About Mealt Falls
Mealt Falls was certainly one of those waterfalls with that “Wow!” factor as it had a lot going for it, especially in light of the fact that we made our visit on a near perfect weather day. Not only did this roughly 55m waterfall prominently plunge from the sea cliffs right into the Sound of Raasay (itself part of a larger body of water connected to the Atlantic Ocean called The Minch), but it was also backed by the eccentric 90m Kilt Rock formation, which apparently beared a striking resemblance to a Scottish kilt. Generally, waterfalls plunging into the sea tend to be very scenic and fairly rare in the world (some dramatic examples include McWay Falls and Ketubjorg), but when you combine the fine natural scenery of the Isle of Skye along with the shapely sea cliffs here, we just had to give this waterfall its props. In fact, this could very well have been Julie’s favorite waterfall on our 2014 trip throughout Great Britain!
Mealt Falls was so named because it was fed by a freshwater lake called Loch Mealt. When I took photos towards a body of water that was reflecting some of the attractive landscape looking further inland, little did I realize that I was indeed looking at the Loch Mealt. So by virtue of the falls being fed by this fairly large loch, I’d imagine this waterfall would also tend to have pretty reliable flow.
While on the topic of nomenclature, we were aware that this part of the Scottish Highlands still had a fair bit of the population speak the Scottish Gaelic (though I could see how the language had suffered from a steady decline since Scotland’s absorption into the United Kingdom). Yet, apparently only the Kilt Rock seemed to have a well-publicized Scottish Gaelic name – Creag an Fheilidh. I wasn’t able to find a Gaelic name for Mealt Falls, though if I had to guess, it might be Eas Mealt. Anyways, the 10th century Vikings named this area Staffin (from the Old Norse word stafr for pillars) referring to the basalt columns of the cliffs that has earned Kilt Rock its name these days. According to a sign here, a very extensive collection of dinosaur remains have also been found on the Jurassic rocks along this coast.
As for our visit, walking to the overlook of both the falls and the Kilt Rock couldn’t have been easier. Basically from the well-signed car park (between Loch Mealt and the dramatic sea cliffs), we walked a few paces to the fenced overlook clinging onto the sea cliffs with the awesome scene of Mealt Falls spilling into the sea before Kilt Rock (as shown above). There pretty much wasn’t a different way to see the falls as the best views were confined to a small area (maybe room for two or three people to get the view cleanly) despite the fact that there was a lot more space in the general overview area along the edges of the sea cliffs dropping suddenly into the sea below.
As we walked alongside the general overlook area away from the falls and towards the southern cliffs, we could see even more impressive sea cliff formations though after seeing Mealt Falls and Kilt Rock, it’s hard not to be lukewarm to them even though the other scenery itself was pretty dramatic in its own right. This lukewarm reaction might have also been exacerbated by some flooding that occurred when this area of Scotland got hit pretty hard with some nasty storms that lashed the area earlier in August. So that kind of made some of the choice viewing areas to the south either off-limits or required wading in a puddle that was shin deep.
Finally, there had been some confusion regarding this waterfall and another one called Lealt Falls. To be clear, this waterfall was not called Lealt Falls, because we saw signs while driving the A855 road pointing the way towards Lealt Falls from further south closer to Portree (near the trailhead area for Old Man Storr). Indeed, Lealt Falls was a totally different waterfall, and after looking through the literature post mortem, I’m wondering if we messed up by not stopping for it as it looked scenically alluring in its own right. As always, hindsight’s 20/20, but perhaps one of these days we might be lucky enough to spend more time in the Isle of Skye on a return visit, and if that happens, I’m sure we’ll make it a point to spend time at Lealt Falls.
Mealt Falls was actually part of the well-signed Kilt Rock View. This was about 15 miles north of the town of Portree on the east coast of the Isle of Skye (roughly 10 miles north of the Bride’s Veil Waterfall and the Old Man Storr). The signposted car park was on the right side.
To get to Portree from Inverness (where we were based at during our Highlands portion of the trip), we had to drive the A82 west then south along the northern shore of Loch Ness for about 27 miles towards Glenmoriston. We then left the A82 and followed the A887 for the next 15 miles before turning right once again to go onto the A87. Then, we followed the A87 for the next 71 miles or so into the town of Portree, where we then continued north for the aforementioned 15 miles to get to the Kilt Rock view.
During the long stretch of driving on the A87, keep an eye out for the beautiful Eilean Donan (pronounced like “ELL-un-DOH-nun”) Castle at about the 28th mile after leaving the A887, and the long bridge to the Isle of Skye at the Kyle of Lochalsh at almost the 37th mile. This long drive took us about 3 hours with some traffic (again because you’re dealing with mostly two-lane highways in opposite directions with very few opportunities to pass slower vehicles).
Finally, for some additional 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.
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