Falls of Foyers

Foyers / Loch Ness, Scotland, UK (Great Britain)

About Falls of Foyers


Hiking Distance: 1.4 miles round trip (to views of main falls only); 1.8 miles round trip (to Loch Ness view)
Suggested Time: 60-90 minutes

Date first visited: 2014-08-27
Date last visited: 2014-08-27

Waterfall Latitude: 57.24879
Waterfall Longitude: -4.49157

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.

Foyers_049_08272014 - The Falls of Foyers
The Falls of Foyers

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.

The Heritage of the Falls of Foyers

The Falls of Foyers even inspired poems devoted to the waterfall both from cultural Scottish icon Robert Burns as well as “Scotland’s worst poet” William McGonagall.

Given how powerfully the waterfall flowed 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 of Foyers was said to have lost most of its volume from a hydropowered aluminum plant that essentially shaped the town of Foyers in 1894.

Foyers_022_08272014 - Looking at the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewpoint
Looking at the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewpoint

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.

In addition, we spotted a sign here that made us aware that apparently accessing the views of the falls was not easy back before the 1830s.

It involved a fair bit of cliff scrambling to descend to a point where the Falls of Foyers 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.”

The Falls of Foyers Experience

Foyers_037_08272014 - Julie and Tahia checking out the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewing area
Julie and Tahia checking out the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewing area

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 about ten minutes later.

Foyers_087_08272014 - Context of people checking out the Falls of Foyers from the lower viewing area
Context of people checking out the Falls of Foyers from the lower viewing area

From this vantage point, the sun was blocked by the tall vertical cliffs flanking the waterfall.

I was even able to look up towards that upper viewpoint that 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.

Extending the Falls of Foyers Experience to a View of Loch Ness

Foyers_059_08272014 - Continuing along the trail towards Lower Foyers, which kept going downhill beyond the Lower Viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers
Continuing along the trail towards Lower Foyers, which kept going downhill beyond the Lower Viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers

It turned out that the trail continued further downslope towards a Lower Falls Viewpoint.

However, I was a little confused about that signage because I couldn’t find these lower falls.

Instead, after pursuing the trail for another 30 minutes, it ultimately got me to an overlook of 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.

Foyers_013_08272014 - Julie and Tahia making their way down to the Falls of Foyers
Julie and Tahia making their way down to the Falls of Foyers

But since I was looking for the elusive Lower Falls of Foyers, I’d eventually only be able to hear but not see whatebver cascades were done here.

In hindsight, the main drop of the Falls of Foyers could very well have been the Lower Falls of Foyers.

That’s because 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.

Foyers_083_08272014 - Context of the outflow of the stream containing the Falls of Foyers as it flows beneath a pair of bridges on its way to join Loch Ness
Context of the outflow of the stream containing the Falls of Foyers as it flows beneath a pair of bridges on its way to join Loch Ness

Nevertheless, I had spent a total of 90 minutes on the trail.

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.

Authorities

The Falls of Foyers resides in Foyers in the Inverness-shire, Scotland. It may be administered by the Highland Council. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try to visit the Highland Council website.

Foyers_100_08272014 - The Waterfall Cafe opposite the B852 road from the trail to the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_007_08272014 - Looking down at a picnic table with a view towards Loch Ness in the distance as we started on the trail to the viewpoints for the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_013_08272014 - Julie and Tahia making their way down the steps towards the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_015_08272014 - 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 down
Foyers_020_08272014 - Signs at the junctions were pretty obvious and one shouldn't be lost here in pursuit of the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_027_08272014 - We spotted this beautiful butterfly near the upper viewpoint of the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_036_08272014 - Looking at the Falls of Foyers from the upper viewpoint
Foyers_043_08272014 - This was a rocky part of the narrow trail as it continued down the hill towards the lower viewpoint for the Falls of Foyers
Foyers_050_08272014 - View of the Falls of Foyers from the lower lookout
Foyers_051_08272014 - Landscape view from the lower lookout of the Falls of Foyers trying to show some of the surrounding cliff scenery
Foyers_063_08272014 - 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 sight
Foyers_071_08272014 - Encountering a sign pointing towards 'Lower Foyers Loch Ness' though I wasn't sure if this was for additional waterfalls or something completely different
Foyers_082_08272014 - 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 Ness
Foyers_096_08272014 - Somewhere on the ascent to the Waterfall Cafe in Foyers, I took a look backwards and got this pretty view towards Loch Ness

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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.

Driving to Foyers from Fort Augustus

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.

Foyers_001_08272014 - Context of the parking situation in Foyers near the Falls of Foyers and the Waterfall Cafe
Context of the parking situation in Foyers near the Falls of Foyers and the Waterfall Cafe

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.

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.

Driving to Foyers from Inverness via the B852 Road

Conversely, we could have also gone along the eastern shores of Loch Ness via the single-track B852 road from Inverness to Foyers.

Foyers_099_08272014 - Looking towards the west end of Foyers where parking for the Falls of Foyers could be a bit tricky to find
Looking towards the west end of Foyers where parking for the Falls of Foyers could be a bit tricky to find

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.

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

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Tagged with: foyers, loch ness, inverness-shire, scotland, uk, united kingdom, waterfall, loch ness, smuide, caledonian canal



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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