• Swimming

Top secret waterfalls in Scotland for wild swimming

By Kimberley Grant

Published on 6 min read


Great hidden wild swimming holes in Scotland

Kimberley Grant, author of Wild Guide Scotland, reveals her top 5 favourite hidden waterfalls in Scotland for wild swimming. From the deep pool at Feshiebridge to the river at Glen Etive, we have your next trip to the Scotland covered.

From deep rocky gorges carved out by rushing rivers to tumbling falls and dark pools hidden amongst ancient woodland, these are some of Scotland’s most beautiful wild swimming spots. Take a dip in the cold waters here and you’ll find yourself surrounded by spectacular Scottish scenery and an abundance of wildlife. There are wonderful walks along these rivers and plenty of places to stop for lunch along the way. 

Take care when going for a swim as water levels can rise quickly in the rain and river pools may be a lot colder and deeper than you think. Always venture out with a friend and enter the water gently, keeping a close eye on your surroundings.

1. ​Feshiebridge, Cairngorms

​Feshiebridge wild swimming Cairngorms

​Feshiebridge – Image: Daniel Start//WildSwimming.com

This section of the River Feshie features a large deep river pool and shingle beach beneath a canopy of ancient trees and pines. The bright, clear water flows under the old stone bridge and through interesting rock formations – good fun to climb and relax on during a hot summer’s day.

How to get there: 

There are a few ways to reach the pool, but we recommend parking at the car park (OS Grid Ref: NH 84747 04540) and following the River Feshie Trail – a peaceful natural path that follows the river down to the bridge. The path is surrounded by grasses, wildflowers and insects in the summer and snowdrops in late winter.

Coordinates: 57.117994, -3.905009

OS Grid Ref: NH 85180 04179

2. Linn of Tummel, Perthshire

 Linn of Tummel waterfall Perthshire

Linn of Tummel – Image: Daniel Start//WildSwimming.com

The area surrounding the Linn of Tummel offers a taste of classic Perthshire scenery – old woodlands, rolling hills, rushing rivers and falls. The word linn is Scots Gaelic for ‘deep pool’ and refers to the natural pool created at the confluence of the River Tummel and River Gary. Beneath the tumbling falls, rowen trees and Scots pines, this is a wonderful place to swim in the summer. The area also had plenty of spots for picnicking and wildlife watching – you might see red squirrels, salmon leaping up the falls or otters.

How to get there: 

Park at the Garry Bridge car park (NN 91330 60999) and go down the steep steps next to the bridge onto a path which soon reaches a junction. Turn right (signed Pitlochry) passing under the road bridge and keep left when the path forks. Follow the path alongside a field before going up a flight of metal steps. Continue on the main path through the woods until it reaches another junction. Here turn left down to the water to the Linn of Tummel.

Coordinates: 56.719283, -3.783236

OS Grid Ref: NN 90960 60042

3. Glen Roy, River Roy

River Roy at Glen Roy wild swimming

River Roy at Glen Roy – Image: Daniel Start//WildSwimming.com

The spectacular Glen Roy is famous for the geological wonder known as the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy – three terraces carved into the hillside by ice-dammed lochs many years ago. Lesser known are the incredible plunge pools and deep bowls in its winding river. Some of the best spots are towards the end of the public road near the bridge, where you might also catch sight of the many red deer that roam the landscape here or even spot a golden eagle.

How to get there:

There are numerous spots along the river, particularly by the bridge near the end of the public road where there is space to pull off.

Coordinates: 56.978115, -4.751226

OS Grid Ref: NN 32896 90744

4. Dog Falls, Glen Affric

Dog Falls waterfall Glen Affric wild swimming

Dog Falls – Image: Daniel Start//WildSwimming.com

A magical forest walk through ancient Scots pine, silver birches and oaks will bring you to these atmospheric rapids that tumble down into a narrow rocky gorge. In this beautiful stretch of the River Affric you’ll find plunge pools above the waterfalls, or further down into the gorge you can swim up river towards them. There is the option to join the yellow waymarked forestry path uphill for views over the fine Caledonian pine forest surrounding Coire Loch.

How to get there: 
Park in the Dog Falls car park (NH 28307 28259). Head east past WCs following river downstream. The waymarked path doesn’t lead to the falls; when it crosses the road, instead of following the path left continue on the road for a short distance until the falls viewpoint on right, about 500m from the car park. Good access to the river beneath the small bridge.

Coordinates: 57.314284, -4.842682

OS Grid Ref: NH 28934 28341

5. Glen Etive, River Etive

Glen Etive, River Etive waterfall wild swimming

Glen Etive – Image: Daniel Start//WildSwimming.com

A popular but superlative swimming spot, set in the legendary Glen Etive. The long river canyon has numerous deep pools, rocky ledges and small waterfalls. There are dramatic views through the glen and plenty of peaceful spots along the bank for lounging on the warm rocks on a summer’s day with a picnic. A small road runs down the valley alongside the river providing easy access to further pools.

How to get there:

Turn off the A82 at the head of Glen Coeshortly W of PH49 4HY and follow single-track road down Glen Etive. Pools exist all along the river. 

Coordinates: 58.122506, -6.647221

OS Grid Ref: NN 21245 51572

Discover more

Discover more great hidden places to go in Scotland with Wild Guide Scotland by Kimberley Grant, Richard Gaston and David Cooper. It’s published by Wild Things Publishing at £18.99 and you can purchase it in the OS Shop. 

Next time you’re in Scotland, why not take a vitalising dip near one of these beautiful waterfalls. Find nearby walking routes below. Don’t forget your towel!

Wild Guide Scotland book Wild Publishing

Wild Guide Scotland by Kimberley Grant, Richard Gaston and David Cooper

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By Kimberley Grant


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