About Falls of Glomach
The Falls of Glomach (perhaps Eas a’ Ghlomaich in Gaelic?; maybe pronounced “es-a-GLO-makh”; meaning gloomy falls) had to have been one of those waterfalls that I needed to earn with a bit of an adventure.
Not only did I have to partake in a long and nearly all-day hike full of hazards and obstacles, but the variable weather in Scotland also meant that I had to be both flexible and fully prepared to make this visit happen.
Indeed, this was one place where I wouldn’t want to be doing this hike in misty or rainy weather with poor visibility.
Planning for Uncertainty in the Weather
Logistically speaking, to handle the weather variability, we took advantage of the fact that we were staying for several days in Inverness.
So that meant I would have to drive nearly two hours just to even get to the trailhead.
But at least I could afford to wait for good weather before seizing the opportunity to do this hike.
Indeed, just seeing this remote waterfall with my very own eyes was far from a sure thing.
Yet perhaps that’s what also made this hike one of the most (if not the most) memorable experiences throughout our four-week trip to Great Britain (let alone Scotland) in 2014.
The Draw of the Falls of Glomach
So besides the adventure to get here, what was it about this waterfall that was so compelling to visit?
Why even go through that much trouble in the first place?
Well for starters, this was one of the tallest waterfalls throughout Britain at a reported 113m or 371ft.
Now while that height figure alone wouldn’t be enough to impress our jaded waterfalling tastes (it wasn’t even the tallest waterfall in the country), it had other things going for it.
Namely, I believe it was its remote setting deep in the northwestern highlands of Scotland that made me feel like I was truly in a special place fit for an excursion and reward like this.
After all, these highlands were dominated by hauntingly forbidding moors, deep and seemingly inaccessible gorges and valleys, and tall weather-worn mountains with their wrinkled gullies.
All of these features could be seen in person on the long hike to get here.
This kind of Naturesque experience was very rare in Great Britain where most of the land was developed, grazed, owned, or just exploited.
And the moment I alone was fortunate to have a late lunch in front the Falls of Glomach and its cliff-exposed lookout, that was when I knew I could zen out and let Nature clear my mind and remind me of what was really important in the world.
A Couple Different Starting Points for the Falls of Glomach
The way I did this hike was actually not the official way the authorities wanted me to do it from the Morvich Car Park (see directions below).
It turned out that I followed a National Trust website suggesting that I could do a shorter hike from the Dorusduain Car Park roughly 2 miles from the Morvich Car Park.
What I found out later in the field was that the road to Dorusduain went through a private farm.
So while it appeared that the car park was still there and used by people in the know, it could also be cut off by a simple act of the landowner deciding to close the gate on his property.
That would thereby cut off the road leading the rest of the way to Dorusduain Car Park.
So I’m going to describe the 8-mile round trip hike from the Dorusduain Car Park since that’s how I did it.
I don’t know where some of the literature out there got the idea that the hike was only 2.5 miles in each direction because it’s not.
Anyways, if one were to do the official route from Morvich, then the overall hike would be more like 12- to 13 miles instead of the 8 miles that I did.
I ended up spending about 5.5 hours to do just the eight miles, but I’d imagine this could easily be a full eight-hour hike to go the full distance from Morvich.
My Adventure to the Falls of Glomach – From Dorusduain to the Moors
From the humble Dorusduain Car Park, I went uphill on an unpaved road past the red sign and eventually up to some sheep gates.
Then, aided by a few strategically placed directional signs, I continued on the road-turned-trail through some sheep pastures.
These pastures were surrounded by some impressive mountains of the valleys cut forth by both the Abhain Chonaig and Allt Choinneachain (both Gaelic names for the streams responsible for these valleys).
As the trail descended then ascended beyond the pasture to the north, I noticed an impressively tall but thin cascade off to the side to my left about 30 minutes from the car park.
Eventually, this part of the trail would descend to a footbridge spanning a side creek (possibly called Allt an Leoid Ghaineamhaich in Gaelic).
The stream came from a valley (which turned out to be the same valley I was about to hike into) before beginning a steep and persistently long climb to rise up above this valley.
The climb would continue until the trail eventually reached the head of this valley, which then began a stretch of traversing an expanse of barren tundra-like moors.
This long stretch of climbing dominated the next hour or so of hiking.
Along the way, I observed the wrinkling of the neighboring mountains flanking the valley, which attested to how rainy it gets here.
After all, these wrinkles were undoubtedly water gullies channeling the rain to the creek below.
To further keep my mind occupied, I noticed side cascades across the valley within some of these wrinkles.
This included a Y-shaped cascade near the valley’s head that looked interesting but turned out to be nothing compared to what was further ahead.
Once I got up into the moors (also called a bealach in these parts or more formally the Bealach na Sroine or “pass of the nose”), I was surrounded by mostly muddy grasslands.
Cairns were set up alongside the trail to help ensure that I would stay on the trail.
