Falls of Foyers

Foyers / Loch Ness / near Fort Augustus, Inverness-shire, Scotland

Rating: 3     Difficulty: 2
The Falls of Foyers

TABLE OF CONTENTS



[Back to top]

INTRODUCTION

The Falls of Foyers (Eas na Smuide in Scottish Gaelic meaning the Smoking Falls; pronounced "es-nuh-SMOOD-yuh") was a very attractive waterfall at the small hamlet of Foyers on the quieter eastern side of the famous Loch Ness. I've seen in the literature that it has a 165ft drop, and given how hard it was to compose photos from either of the two main lookouts without the falls filling almost the entire frame, I guess that lends some credence to the height figure. It even inspired the cultural icon Robert Burns to write a poem about the falls as well as "Scotland's worst poet" William McGonagall who also attributed some words about the falls in a poem.

Given how powerfully the waterfall was flowing during our visit on a beautiful late August afternoon in 2014, it wasn't hard to imagine why someone thought of the falls as tending to "smoke." Even Robert Burns saw a "horrid cauldron" when he first visited in 1787. However, it was hard to believe that the falls was said to have lost most of its volume from a hydropowered aluminum plant that essentially shaped the town of Foyers in 1894. The plant eventually was deprecated in 1967, and the power of the Falls of Foyers was re-purposed into a pumped storage facility that now is said to supply local towns and cities with electricity.

Looking over a pair of bridges towards Loch Ness While we're on the topic of heritage, a sign here made us aware that apparently accessing the views of the falls was not easy back before the 1830s as it involved a fair bit of cliff scrambling to descend to a point where it could be seen. Apparently, one rich visitor was willing to give 5 pounds as seed money to fund the building of a safer access path. fortunately, Joseph Mitchell who was a companion of that visitor happened to be a civil engineer who managed to raise an additional 45 pounds to finally build "the first safe access." Upon our visit, we basically followed a well-defined downhill trail that began right across the B852 road from the Waterfall Cafe (see directions below). That trail followed some steps and got a bit rocky in places (which might be slippery when wet) until we'd eventually reach the upper viewing area roughly 20 minutes from the start.

Since we were looking right against the sun, I guess the early afternoon wasn't the best time of day to see the falls. However, when I did a little more exploring by continuing further down the trail, I'd eventually reach a much better lower viewpoint of the main drop of the Falls of Foyers about 10 minutes later. From this vantage point, the sun was blocked by the tall vertical cliffs flanking the waterfall, and I was even able to look up towards that upper viewpoint we had been at earlier (providing some perspective as to how far down I went). Technically speaking, the Falls of Foyers experience could have ended here, and the rest of the hike would be all uphill going back to the Waterfall Cafe at the top. The difficulty rating reflects experiencing the falls this way.

However, I was a little confused about signage saying there was a Lower Falls Viewpoint further down the trail, and so I pursued it for another 30 minutes going all the way to a part of the trail where I overlooked a pair of bridges spanning a watercourse (possibly from Foyers) that eventually joined up with Loch Ness. Had I continued on the trail, I would've ultimately hiked a 2.75-mile loop that also would've brought me against the shores of Loch Ness as well as some other historical relics. But since I was looking for the elusive Lower Falls of Foyers, I'd eventually only have some footage of audible but not visible cascades as well as a dinky side cascade seeping from some thick foliage deep in the gorge well downstream of the main Falls of Foyers. In hindsight, the main drop of the falls could very well have been the Lower Falls of Foyers as I had seen historical photos of an Upper Falls of Foyers backed by an arched bridge.

If we're fortunate to make it back to Foyers, I'd probably make it a point to do a little more exploring of Foyers and that "upper" waterfall. But overall, I had spent a total of 90 minutes on the trail though it very easily could've just taken less than 60 minutes if I turned back at the lower viewpoint of the main drop of the Falls of Foyers.




[Back to top]

PHOTO JOURNAL

We based ourselves for four nights in the city of Inverness, which afforded us a lot of flexibility in terms of going to different parts of the Highlands depending on the weather conditionsWe based ourselves for four nights in the city of Inverness, which afforded us a lot of flexibility in terms of going to different parts of the Highlands depending on the weather conditions
Less than 2 miles beyond Drumnadrochit along the A82 on the other side of Loch Ness was the attractive ruins of Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness itselfLess than 2 miles beyond Drumnadrochit along the A82 on the other side of Loch Ness was the attractive ruins of Urquhart Castle overlooking Loch Ness itself
Our visit to Plodda Falls was actually part of a looping route around Loch Ness from Inverness, including the loch's quieter southeastern side seen here from Suidhe ViewpointOur visit to Plodda Falls was actually part of a looping route around Loch Ness from Inverness, including the loch's quieter southeastern side seen here from Suidhe Viewpoint
The parking situation at the Waterfall Cafe in Upper FoyersThe parking situation at the Waterfall Cafe in Upper Foyers

Perhaps this photo conveys the nature of the single-track B852 road as well as some of the limited parking at the Waterfall Cafe.  Note some of the cars parked further outside townPerhaps this photo conveys the nature of the single-track B852 road as well as some of the limited parking at the Waterfall Cafe

