Fairy Glen Falls Rosemarkie

Written by Chris Thornton | 15th of August 2022
Fairy Glen Falls

The Fairy Glen Falls is a short walk (1.5 miles) near the village of Rosemarkie that passes through magical broadleaf woodland with a babbling brook following the main path to not one but two beautiful waterfalls.

My family and I were on our way to Grannies Heilan Hame. We couldn't check in until 4 pm, so we decided to take a detour and spend the afternoon at the Fairy Glen Falls; this was an excellent way to kill some time.

Travelling up the A9, we took a right on the Tore roundabout along the A832. We noted Wildwoodz Adventure Park and the Clootie Well for a future visit to the Black Isle. Travelling through Avoch and Fortrose, we finally came to Rosemarkie and, a short distance further, the Fairy Glen Falls car park.

Free parking at Fairy Glen Falls car park.
Limited space at the busy car park for the walk.

Fairy Glen Falls trail head car park

We pulled into the fairly busy car park, it has space for about 20 cars, but we were lucky to grab a space as someone was pulling out. There was no charge for the car park; there were signs up saying no overnight parking. There is a stand to leave your bicycles safely.

Signposts mark the way to the Fairy Glen.

Sign near Bridge St.
Sign showing the way to the fairy glen path.

RSPB Fairy Glen

The walk initially takes you down a path alongside the Rosemarkie Burn. We saw local kids having great fun playing on a rope swing on the other side.

Crossing under the road bridge, the track actually goes up into a proper cement path before you reach the start of the Fairy Glen walk.

Going under the roadbridge over the Rosemarkie Burn.
Walking under the road bridge next to the Rosemarkie Burn.
 
Forest walk.
Enroute to the start of the walk.
 
Short path to the start of the glen walk.
Short concrete path near the start of the fairy walk.

The Fairy Glen Walk

It's easy to see why this is called the Fairy Glen Walk; there is definitely magic in the air as you walk through this hidden glen. The smell of fresh air and the sound of water gently flowing by as you walk is very relaxing.

Boardwalk on the fairy walk.
The boardwalk at the start of the fairy walk.

There was a lot of diversity in the walk; sometimes, wooden bridges will take you to the next section, fallen trees over the glittering stream provided interest, and the steep-sided reserve make you feel like you have been transported to another realm.

The hidden glen, beautifully carpeted with wild flowers.
Dirt tracks to the waterfalls.
 
Fallen tree, Rosemarkie Burn.
Fallen trees criss cross the burn.
 
Bridge over Rosemarkie Burn.
One of the little bridges throughout the walk.

We came upon an information board with interesting facts about RSPB Fairy Glen. A lady making her way back said she had given up on the walk as it was too long! That didn't fill us with confidence, but we soldiered on.

Fairy Glen Falls information board.
Information board near the start of the walk.
 
Path at Rosemarkie Burn.
Rosemarkie Burn follows the path throughout the walk.

The Mill Pond

The first major area of interest is the Mill Pond, just under halfway along the walk. This was a pleasant area of still water, with a viewing platform built over the water. We saw ducks here and a grey heron stalking fish over the still waters.

We also saw buzzards circling overhead, or I presumed they were buzzards as mentioned on the information board.

Continuing our walk followed the winding footpath along the sides of the valley; the path crosses bridges in multiple areas, a charming trek through the magical broadleaf woodland.

The Mill Pond, Fairy Glen Walk.
My girls looking out onto the Mill Pond.
 
Fairy Glen Waterfalls
The forest path beckons.
 
Fairy Glen Falls Inverness
Olivia posing next to one of the many fallen trees.
 
Fairy Glen Inverness
Another bridge on this picturesque walk.
 
Fairy Glen Rosemarkie
An example of the steps on the walk.

The Lower Falls

Arriving at the first waterfall, the magic seemed to increase; this grotto looked like the perfect place for fairies. The waterfall cascades down rocks to the left, but a stronger stream falls to the right. The pool below the falls is cool and shallow and almost glows under the dappled light below the leafy canopy. I regretted not taking my tripod and ND filter for some long-exposure photos!

