Falls of Bruar

By Colin Hogarth

Hike up the Bruar Water in Perthshire and you'll be following a route trod by such luminaries of the literary world as Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. They came to be inspired by the spectacular waterfalls, dramatically steep ravine and lush woodlands. Whether you choose to write poetry or simply fill your lungs with fresh Highland air, this easy circuit to the Upper Falls of Bruar is thrilling at any time of the year.

Leave the car park, head back out of the entrance to the House of Bruar on to the road, bear left, passing below the centre's flagpoles, then turn left along the back of the building, following a sign for Falls of Bruar.

A track skirts north between the building and the Bruar Water, down to the left. Pass through a gate and the path rises gently to a narrow underpass beneath the Perth to Inverness railway line. Go through a gate when you emerge from this short tunnel and the way climbs steadily through tall Scots Pine trees, following the Bruar Water upstream.

The path is a good solid one, but stout footwear is recommended as it can be a touch muddy and rough in places. Higher up the path meets a fence on the right where there are good views over the Lower Falls. A set of wooden steps descends beyond this point and, a short way on, a bridge on the right crosses the river.

Don't go over at this point but do make the short detour to a natural arch - just short of the bridge - which leads through the rock to a wonderful wee viewpoint above a deep pool of water, a tumbling fan of white froth disturbing the otherwise tranquil scene.

Return to the path and continue up the left side of the river as the way rises above the Middle Falls, the turbulent water squeezing down between the steep, dark rocks, vegetation hanging heavy over the narrow gorge. The falls are at their most impressive after heavy rain.

The path meanders up through trees and shrubbery, crossing a small tributary as height continues to be gained. The drop to the left becomes increasingly long and steep and care should be taken, particularly with children and dogs.
In due course the way levels off and descends to an arched stone bridge spanning the spectacular Upper Falls. Both the bridges on this route, and the path, date from the late 18th century when the plantations of Scots Pine and European Larch were laid out by the Duke of Atholl. From this high parapet, leafy views open out down the valley towards Glen Garry, now seemingly far below.

Across the bridge, the path curves left and then right, climbing past a picnic area with wooden benches - a great spot for a break now the uphill section of the walk is well and truly over.

The path, bronzed with fallen pine needles, stays with the river as it descends, now on the east side of the Bruar Water. Some of the best views over the Upper Falls are to be had on this section of the walk.

Further down, the way emerges from the trees on to the hairpin bend of a forest track. Don't leave the path at this point - stay with it as, beyond another wooden bench, it passes through a high gate. Follow the wooden fence down to a junction and bear right here for the short detour to a rather exposed viewpoint.

Retrace steps to the junction and follow the path down to the lower bridge passed earlier in the day. Cross over and retrace your steps to the start.


Distance 1 mile/1.6km.
Map OS Landranger sheet 43.
Start House of Bruar, three miles west of Blair Atholl. GR: NN 822659.
Parking Large free car park and picnic area behind House of Bruar. This can be reached by either following the B8079 west from Blair Atholl, or the A9 (House of Bruar is well signed from the A9).
Grading A short, easy walk for all the family with a good path throughout. Stout footwear is recommended. There are some steep drops, so care should be taken, particularly with children and dogs.

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