If you are in the Scottish highlands are you are passing through Fort William, then I urge you to stop off and make the quick, and fairly easy hike to the gorgeous Steall Falls, located within the Nevis Gorge of the Glen Nevis Valley. You’ll find a lot of people coming to this area to tackle the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis. But if you’re short on time, or just don’t like long, strenuous hikes, then the Steall Falls hike is the one for you.
What is Steall Falls?
Steall Falls, or as it is known in Gaelic ‘An Steall Bàn’, is Scotlands second highest waterfall (next to Eas a’ Chual Aluinn in Sutherland). Steall Falls boasts a single cascade drop of 120m (390ft) from the slopes of An Gearanach, flowing through the stunning landscapes of the Nevis Gorge.
Not only is Steall Falls Scotlands second highest waterfall, but it’s also the backdrop for some of Harry Potter’s most famous quidditch scenes. Triwizard Tournament anyone?
How to get to Steall Falls?
There is an onsite car park at Steall Falls (Steall Falls Upper Car Park) which you can put directly into your Sat Nav. Your Sat Nav may tell you that you have reached the destination before you actually have. The road is a dead-end so keep on going until you reach the car park (it will be very obvious when you have reached it).
It is important to note that the road to the Steall Falls car park is a narrow, single-track road with very limited passing places. If you have a larger vehicle (eg Motorhome) it is best advised that you park at the Lower Falls car park, this, however, will add quite a bit of additional time to your walk.
When to visit Steall Falls?
Next to Ben Nevis, Steall Falls is one of the most popular walks in the Fort William area. I would highly recommend coming in the offseason (October-May) to avoid the large crowds that choose to do this walk in the warmer months.
If you do decide to hike Steall Falls during peak season, I would recommend starting the hike before 9 am. The car park at Steall Falls is extremely small so you don’t want to lose out on a space.
Hiking Steall Falls
The Steall Falls walk is a 3.5km trip and will take you roughly 2 hours to walk. This hike is a friendly one, with a difficulty rating of easy to moderate.
To start the hike you will need to head to the end of the car park. You will see a map at the start of the walk so make sure to give that a quick read before you move on.
The hike to Steall Falls is uphill for most of the way, however, the incline is not too steep at all so it’s manageable.
The track is uneven and rocky, so you need to watch your footing. You also need to be extra careful when it has been raining as the rocks can become quite slippery. In the most “difficult” parts you will see that wooden steps and walkways have been placed over the rocks to aid your walking.
Once you get through the forest and the valley begins to open up the walk becomes fairly flat and the path more even.
Once you reach the end of the path you will notice that this doesn’t actually take you all the way to Steall Falls. It does, however, stop at a great viewing point for Steall Falls and a great spot to take some pictures.
At this point, you have a choice, head to the left to continue to admire Steall Falls from afar, or head to the right and tackle the Steall Falls Rope Bridge to get yourself up close and personal with the waterfall.
I would say that the word “bridge” is used quite loosely when describing the Steall Falls Bridge. Essentially it’s two thick wires at arm height for you to hold on two and one larger wire for you to walk across. And when I say walk, I mean pigeon step as if you are on a tight-rope.
Once you cross the bridge you can start walking closer to Steall Falls. There is not much of a dedicated path to the falls so prepare to potentially get very muddy!
I’ll be honest and say I chickened out and did not attempt the bridge. I chose to admire Steall Falls from afar but at least I got lots of pretty pictures ;).
What else is there to do at Steall Falls?
I’m not a lover of wild camping and did not personally do this, but I have heard from SO many other adventure travellers that Steall Falls is the perfect place to go wild camping. If you are going to wild camp it is best advised to do this in the warmer months.
This is such an incredible hike that I hope you get to do. The question is will you be brave enough to walk the rope bridge?