By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 3rd May 2018

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!

Photo: Alister Kemp, Salmon leaping

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.

Photo: Falls Shin Visitor Centre

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.

Photo: Falls of Shin Visitor Centre, Forest Walks

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!


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