Walk: Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge, Highland

A spectacular two-mile walk up Glen Nevis through gorges and meadows to the epic Steall Falls

23rd November 2017
Difficulty
Moderate
Distance
2 miles
Duration
1.5 hours

Tapering south from the Highland town of Fort William, gorgeous Glen Nevis is bounded by several high, rugged mountains, including the huge bulk of Ben Nevis, which, at 1,344m (4,409ft) above sea level, is the highest point in the British Isles.

Other iconic peaks include Sgurr a’ Mhaim and Stob Ban and the glen is a playground for mountaineers, mountain bikers and white-water rafters.

However, it is a low-level, two-mile walk through the dramatic Nevis Gorge that really packs a punch and provides an unforgettable aural and visual experience. Sections of the path can be rocky and slippery but with a little care this is a superb walk, suitable for almost everyone.

Glen Nevis, Highland, Scotland
Hikers walking up Glen Nevis, Highland, Scotland ©Jake Graham

Rich with life

The gorge itself is cared for by the John Muir Trust where ancient woodland, including gorgeous stands of alder, ash, birch, elm, aspen and Scots pine cloak its slopes. This lush forest, verdant green during spring, is home to the likes of willow warblers, finches and tree pipits.

Below, the roaring waters of the River Nevis slice through the gorge, with white waterfalls tumbling over rock that has been smoothed and eroded into some amazing shapes over many millennia.

Beyond the tight confines of the gorge, the outward half of the walk culminates at the beguiling alpine glen of Steall Meadows, a beautiful spot that in spring is home to the sweet aroma and vibrant colours of many wildflowers while dippers and sandpipers flit and scuttle around the now more languid flow of the River Nevis.

White noise

However it is the magnificent An Steall (also known as Steal Falls or The White Spout) that really dominates the landscape. This thunderous waterfall (Britain’s second highest) plummets 120m from the slopes of An Gearanach into the river and is spectacular in its scale and force.

Steall Falls, Glen Nevis in Highland
Steall Falls, Glen Nevis in Highland ©Getty

All of these sights, smells and sounds means Steall Meadows, particularly on a warm spring day, is quite simply a stunning place to explore, linger and have a picnic before heading back through Nevis Gorge, once again revelling in its incredible natural features.

The Route

1. Glen to Lochan

Begin from the car park at Glen Nevis road end (NN168691), seven miles southeast of Fort William. Here the Allt Coire Eoghainn cascades some 350m down the steep southern slopes of Ben Nevis. Follow the path east into woodland, all the time climbing gradually above the amazing Steall Gorge. In due course a rockier section of path crosses a burn from where the scenic splendour continues. It narrows to run above steep slopes crossing several more streams that tumble down the hillside into the gorge below. It is a dramatic and awe-inspiring section of the route, but take care when it is wet or icy.

2. Into the valley

Cross a bridge and continue, with the path then emerging into beautiful Steall Meadows. After the confines of the wooded gorge this open space is even more unexpected. Ahead is the spectacular An Steall.  The outward-bound route can either end here or you can try and negotiate the infamous wire bridge or continue on to reach Steall Ruin, which dates from the 1700s and was used by shepherds as recently as the 1940s.

3. A spectacular ridge

Carefully retrace steps back to the car park, enjoying the superb views of Glen Nevis and the slopes of Ben Nevis.

 

Discover more great walks in Scotland here.

Main image ©Jake Graham

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