As I got to the apex of the elevation gain on the hike (just under 2 hours from the car park), that was when I could start seeing hidden valleys further below.
I knew one of these valleys contained the Falls of Glomach.
The air was refreshingly cool up here as there was a breeze that was largely absent when I was hiking in the valley earlier on.
In fact, there was also the odd persistent midge trying to get into my eyes, ears, or nose, or perhaps even trying to get a bite out of me.
It turned out that my 100% DEET worked ok against these guys since they didn’t bother me as much once I had it applied.
My Adventure to the Falls of Glomach – Descent to the Falls View
At about 20 minutes from the apex of the elevation gain, the trail then descended steeply as it entered the next valley cut forth by the Allt a’Ghlomaich.
This stream turned out to be the one responsible for the Falls of Glomach.
Once I made it down to the bottom of this descent, the trail then degenerated into a muddy scramble across a grassy bog as the trail became less defined.
That said, I knew where the Falls of Glomach was as I could hear it from further downstream, and I knew the trail would take me to the top of it.
So once I got past the muddy scramble sections, I regained the trail near the top of the falls.
Then, I continued following the narrow and now steep trail alongside the cliffs as it carefully switchbacked its way further down the cliffs.
It was at this point that I frequently stopped to take pictures while marveling at the raw beauty of the place.
While the bottom of the falls could not be seen from any of the first few vantage points I encountered, I was able to capture the setting that the falls was in.
Basically, the views I could get so far had revealed a hint of the cliffs and mountains closing in on the Allt a’Ghlomaich suddenly dropping into an abyss.
After passing by what I counted to be the first three views of the Falls of Glomach, the trail continued to descend steeply towards the last pair of unofficial lookouts.
It turned out that none of these views provided a full look at the waterfall because it was too tall to capture in one go from so close.
Nevertheless, at the last of the precarious rocky outcrops where I felt safe enough to enjoy the Falls of Glomach, I was able to enjoy peering down at most of its entire drop.
Given the dropoff exposure here, I definitely had that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling.
While photographs couldn’t capture all of the tall and twisting multi-tiered waterfall in one frame, I did take some videos to better convey its forbidding yet alluring scenery.
This was my turnaround point of the hike, and it took me about 3 hours to get here.
After having my late lunch while zenning out to the falls and the scenery before me, I finally made the arduous and steep climb back out of this gorge.
I still had to go back across the muddy bog above the falls, then up the long and steep climb back up into the moors or bealach on the way back.
But once I passed the moors and re-entered the valley I had climbed out of on the way in, it was pretty much mostly downhill the rest of the way.
Overall, this hike took me a little over 2 hours to return to the car park from the Falls of Glomach, which was faster than on the way to the waterfall.
I was definitely able to go faster on this return hike given the mostly downhill terrain (especially after the hard initial climb), but knowing where I had been previously also helped with my navigation to speed things up.
The Falls of Glomach resides near Morvich in Ross-shire, Scotland. It may be administered by the National Trust for Scotland, but the trail does go by stretches of private property. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, you can try to visit the National Trust website.
Given the logistical advantages (mostly flexibility with the weather) of driving to the Falls of Glomach from Inverness, I will describe the driving directions from there.
First, I took the A82 west then south along the northern shore of Loch Ness for about 27 miles towards Glenmoriston.
I then left the A82 and followed the A887 for the next 15 miles before turning right once again to go onto the A87.
Then, I followed the A87 for the next 22 miles or so before there was a signposted turnoff to the right for the Morvich Car Park (there was a Falls of Glomach sign as well, I believe) inland from the Loch Duich.
From this turnoff, it was another 1.2 miles of single-lane road to get to the village of Morvich and the official car park to start the Falls of Glomach hike.
This was the sanctioned (or easier to access) of the trailheads for Falls of Glomach, but it also meant a longer hike (about 12 miles round trip).
Back on the A87, I actually went another 0.8 miles beyond the Morvich turnoff to the obscure single-lane Dorusduain Road.
I then followed that road for the last 2.3 miles (veering left at the fork at 0.8 miles then passing through what appeared to be private land).
The car park was basically a small and humble space with a red sign indicating that the falls was 4 miles walk from here.
The road kept going past this clearing, but it became grassy and rougher so I didn’t push my luck with the rental car to keep going from here.
Overall, this entire drive took me about 1 hr 40 minutes.
However, I’m sure this would depend on how much traffic there’d be on the two-lane roads to get here since there were very limited opportunities to pass slower moving vehicles.
Finally for some geographical context, the Kyle of Lochalsh, which was like the gateway town to the Isle of Skye, was 15 miles (about 30 minutes drive) west of Morvich (passing by the beautiful Eilean Donan Castle en route). Kyle of Lochalsh was also 79 miles (about 2 hours drive) southwest of Inverness, 74 miles (under 2 hours drive) north of Fort William, 183 miles (over 4 hours drive) northwest of Glasgow, and 200 miles (4.5 hours drive) northwest of Edinburgh.
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