Eas a' Chual Aluinn

Loch Assynt / Kylesku, Scotland, UK (Great Britain)

About Eas a’ Chual Aluinn


Hiking Distance: tour
Suggested Time: 2 hours

Date first visited: 2014-08-25
Date last visited: 2014-08-25

Waterfall Latitude: 58.20456
Waterfall Longitude: -4.92842

The Eas a’ Chual Aluinn was the bastardized Gaelic name of what has been widely reported to be Great Britain’s highest above-surface waterfall at 658ft (about 200m).

The actual Gaelic name was said to be “Eas a’ Chuil Alainn” meaning waterfall of the beautiful tresses.

Kylesku_250_08252014 - Distant view of the Eas a' Chual Aluinn Waterfall at the end of Loch Beag
Distant view of the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall at the end of Loch Beag

The guide on the boat who pronounced it “es-a-KOLL-a-LOO-un” told me a different meaning translating into something like “the waterfall of the beautiful Glencoul”.

Whatever the meaning and translations may be, it turned out that there were two main ways of visiting this waterfall – by trail or by boat.

As you can see from this web page, I made the choice to do it by boat as the logistics and uncertainty of the long hike to get to the top of the falls wasn’t feasible.

The Case Against Hiking to Eas a’ Chual Aluinn

From my pre-trip research, I almost tried to fit in a 5th night’s stay in Inverness.

Kylesku_023_08252014 - Roadside stop where it looked like there was a trail that might have led to the top of Eas a' Chual Aluinn, but I couldn't be sure
Roadside stop where it looked like there was a trail that might have led to the top of Eas a’ Chual Aluinn, but I couldn’t be sure

This would have given me the possibility of doing a very long 13-mile out-and-back solo hike to get from the A837 road to the top of Eas a’ Chual Aluinn.

But given that I had already set out to do another long hike to Falls of Glomach, making Julie and Tahia wait another whole day without me just didn’t seem very practical.

Plus, I had been getting feedback from locals on the boat tour as well as in the literature that this was not an easy hike.

Moreover, it could also be quite dangerous as it involved scrambling around the cliff-exposed top of the falls to attain a better view.

Kylesku_344_08252014 - Looking back up towards the Kylesku Hotel from the ramp leading down to the boat
Looking back up towards the Kylesku Hotel from the ramp leading down to the boat

Regardless of whether these claims were founded or not, in the end, I ultimately decided against hiking to this waterfall.

Visiting the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn by Boat

So in the end, we managed to arrive at the Kylesku Hotel (see directions below), then wait for one of the boat tours that tended to leave every two hours (10am, 12pm, and 2pm).

We happened to join the 12pm boat since we had just missed the 10am boat tour by a few minutes.

In any case, they wouldn’t run the boat tours unless there was a minimum of 4 passengers.

Fortunately on the beautiful day that we showed up, there was way more people than that.

Kylesku_345_08252014 - Looking down at the ramp and the boat that would take us on the boat tour to experience the Eas a' Chual Aluinn Waterfall as well as the scenery around Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag
Looking down at the ramp and the boat that would take us on the boat tour to experience the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall as well as the scenery around Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag

Unfortunately, our daughter couldn’t go on the boat because they didn’t have life jackets small enough for her.

Moreover, the boat was too small to dampen out any choppiness in the loch.

So that was a real bummer, and it caused Julie to have to kill time with Tahia at the hotel’s restaurant while I went on the boat tour.

I paid about 25 pounds in cash to go on.

Description of the Boat Tour to view the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn

The boat tour began pretty much cruising about the Loch Glencoul where we spotted numerous seals (gray seals and the misnamed common seal) as well as some birds of prey that seemed to have been familiar with this boat.

Kylesku_134_08252014 - A gray seal resting besides Loch Glencoul, which was one of the wildlife sighting highlights of the boat tour
A gray seal resting besides Loch Glencoul, which was one of the wildlife sighting highlights of the boat tour

We also spotted many mussels clinging to the loch walls throughout this body of water, including some mussel collecting infrastructure.

In addition to the wildlife, we also saw a few abandoned houses or farms in the remote ends of both Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag.

Surrounding these lakes were the beautiful landscapes that were revealed to us given the rare beautiful weather we had been experiencing on the day of our tour.

As the tour continued on, we then spotted a few seemingly significant waterfalls.

Kylesku_055_08252014 - Context of some seals resting next to Loch Glencoul with some cascade tumbling in the distance as seen from the boat tour
Context of some seals resting next to Loch Glencoul with some cascade tumbling in the distance as seen from the boat tour

One of them seemed to have heavy flow as it was said to have come through a hydropower scheme before the high-flowing stream spilled into Loch Glencoul.

According to my maps, this stream might have drained the Loch an Leathaid Bhuain so that might explain why the falls flowed as well as it did.

As we got to the end of Loch Glencoul and into Loch Beag, that was when we started seeing the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall, but what surprised us was that there was a companion waterfall opposite the valley.

Although this companion waterfall didn’t quite have the volume of the more famous one across the valley, it might be fed from Loch nan Caorach so its flow might be more permanent than at first glance.

Kylesku_213_08252014 - Context of the Eas a' Chual Aluinn Waterfall on the right and some companion waterfall across from it on the left as seen from the end of Loch Beag
Context of the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall on the right and some companion waterfall across from it on the left as seen from the end of Loch Beag

Indeed, overall this was a relaxing way to experience the stunning beauty of the Assynt Parish at Glencoul.

