One of the best things about cycling in Scotland is coming across the unexpected. You can look at a map and research places online to get a pretty good idea about what you are going to see on your travels. But when you come across something that you didn't expect it becomes the highlight of the journey.
When I set out on the Loch Buidhe road between Golspie and Dornoch I had no idea that I would come across this rumbling, tumbling waterfall by the side of the road.
There was no warning. It came out of the blue. All of a sudden. There was a gushing waterfall right by the side of the road. I had no idea this was going to be here. There was no mention of it on the map or in anything I read about the area. I loved that. My secret waterfall and I had it all to myself. I stayed here for ages watching it and enjoying the noise.
The waterfall is located a few miles from where this road joins the A9 at The Mound. The road runs alongside a rushing burn, there is a bit of a climb and then the waterfall appears.
There are many secrets, like this waterfall, to be found across Scotland. Yes, there are castles, stately homes, museums, cities and other attractions that are famous and draw thousands and thousands of visitors. But it is the little surprises, the things that are not widely written about, the hidden gems that are often the most memorable.
Read my blog about cycling along this road and discover more surprises
This blew me away. I loved every minute of it. Sometimes I get off my bike to go for a walk and the Big Burn is the most spectacular walk that I have done on a cycling trip.
The walk begins in a forest with no hint of how spectacular it will become. In fact, it is a somewhat ordinary introduction. The name of the walk gives nothing away- a burn does not sound impressive- but the picture on the stone sign suggests something more special:
The path crosses a humpback bridge, with the same name as me!
A plaque on the bridge explains why it is called Colin's Bridge. It pays tribute to a local man who voluntarily carried out repair works to the paths.
The walk proceeds under the huge railway arch and alongside the burn. Its banks are thick with trees and foliage.
So far, quite a nice walk, but not necessarily spectacular.
That was to change all of a sudden...
The path takes you into a gorge where the burn flows fast and noisily. Wooden bridges continually cross the gorge from one side to the other as you make your way further inside. It felt to me like an expedition into a lost world. I thought I was somewhere abroad, not Scotland. There was something about the rocky chasm, the soundscape of rushing water and the exotic-looking green foliage that transported me elsewhere.
This waterfall, in particular, made me think of rain-forests in Costa Rica. Those delicate tendrils of silvery water pattering over a rock garden of lush green moss seemed to me to be evocative of South America:
I should not have been thinking of elsewhere. This beauty was right here, in Scotland, and I was fortunate to be able to see it. Enjoy this short video that captures the lovely sound of this waterfall:
After seeing this I thought that I had seen the main attraction of this walk, but no. It continued further into the gorge, across more bridges.
I was so glad that there was more and the adventure could continue.
I turned a corner and wham! A gushing, deafening, powerful waterfall was before me. The water was being forced through a narrow gap in the gorge and this was the reason for all this watery chaos.
I stayed awhile, enjoying the sound of the water and feeling the spray on my face. It was spectacular and this video captures some of the magic of this waterfall.
I loved how lush and green this walk is. Take a look at this stairway cutting through grasses.
It was a wet day during my visit, but it did not matter. It added to the feeling of being on an adventure and going somewhere wild. It made the foliage more lush. Look at this carpet of glistening leaves on the path:
Once I had seen the waterfall I retraced my steps to return to Golspie. On the way I took the path marked for the skating pond and found a peaceful spot that would be ideal for a summer picnic.
This walk is a must. If you are in the area please make the effort to do the walk as you will not regret it. The distance of the walk is about 2 miles, relatively short for something that turns out to be such an incredible adventure.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Golspie? The Golspie Inn is right next to this walk. Read my review of Golspie Inn
For more things to see and do in Golspie take a look at Ten things to see and do in Golspie.
Try cycling the quiet road between Golspie and Dornoch for amazing views of snowy mountains.
Golspie to Littleferry is a short, quiet road that makes for great cycling.
At time of writing Golspie station house was up for sale, if you fancy living in a Highland train station.
My name is Colin Baird and I want to see all of Scotland by bicycle.