The Falls of Bruar were a series of at least three pretty significant waterfalls (at least that’s how many we counted) each with a distinct character all their own. The cumulative height of all the main waterfalls combined was said to be 60m. The stream responsible for these waterfalls, the Bruar Water, were said to have been immortalized in a poem by Robert Burns in a work titled, “The Humble Petition of Bruar Water to the Noble Duke of Atholl,” where Burns implored the landowner (the 4th Duke of Atholl) to plant trees along the banks of the stream to improve the scenery. Whether it was the Burns-induced heritage that made this place feel different from other waterfall excursions we’d been on, I wasn’t sure.
Perhaps the thing that was a bit unusual about this waterfalling excursion was that our hike began behind the House of Bruar, which turned out to be like a shopping outlet selling souvenirs, sweets, and even fresh farm produce! It was said to be Scotland’s most prestigious independent store though we totally stumbled upon this by accident and really have no sense of its notoriety or importance. That said, there was no doubt that this place was packed with people from tour groups arriving in buses to holidaymakers driving in their own family cars. The fact that we could combine an unexpected shopping trip with a nature hike had to have made this one of the more unusual venues to do a waterfalling excursion.
In short, the three main waterfalls that we encountered could be summarized in the following way. The lowermost of the falls was a short waterfall tumbling beneath an attractive stone bridge. What made this waterfall stand out, however, was that there was a small natural bridge just downstream of it making it one of those rare waterfalls where you can combine a waterfall sighting with a natural span sighting. The next waterfall in the series was an attractive three-tiered cascade a short distance upstream of the Lower Falls of Bruar. Finally, the last of the waterfalls was the Upper Falls of Bruar, which was the tallest and the least accessible of the waterfalls.
From the large car park across the busy B8079 road from the House of Bruar (see directions below), we then crossed the road and walked towards the Bruar Water Stream (being mindful to keep off the grass as the signs were imploring). Then, we followed the short driveway which became a trail as it was sandwiched between the House of Bruar infrastructure and the Bruar Water Stream itself. After 15 minutes of hiking from the House of Bruar (crossing under a short arched bridge that felt more like a tunnel), we’d eventually get to an overlook area with a view of the Lower Falls of Bruar, the natural bridge below it, and the stone footbridge above it.
A few paces further along the trail just past the stone footbridge, there was a small archway leading to a romantic overlook of the next cascade series (pictured at the top of this page) that I’m dubbing the Middle Falls of Bruar. In addition to the overlook beneath the archway, I was also able to stand on the archway itself for a slightly higher angled view of the same cascade. It was also possible to stand on the stone footbridge and look upstream for yet another look at this attractive series of falls. It seemed like most of the activity on the trail took place around this bridge probably because the Bruar Water was at its most accessible. That said, we definitely had to be cautious around the stream because getting swept downstream over the waterfalls amongst the jagged rocks here would most certainly be fatal.
We then continued hiking further upstream to the left of the stream (so we’d end up doing the long loop in a clockwise direction). The hike generally climbed uphill as we found ourselves well above the Bruar Water itself. The trail was mostly a wide dirt path so it was prone to a few muddy patches given the amount of rain that Scotland had been battered with prior to our arrival. Still, after about 25 more minutes of hiking, we’d make it down to the bridge above the Upper Falls of Bruar. Unfortunately, to this point, we never were able to get a clean look at that waterfall. However, we did get nice views downstream from the bridge itself.
So we had to continue hiking downhill from the other side of the Bruar Water to continue the loop hike, and it was only after another 10 minutes or so did we reach a downhill stretch where there was a bench with a distant and overgrown look at the Upper Falls of Bruar. This was probably our most satisfying view of the tallest of the Falls of Bruar, but it still left us wanting more as the view was hampered by quite a bit of overgrowth making the falls appear smaller than it really was. There was a trail junction further downhill where there was a sign warning the path going back in the upstream direction was dangerous. I didn’t pursue going much further than the sign, but I wondered if that spur trail would’ve yielded a less obstructed view of the Upper Falls of Bruar.
After about 90 minutes on the trail, we made it back to the bridge above the Lower Falls of Bruar. Now, there was significantly more activity going on, and some of this was due in part because there was a large group of abseilers who were rappeling below the Lower Falls and even swimming beneath the natural bridge below it! Ten minutes later, we found ourselves back at the House of Bruar where we made a final restroom break with the odd souvenir shopping before returning to our parked car just as another round of squally rains showed up (attesting to the three-seasons-in-a-day weather we had been experiencing in Scotland to this point).
From Pitlochry, drive about 9.5 miles west on the A9 towards the House of Bruar (passing by Blair Castle near Blair Atholl along the way). There was a signposted turnoff on the right leading onto the B8079 road, where immediately after the turnoff was a very large car park fronting the House of Bruar. I didn’t recall there being any pay and display charges here. This drive took about 15-20 minutes.
To get to Pitlochry from Perth, drive about 28 miles north on the A9. This drive would probably take around an hour. To get to Pitlochry from Inverness, drive about 86 miles south on the A9. This drive would take a solid 90-120 minutes, especially since it’s pretty much two lanes in opposite directions almost the entire way so passing opportunities are very limited.
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