Clashnessie Waterfall

Clashnessie Bay / Assynt Parish, Sutherland, Scotland

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 2
The Clashnessie Waterfall

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Clashnessie Waterfall was our waterfalling reason to take the deceptively long (and dangerous) out-and-back detour from the Loch Assynt vicinity towards the tranquil town and bay of Clashnessie (Clais an Easaidh in Gaelic). The waterfall itself was said to be a modest 15m tall, but when we saw it in person, it had a very full flow and bulbous appearance as it stood out behind the handful of homes and pastures that made up the community of Clashnessie. On the opposite side of the hamlet in the direction of the Clashnessie Bay was a scenic soft-sanded beach, which our daughter thoroughly enjoyed since the hike to falls was a bit on the rough side.

Speaking of the hike, the signs in the area actually pointed out that there were two paths reaching the Clashnessie Waterfall from the car park by the beach. The sanctioned path actually required me to walk along the mostly single-track B869 road towards the western end of the hamlet before another sign pointed me inland, where I'd have to weave in between some private property then go onto a rough 4x4 track leading towards what seemed to be yet another property where I wasn't sure if it was occupied or not. Just before the trail disappeared into that property, there were more signs pointing to my left telling me that further progress was across some stepping stones traversing the Abhainn Clais an Eas (Clashnessie River).

Because the river was running a bit high, I wasn't willing to risk a mishap slipping and falling and possibly dousing my camera (and other things) with water. Perhaps with trekking poles (which I didn't have as I was trying to travel light) I might be able to traverse these stepping stones without water getting into the Gore-tex boots. But as it was, I had to turn back and give the non-sanctioned route a try. At least I did spent some time taking a few photos of the front of Clashnessie Waterfall from a distance, but it still left me wanting to get a closer look. So after about 45 minutes or so of this futile out-and-back pursuit, I returned to the car park where I then started going the other route.

The non-sanctioned route started adjacent to the public car park near the Clashnessie Beach. This route was the direct walking path at the base of the adjacent hills and cliffs leading past a private property or two before getting to the other side of the stepping stones (the ones that turned be back earlier), then finally reaching the base of the impressive Clashnessie Waterfall. It turned out that because this path passed by (and possibly through) some private property, it might have caused issues with the landowner(s). This was especially apparent on the way back from the falls when regaining the trail past the stepping stones and back to the skirting of the property wasn't very trivial as the trail was ill-defined there. Plus, the footing on the trail was rocky and very muddy for most of the way so despite the short distances, progress was pretty slow.

In any case, the overall time I spent away from the car to do this hike was about 90 minutes, but we have to keep in mind that I did the trail both ways. So it's probably more reasonable to expect that this trail should take no more than 45 minutes to an hour depending on your pace and how long you want to linger at the falls.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

When Julie and Tahia weren't waterfalling, they were checking out the beautiful beach at Clashnessie Bay, which was tranquil given how hard it was to drive hereWhen Julie and Tahia weren't waterfalling, they were checking out the beautiful beach at Clashnessie Bay, which was tranquil given how hard it was to drive here
About an hour's drive from Clashnessie was the hamlet of Kylesku, where one can take boat tours of the scenic Loch Glencoul shown hereAbout an hour's drive from Clashnessie was the hamlet of Kylesku, where one can take boat tours of the scenic Loch Glencoul shown here
Just 4.1 miles south of the trailhead of the difficult hike to Eas a' Chual Aluinn (or about 8 miles south of Kylesku) was the beautifully-situated Ardvreck CastleJust 4.1 miles south of the trailhead of the difficult hike to Eas a' Chual Aluinn (or about 8 miles south of Kylesku) was the beautifully-situated Ardvreck Castle
About 36 miles north of Kylesku was the town of Durness, which featured the Smoo Cave as well as this surprisingly beautiful 'award winning' beach beneath the visitor centerAbout 36 miles north of Kylesku was the town of Durness, which featured the Smoo Cave as well as this surprisingly beautiful 'award winning' beach beneath the visitor center
While making the treacherous drive on the B869 road to Clashnessie, we encountered this small herd of red deer right off the roadWhile making the treacherous drive on the B869 road to Clashnessie, we encountered this small herd of red deer right off the road