It reminded me of a fairy fountain from the Legend of Zelda series for all you gamers out there.

Skipping over the information board mentioned earlier, I didn't realise there were two waterfalls here at the Fairy Glen... a steep stairway beckons you higher to the left of the lower falls.

There were two waterfalls, an added bonus.
The lower falls, a really lovely waterfall.
 
The lower falls on the Rosemarkie Burn.
Side view of the lower falls.
 
Fairy Falls
Showing more of the area around the lower falls.
 
Fairy Glen RSBP
Looking down on the lower falls.

The Upper Falls

To my surprise, there was an even more impressive waterfall just a short distance past the first. This waterfall is in a more open area and has a wooden bridge which gives an excellent vantage point.

I noted the bridge led to the road above; perhaps this would be a good shortcut if you just wanted to see the falls and not do the entire walk, but I did not investigate this path.

We went down to the side of the falls for some closer photos and selfies.

 
Upper falls main view
Main view oof the upper falls.
 
Wide angle of upper falls at Rosemarkie Burn.
Wide angle shot of the upper falls.
 
Observation bridge at Fairy Glen.
The bridge overlooking the falls, and to the road above.
 
Upper falls, right side.
Close up of right hand section of the upper falls.
 
Upper falls, side view.
Side view of the upper falls.
 
Family photo at fairy glen.
My family on the bridge as seen from the upper falls.

Heading home

After spending some time at the second waterfall, we backtracked along the same path to the car park. I had a feeling the kids would sleep well tonight after their adventure to the falls.

Fairy Glen Scotland
Heading back along the path to the lower falls.
 
Heading home!
Down the steps to the lower falls.

Fairy Glen Falls videos

Here are a few videos from our visit to the Fairy Glen Falls.

Lower falls.
 
Lower falls and area.
 
Upper falls.
 
Upper falls and area.
 
Upper falls, including bridge.
 
Standing next to the upper falls.
 

What wildlife can be seen at RSPB Fairy Glen?

As the reserve is for birds, the four main species to look out for are:

  • Song thrush

  • Bullfinch

  • Spotted flycatcher

  • Long-tailed tit

  • Dipper

  • Buzzard

Wildflowers can also be seen at different times of the year:

  • Lesser celandine

  • Primrose

  • Wood sorrel

  • Wood anemone

  • Bluebell

  • Water avens

  • Sweet cicely

  • Meadowsweet

Roe deer can be seen in the winter months and are easier to spot amongst the bare beech, ash, rowan and oak trees.

Why is it called the Fairy Glen Falls?

It's said that long ago, children would decorate the spring near the falls with wildflowers as a tribute to the fairies to keep the waters clean for drinking and washing. Even if there's no truth to that story, you can see why it would be named after fairies; the glen is so magical.

How difficult is the Fairy Glen Falls walk?

If you are a person of low to moderate fitness, you will find this to be an easy walk. It doesn't feel like 1.5 miles; there is so much beauty to keep your mind off sore legs.

Is Fairy Glen Falls suitable for disabled visitors?

Unfortunately not, the path is not suitable for wheelchairs. The path can be muddy and has steep sections and stairs. If you can only walk short distances, you access the walk via the north side, you will start right at the best waterfall, but you will need to descend some steps and there is no easy parking at the top.

Are there public toilets at Fairy Glen Falls?

No, but Rosemarkie has public toilets a short distance away.

What is there to see near Fairy Glen Falls?

  • There is a beautiful beach at Rosemarkie with a great cafe.

  • Chanonry Point is 2 miles to the south of the falls; this is one of the best places to see dolphins in Scotland.

  • Wildwoodz Adventure Park

  • Redcastle

  • Macfarquhar's Bed

  • Clootie Well

  • Fortrose Cathedral

Conclusion

We loved our visit to Fairy Glen Falls, it was a little out of the way for us on our journey north, but it was well worth the detour. This would make a fantastic place to visit all year round on your trip along the NC500.

Fairy Glen Falls location map

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