the route, driving is the best method to get around. As a result, a personal vehicle or campervan will be required to access the location.

Some other breath-taking stops to add to your North Coast 500 route schedule include Rogie Falls, Applecross Peninsula, Clachtoll, Rosemarkie Beach, and more.

What Are Considered the Best Hotels Located Near Wailing Widow Falls?

If you’re not travelling in a campervan or motorhome, finding accommodation can often be a determining factor as to whether you can visit your desired destination or not.

Kylesku, a small Scottish fishing village, is within a 5-minute drive from the iconic Wailing Widow Falls, and only a 2.4-mile hike if you’re feeling adventurous. Fortunately, a few hotels can be found in this town. 

For example, Newton Lodge is the closest of these hotels to the falls. Luxury tartan furniture, crackling lounge fireplaces, lake breakfast views, and one of the coolest-looking bars in the Highlands are just a few of the things you’ll discover here.

Kylesku Hotel, on the other hand, attracts a large number of locals owing to the reputation they have developed around their restaurant cuisine and environment. Many tourists are also pleasantly surprised by the large number of vegan alternatives available at both hotels.

Final Thoughts

Wailing Widow Falls, located along the North Coast 500, is a 30-meter waterfall that descends from Loch Na Gainmhich into a little valley below. As a result, anybody travelling through the area should stop by to observe this waterfall. Despite the fact that it is a relatively obscure waterfall, many who have seen it agree that Wailing Widow Falls should be classified as Scotland’s most beautiful waterfall.

These falls may be located along the A894 past Ullapool, between Kylesku Bridge and Ardvreck Castle. However, due to its remoteness, only a few parking spaces are accessible at the base of the falls. This region is also unmarked, making it easy to miss and drive right through while driving along the NC500.

Nonetheless, if you can manage to locate the parking lot, both the upper and lower hikes to the falls will be well worth the adventure.

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