With the combination of wildlife, landscapes, a little history, and of course waterfalls, it had all the makings of a really great family outing, especially on a beautiful day.

I’ve been told that just a week ago, the guide did a similar tour under stormier conditions, and given the relative lack of shelter in the boat, he had to stand in the rain as the rest of the paying customers crammed near the boat driver.

Nonetheless, there was no need to do the very long and arduous hike to earn a closer view of the falls though I’m sure that could’ve yielded a more intimate and closer-to-Nature experience than doing the boat tour.

Kylesku_107_08252014 - Looking towards one of the more significant-looking waterfalls on the boat tour of Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag. I suspected this one was fed by Loch An Leathaid Bhuain
Looking towards one of the more significant-looking waterfalls on the boat tour of Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag. I suspected this one was fed by Loch An Leathaid Bhuain

Now if only our daughter could have done this trip, she would’ve really enjoyed seeing all the wildlife.

Only then would I say it could very well have been the perfect spontaneous waterfall boat tour.

Authorities

The Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall resides near Kylestrome in Sutherland, Scotland. It may be administered by the Assynt Development Trust, but the boat tour was administered by the Kylesku Hotel. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit the Assynt Tourism website or the Kylesku Boat Tours website.

Kylesku_058_08252014 - Looking back towards a bridge and mountains backing Kylesku at the start of the boat tour, which traversed Loch Glencoul.  Notice the cascade tumbling beneath the mountains
Kylesku_059_08252014 - More focused look at that cascade further upslope from the vicinity around the village of Kylesku
Kylesku_068_08252014 - We noticed quite a few seals with pups on the boat tour of Loch Glencoul and Loch Beag
Kylesku_077_08252014 - Looking back at the context of the village of Kylesku as seen from Loch Glencoul
Kylesku_121_08252014 - Looking towards more houses or farms by the shores of Loch Glencoul
Kylesku_158_08252014 - We were told on the boat tour that this diagonal layer of rock essentially rewrote the geological texts at the time as a fault from great upheavals in the earth's crust caused a reshuffling of gneiss and quartzite rocks, which were contrary to the layered theory at the time
Kylesku_178_08252014 - This house dwarfed by mountains around it was said to be abandoned according to our boat tour
Kylesku_198_08252014 - Quite possibly our closest look at Eas a' Chual Aluinn against the midday sun. This also happened to be as far as the boat would go on the Loch Beag
Kylesku_207_08252014 - Another distant look at the Eas a' Chual Aluinn as the boat was bobbing on Loch Beag
Kylesku_211_08252014 - Context of the Eas a' Chual Aluinn as seen from the end of Loch Beag
Kylesku_225_08252014 - One of the birds of prey who hunt in the Loch Glencoul area. It happened to be flying at the same speed as the boat, and it was almost as if it was playing with us
Kylesku_226_08252014 - Zoomed in look at one of the remote houses around Loch Beag as seen from the boat tour
Kylesku_228_08252014 - Another distant look towards the remote Eas a' Chual Aluinn Waterfall from the end of Loch Beag
Kylesku_234_08252014 - Examining the knobby mountains surrounding Loch Beag and Loch Glencoul
Kylesku_241_08252014 - Those cluster of shells clinging to the bottoms of the rocks were mussels
Kylesku_254_08252014 - Our last look at Eas a' Chual Aluinn before we headed back out of Loch Beag
Kylesku_267_08252014 - Another look at the context of the clusters of mussels clinging to the bottoms of the shores surrounding Loch Glencoul
Kylesku_335_08252014 - More focused look at that cascade that I believe came from Loch An Leathaid Bhuain as seen from Loch Glencoul

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The boat tour encompassing the Eas a’ Chual Aluinn Waterfall began from the Kylesku Hotel in the village of Kylesku.

Driving here from Inverness involved taking the A9 towards Tore (a little over 8 miles), then taking the A835 (becoming A837) towards the A894 (about 74 miles).

Kylesku_006_08252014 - Looking back at the road leading to Kylesku from the area fronting the Kylesku Hotel
Looking back at the road leading to Kylesku from the area fronting the Kylesku Hotel

Finally, we’d follow the A894 for about 1.7 miles to the turnoff on the right for Kylesku.

The Kylesku Hotel and boat ramp was at the end of the 0.3-mile spur road.

Overall, this drive took us about 2.5 hours.

Even though I didn’t do the long hike, I did enough research (in the event that I would do the hike) to tell you that the trailhead was at a hairpin turn on the A894 just 4.1 miles north of Ardvreck Castle or 3.8 miles south of Kylesku.

Kylesku_005_08252014 - Looking across the Loch Glencoul from the front of the Kylesku Hotel
Looking across the Loch Glencoul from the front of the Kylesku Hotel

For 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.

View of the waterfall from the Loch Beag on a boat tour

Tagged with: loch assynt, kylesku, sutherland, scotland, uk, united kingdom, waterfall, highlands, unapool, loch beag, glencoul, tallest, leathaid bhuain, loch nan caorach



Visitor Comments:

Canyons and waterfalls (Eas a’ Chual Aluinn) July 25, 2016 9:36 am by Alastair G - Great report but the photograph accompanied by "This was some interesting rock formation near where I suspect the trailhead for the hard hike to Eas a' Chual Aluinn was" is about a quarter of a mile north of the start of the walk in to Eas a' Chual Aluinn. We always comment on this feature… ...Read More

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