The Waterfall Cafe opposite the B852 road from the trail to the Falls of FoyersThe Waterfall Cafe opposite the B852 road from the trail to the waterfall

Looking down at a picnic table with a view towards Loch Ness in the distanceLooking down at a picnic table with a view towards Loch Ness in the distance

Julie and Tahia making their way down the steps towards the waterfallJulie and Tahia making their way down the steps towards the waterfall

The trail was seemingly going downhill for quite a ways, and I'd imagine this was part of the reason why Julie didn't want to pursue the lower (and better) viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers knowing she'd have to climb up the way we came downThe trail was seemingly going downhill for quite a ways, and I'd imagine this was part of the reason why Julie didn't want to pursue the lower (and better) viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers knowing she'd have to climb up the way we came down

Signs at the junctions were pretty obvious and one shouldn't be lost hereSigns at the junctions were pretty obvious and one shouldn't be lost here

Our first look at the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewpointOur first look at the waterfall from the upper viewpoint

We spotted this beautiful butterfly near the upper viewpointWe spotted this beautiful butterfly near the upper viewpoint

Julie and Tahia looking against the sun at the waterfallJulie and Tahia looking against the sun at the waterfall

This was a rocky part of the narrow trail as I pursued the lower viewpointThis was a rocky part of the narrow trail as I pursued the lower viewpoint

View of the Falls of Foyers from the lower lookoutView of the waterfall from the lower lookout

Landscape view of the Falls of Foyers trying to show some of the surrounding cliff sceneryLandscape view of the Falls of Foyers trying to show some of the surrounding cliff scenery

Although it wasn't required to go further down on the trail, I continued on in search of a lower waterfall that I thought was still aheadAlthough it wasn't required to go further down the trail, I continued on in search of a lower waterfall that I thought was still ahead

The trail continued to descend down steps amongst tall trees with the Foyers River still making noise over some cascades and rapids that were largely out of sightThe trail continued to descend down steps amongst tall trees with the Foyers River still making noise over some cascades and rapids that were largely out of sight

This was the turnaround point of my failed attempt at finding a Lower Falls of Foyers.  This was a pair of bridges spanning some watercourse (Foyers River?) emptying into Loch NessThis was the turnaround point of my failed attempt at finding a Lower Falls of Foyers. This was a pair of bridges spanning some watercourse (Foyers River?) emptying into Loch Ness

On the way back up to the Waterfall Cafe, I caught this distant partial view of the Falls of Foyers with some people at the lower lookout for scaleOn the way back up to the Waterfall Cafe, I caught this distant partial view of the Falls of Foyers with some people at the lower lookout for scale

Somewhere on the ascent, I took a look backwards and got this pretty view towards Loch NessSomewhere on the ascent, I took a look backwards and got this pretty view towards Loch Ness


[Back to top]

VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Focused on the falls from the upper lookout


Focused on the falls and the cove from the lower lookout


Meandering about the lower sections of the trail in search of the Lower Falls of Foyers. The end of the movie ends with a view over two bridges towards the southern shores of Loch Ness


[Back to top]

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

We visited the Falls of Foyers as part of a loop drive around Loch Ness that began and ended in Inverness, where we had based ourselves. So after passing through the town of Fort Augustus (where the headwaters of Loch Ness became the Caledonian Canal leading all the way to Fort William), we then drove mostly single-lane B862 road for about 10.6 miles to the B852 road turnoff on the left. We then followed the narrow B852 road for 2.5 miles to the Waterfall Cafe, where we managed to find parking within the limited space of the car park here.

It took us about 45-60 minutes to drive from Fort Augustus to Foyers, and it would have taken us about an hour to drive from Inverness to Fort Augustus via the A82 road on the western shores of Loch Ness.

Conversely, we could have also gone along the eastern shores of Loch Ness via the single-track B852 road from Inverness to Foyers. We spent about 40 minutes driving in the opposite direction from Foyers to Inverness along this route so I'd imagine it should take about as long to do it in reverse.

Finally, for some geographic context, our base of Inverness was 65 miles (about 90-120 minutes drive) northeast of Fort William, 155 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Edinburgh and 169 miles (3.5 hours drive) north of Glasgow.




[Back to top]

ITINERARIES

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




[Back to top]

MAP OF THE FALLS



Click here for the full World of Waterfalls map





[Back to top]

TRIP REPORTS

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




[Back to top]

TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES





[Back to top]

NEARBY WATERFALLS




[Back to top]

RELATED PAGES



Have You Been To This Waterfall?

Share your experience!

Click here to see visitor comments for this waterfall

Click here to see visitor comments for other waterfalls that we've visited in this region

Click here to go to the Comments Main Page

You can use the form below, but if you find our host's interface too troublesome to use (especially if you're trying to upload photos), then just send a text submission anyways using the form, but also let us know that you'd like to attach photos. If you've provided an email address via the form, then we can reply back acknowledging your request, and you can then reply to that email with your photo attachments. We're very sorry about this, but there's not much we can do about SBI's terrible interface.



[Back to top]

[Go to the Great Britain Waterfalls Page]

[Go to the Europe Page]


[Return from Falls of Foyers to the World of Waterfalls Home Page]