Watch Salmon leap upstream!
Take time to explore the interior of the North Coast 500 – the Falls of Shin Visitor Attraction is a delightful detour into the heart of Sutherland.We spoke to Kirstin from the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust to find out more about this special natural phenomenon!
Follow the winding road up through Achany Glen, alongside the meandering River Shin to a clearing in the pine forest where the majestic Atlantic salmon leap up the thundering falls in a valiant attempt to reach their birthplace!
Every year throughout the summer months (between May – September) the salmon return from the open sea to spawn. They have swum up the Dornoch Firth and the Kyle of Sutherland to return to the river that they themselves were spawned in. However in order to get to their birthplace in the upper reaches of the River Shin they have to pass the torrent of water at the falls. They leap against the current, often jumping completely out of the water. Some make it first time and are able to continue their journey while others have to try over and over again.
Visitor Centre & Mac and Wild Restaurant
Despite its setting in an ancient woodland, the Falls of Shin venue has cutting edge architecture. After the original building (which had been owned by former Harrods Boss Al Fayed) was destroyed in a fire in 2013; the Falls of Shin reopened in May 2017 to much acclaim. Now under the ownership of local charity the Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust; the attraction has a range of new features for visitors to enjoy. The unique building is based on the concept of a leaping salmon, inspired by the fish regularly seen at the falls.
The spectacular tail sculpture framing the trellis walkway has become a focal point for visitors to take photographs and selfies. This leads people to the toilets which has been designed in the shape of a salmon’s head to complete the theme. On the 28th June 2018, London’s favourite Scottish restaurant Mac & Wild opened their third restaurant within the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre. Taking Mac & Wild back to its Highland roots, where their story first began! Mac & Wild continue to showcase the very best of Scottish produce and suppliers.
In addition to the new children’s play park, crazy golf, and picnic area; improvements have also been made to the path accessing the viewing platform over the falls where people gather to watch the spectacle and gasp in wonder as the salmon battle against the force of the water.
In the surrounding woodland, paths and walking routes have been created by the Forestry Commission for visitors to explore and spot the wildlife. Some of the trails have games to keep the children amused too!
Falls of Shin was shortlisted for a Scottish Rural Award 2018 and has won a Scottish RICS Awards 2018 in the Tourism and Leisure category. http://www.kyleofsutherlanddevelopmenttrust.org/falls-of-shin-visitor-attraction/
Accommodation and local eateries close by
Set up base and explore the North Coast 500! You can access the NC500 route from various points within the main NC500 route. Did you know you are 40 minutes from both the west and east coast! There is so much to discover, take time to explore the less travelled interior!
- The Invershin Hotel – close to the Falls of Shin and the ideal place to stay and explore further. Arrange a picnic with the hotel and enjoy the many picturesque walks around the surrounding area. Meet like minded NC500 travellers venturing off route, enjoy unplanned and spontaneous live music sessions (usually on a Friday though) and a selection of hearty highland meals.
- Invercassley Cottage B&B – is the perfect Highland retreat, situated in the village of Rosehall, the delightful cottage is a converted traditional Scottish croft, previously lived in by a shepherd from the estate. It is thought to be over 200 years old – they also offer full day and morning and early evening landrover safaris
- Ceol Mor B&B – a hideaway in the hills! Ceol Mor B&B offer luxury B&B accommodation with views over the Kyle of Sutherland. There is abundant wildlife – you can often see deer and birds of prey from the house!
- Arda Glamping – a glamping experience near Bonar Bridge, choose between their a converted vintage horse trailer or a magical getaway in their newly hand built wooded hut.