The River Foyers feeds Loch Ness in the Highlands and it’s a very popular destination for those on barge holidays in Scotland. |
Well, apart from the sheer natural beauty of the whole area, the river is famous for its waterfall. It cascades around 165 feet or roughly 50 metres and has inspired artists and poets for centuries.
However, there’s a little more to the story of the Falls of Foyers than at first meets the eye.
An Industrial Landscape
Today we see the Highlands as being largely a deserted wilderness – arguably the last one in Western Europe. Yet even long after the highland clearances, the landscape was far more populated with businesses and small communities than we see today.
Foyers sits on the relatively little-known eastern side of Loch Ness. This was originally the site of the military road built by General Wade after the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion but today his road is now a minor ‘B’ road and the main road proper sits on the western shore of the Loch on the same side as Urquhart Castle.
This is relevant because today Foyers at first glance looks a small village, albeit larger than one might expect, yet in the 19th century it was much more on the ‘beaten track’ than today. That, coupled with the huge amounts of water available courtesy of the river and its falls, gave birth to the idea in the latter 19th century of a local hydro-electric plant to power an aluminium smelting works at Foyers.
As some of the guides on any of our barge holidays in Scotland will be happy to explain in more detail, the resulting North British Aluminium Company’s plant functioned well but almost immediately ran into logistical trouble and quickly recognised that their main efforts needed to be concentrated somewhere closer to a coastal port.
The plant did continue some form of life until 1967 but the hydro-electric generation continued and today it generates electricity for the National Grid.
Visiting the falls
If you’re fortunate enough to find barge holidays in Scotland that offer the falls as an excursion, don’t miss the chance because they’re beautiful and spectacular. You might also get the chance to see some of the local wildlife on your way.
The pathway up to the heights starts just behind the picturesque local post office. The path is good but moderately steep and is probably best seen as being unsuitable for the infirm or those with limited mobility.
Once there, you’ll find not only the falls but also a surprisingly large cluster of housing which shows just how occupied and ‘busy’ this area once was and to some extent, remains today.
As always when exploring in highland Scotland, remember to put on good sturdy and waterproof walking shoes. Even when the weather is fine and the forecast likewise, it might be prudent to take a light waterproof coat with you too. Even the locals don’t always get it right when trying to second-guess the weather here!
All in all, a visit to the Falls of Foyers is well worth undertaking on barge holidays in Scotland. It’s a little uphill walk for sure but you’ll love it once you get there.
Paul Newman is the Marketing and E-Systems Executive for European Waterways, the UK's most respected provider of all-inclusive, luxury barge holidays in Scotland. Part of a team of experienced barging aficionados, Paul is first in line to endorse the perks of a slow-paced barge cruise to anyone looking for a unique holiday experience.
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