The Steall Falls Walk is widely-reported as one of the best short walks in Scotland. Its trail is simple, yet the results are huge. Long, strenuous walks are incredibly rewarding, but from time to time, a quick, low-level, jaunt in the Scottish Highlands may be all that you have time for. Are you making a detour to Fort William from your NC500 road trip? The walk to Steall Falls may be exactly what your itinerary is missing!
The Steall Waterfall is Scotland’s second-highest, with a single drop of 120 metres that plummets from the slopes of An Gearanach. The feature lies within the shadows of Britain’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, along the dramatic valley of Glen Nevis and the Nevis Gorge. With only a 3.5 kilometre round-trip, which should take approximately 2 hours, this hiking experience will leave you with a lasting memory of Scotland’s true mountainous beauty.
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Steall Falls is also an iconic location that featured in The Goblet of Fire and The Half-Blood Prince.
Your Simple Guide to Steall Falls Walk…
Where to Park for the Steall Waterfall Hike
There is a dedicated car park for the Steall Falls Walk and other surrounding hikes. It’s located seven miles southeast of Fort William, at the end of the Glen Nevis Road. To those who are motorhome and camper owners: Please be aware that this drive dwindles down to a very narrow single-track road that crosses small bridges. There is an abundance of passing places en route, however, these are often eliminated by tourists who have chosen to park there. This is an offence in Scotland that can result in a heavily congested traffic jam of vehicles trying to manoeuvre their way out of tight situations.
Alternatively, you could find parking slightly further downhill, or even at the Lower Falls. These parking areas are easily spotted as you make your way up to the car park described above. However, they will add a considerable amount of walking time to your journey.
There are bike stands at the very beginning of the walk. It may be an idea to park any larger vehicles at the Lower Falls, to cycle up and securely store your bike before walking the trail. Otherwise, just make sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment; this is a very busy spot.
How to Get to Steall Falls Bridge
The route is very easy to follow. To begin, make your way to the end of the car park where you can then follow the trail through the woodland. It does begin with a slight incline, but overall, the route isn’t a continuous uphill trudge.
For the most part, the ground is made of steady rocks that meander along the top of a gorge. The pathway is wide enough to allow for plenty of space between passing walkers and the drop. Therefore, this trail is suitable for the whole family; including energetic kids (accompanied by an adult) and the adventurous elderly.
Technically, the pathway doesn’t actually end at the waterfall. It just leads walkers to a beautiful area for admiring the falls from about a quarter of a mile away. At this point, you’ll notice a fork in the path. If you continue with the trail on the right, it will lead you to the notorious Steall Falls Rope Bridge.
Is the Steall Falls Bridge Safe?
How steady are you on your feet?
The Steall Falls Bridge is constructed with four lines of wire that stretch across the river to the slightly higher rocks on the other side.
In detail, there are two wires at arm height for holding and two lower wires that are tightly fixed together for a sturdier foot base. Children or small adults may not be big enough to stretch themselves between the wires to hold on, as they are quite widely spaced apart.
Move along the bridge in a ‘tight roping‘ motion with one foot in front of the other. Take your time and focus on the task at hand.
At first glance, the bridge looks easy peasy. However, once you are balancing a couple of metres above the river, it’s high enough to add an element of fear for most people. The thick wires do provide a sturdy base to gently edge yourself along, but the drop is also high enough to injure anyone who falls off. Be careful.
How to Get Even Closer to the Steall Waterfall
Cross the river. This can be done by either walking over the wire bridge, jumping between rocks or paddling through a shallower area.
On the other side, you’ll notice a path that splits; one route follows the river whilst the other finishes at the Steall Hut. These routes don’t last long before they fade into the boggy marshland. From here, your guess would be as good as mine!
Wild Camping at Steall Falls in Glen Nevis
From personal experience, seeing Glen Nevis expand into the lush meadow for the first time felt similar to Leonardo DiCaprio stumbling upon his paradise in The Beach. Once the trail opens up to the glen, it’s like you’ve found the true heart of Scotland’s natural beauty. Though, that’s if the weather is being nice to you!
From the constant white noise of the falling water to the awe-inspiring mountains surrounding the glen… It’s no wonder that the Steall Falls Walk offers such a great camping ground to many visitors. If you’re lucky enough to catch the area on a particularly warm spring day, then it’s quite simply a stunning place to base yourself for a night or two, especially if your aim is to summit a few of the surrounding Munros.
How to Photograph Steall Falls
In my opinion, the best angle for a photograph is on the left side of the river. From there, it’s possible to scramble closer to the bottom of the waterfall. Please be careful; the rocks become extremely slippy with the constant precipitation. You’ll see hikers trying to plot their route across the bottom of the waterfall here. However, it’s much easier, and safer, to walk a couple of metres downstream to find a shallower stretch to walk across barefoot.
Furthermore, if you are seeking a photograph of the falls within its entirety with the mountainous surroundings then climb the small hill that is situated directly in front of the falls, and above where the trail finished at the fork.
Are you looking for other Scottish gems to add to your itinerary? These are some local favourites:
- Old Boat of Caol (Scotland’s Most Photogenic Shipwreck)
- Glenfinnan Viaduct Train Viewpoints (Explained!)
Scottish Highlands Google Map Legend
This Google Map Legend showcases 140+ need-to-know coordinates within our bonnie Scottish Highlands & Islands:
- Awesome Wild Camping Park-Ups
- Best Walks, Viewpoints, Beaches
- Bucket List Locations
- Accessible Showers & Fresh Water Taps
- Relevant Links to Online Travel Guides