Looking across the Clashnessie Beach from the public car parkLooking across the Clashnessie Beach from the public car park

At first, I was walking along the single-track B869 road towards the other side of the hamlet of ClashnessieAt first, I was walking along the single-track B869 road towards the other side of the hamlet of Clashnessie

Near this old-school phone booth, that was when I then went inland towards the waterfallNear this old-school phone booth, that was when I then went inland towards the waterfall

Looking straight ahead at the Clashnessie Waterfall in the distance as I had to weave my way amongst the private property to get thereLooking straight ahead at the Clashnessie Waterfall in the distance as I had to weave my way amongst the private property to get there

Getting closer to the Clashnessie Waterfall from the sanctioned trailGetting closer to the Clashnessie Waterfall from the sanctioned trail

This shot tries to show you the type of terrain I had to deal with when hiking the sanctioned trailThis shot tries to show you the type of terrain I had to deal with when hiking the sanctioned trail

These were the signposts telling me to take the stepping stones to the left and cross the Clashnessie River, which unfortunately, was running at nearly full spate during my visitThese were the signposts telling me to take the stepping stones to the left and cross the Clashnessie River, which unfortunately, was running at nearly full spate during my visit

View of the Clashnessie Waterfall from the sanctioned trail but before the stepping stonesView of the Clashnessie Waterfall from the sanctioned trail but before the stepping stones

Looking across a private field towards a direct view of Clashnessie WaterfallLooking across a private field towards a direct view of Clashnessie Waterfall

Tahia and Julie enjoying themselves at Clashnessie Beach while I was trying to find a way to access the waterfallTahia and Julie enjoying themselves at Clashnessie Beach while I was trying to find a way to access the waterfall

Now I was walking up the unsanctioned trail after my failure to cross the stepping stonesNow I was walking up the unsanctioned trail after my failure to cross the stepping stones

Looking up the Clashnessie River from the other side of the stepping stones towards the fallsLooking up the Clashnessie River from the other side of the stepping stones towards the falls

This was as close to the Clashnessie Waterfall as I would getThis was as close to the Clashnessie Waterfall as I would get

The faint walking path that I tried to follow on the way back to the car parkThe faint walking path that I tried to follow on the way back to the car park


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Starting off with a distant view of the waterfall in full spate then walking over to the stepping stones that I was supposed to cross (but the stream was running too full)


Left to right sweep of the falls from near its base with the sweep ending further downstream


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

Earlier in the writeup, I said that the single-track road B869 to get from Loch Assynt to Clashnessie was dangerous. The reason why I said this was because that single-track road was full of blind turns and even blind summits where if you're not careful, you can easily get into a head-on collision with someone going in the opposite direction. And even though my GPS was adamant about this 14-mile drive (between the A894 road and Clashnessie) taking less than 20 minutes, the reality was that it's unlikely you'd be able to go faster than an average speed of 10-15 mph. So even though we're saying it took us 45 minutes to make the drive, I can easily envision it taking an hour or more if you were really deliberate about driving the B869 road.

So with that caveat aside, it would take another 2 hours to drive from Inverness to the B869 turnoff a short distance south of Kylesku. This B869 turnoff was just under 6 miles north of the Ardvreck Castle and about 2 miles south of Kylesku both along the A894 road. For directions on getting to Ardvreck Castle, see the directions on its page. For directions on getting to Kylesku, see the directions on the Eas a' Chual Aluinn page.

There was also the possibility of taking the A867 road west of Loch Assynt towards Loch Inver, where the other side of the B869 road was, but we didn't go that way so we can't really say much more about that.

In any case, from Inverness, plan on the drive to get to Clashnessie to take at least 3 hours.

Finally, for some additional context, our base of Inverness was 57 miles (90 minutes drive) southeast of Ullapool, 155 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Edinburgh and 169 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Glasgow.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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