Falls of Shin
Walk where the waters run at Falls of Shin
Follow the winding road through Achany Glen to a forest clearing where salmon leap and children play. You've reached the Falls of Shin, a wonderful starting point for a range of trails through beautiful mixed woodland and along the rocky banks of the Shin. It's a great place to get out and enjoy the forest whatever your ability – there are natural play areas here and easy trails suitable for all users.
The car park, children's play area, forest trails and waterfalls are open all year round. The best time to see salmon leaping is in the summer months.
Our map guide to the forests of the Far North will help you explore Falls of Shin and other forest trails in Sutherland.
You'll find public toilets and places to eat in Bonar Bridge and Lairg.
A gentle stroll through attractive pine and larch woodland with a good view over the River Shin.
Firm gravel and grassy surface throughout. Some short moderate slopes.
¼ miles / 0.4 km Allow ¼ hour
Get a feel for mature pine forest on this short, easy trail. It's ideal for pushchairs and wheelchairs and leads to a picnic bench with stunning views over the River Shin.
Wander through native woodlands along the River Shin and look out for the shimmering of the aspen trees.
Firm gravel surface throughout. Some slightly uneven and overgrown grassy sections. Includes a number of short fairly steep slopes and two road crossings.
½ miles / 1.0 km Allow ½ hour
This is one of only 14 places in the UK where the endangered aspen hoverfly survives. It relies on a constant supply of decaying aspen so we try to leave dead wood where it falls.
Climb up through larch, fir and pine forest for great views across Achany Glen. Let your imagination run wild in the natural play areas along the way.
Uneven gravel and grassy path. Long moderate slopes for up to 600m with several short steeper sections.
1 ¼ miles / 2.0 km Allow ¾ hour
Lose yourself in towering conifer trees and shady glades where small birds forage for food. There are rugged natural play areas along the way, tremendous fun for children and adults. If you want to explore further by bike or on foot there's access to the forest road network here.
Mountain biking trails
Salmon leap through the forest
The forest to the west of the Falls of Shin is full of variety with impressive mature conifers towering over the trails. You'll also see small groves of native broadleaf trees like alder, downy birch, hazel and aspen, characteristic of the ancient woodlands which once cloaked the hills and glens of this area. Beautiful green mosses and lush woodland plants carpet the glades, speckled in spring and summer by flowering dog violets and golden primroses.
There's plenty of wildlife in the forest and down by the river. Listen for the hollow tapping of a great spotted woodpecker, or catch the flash of an otter's back in the water. You might even spot a sparrowhawk in the forest clearings. The star attractions, of course, are the wild Atlantic salmon, leaping up the thundering Shin falls to their spawning grounds in the hills. They make this epic journey anytime between May and November, but your best chance of seeing them is in late summer.
The Salmon Leap viewpoint is close to the car park and accessible down a short, steep flight of wide concrete steps. There's a barrier around the viewing area, but young children would benefit from adult supervision. (Please note: this trail is not on Forestry Commission Scotland land).
How to get here
From Bonar Bridge take the A836 north west for 4 miles (6.4 km), turning left onto the A837 towards Lochinver. After ¾ mile (800 metres) turn right onto the B864; the car park is on your left after 1¼ miles (2 km).
From Lairg follow the A839 south west for ¾ mile (1.2 km) and turn left onto the B864. The Falls of Shin car park is on your right after 4 miles (6.4 km).
The car park is at grid reference NH 576 993.
IV27 4EE is the nearest postcode.
An infrequent bus service between Tain and Lairg stops at the Falls of Shin. See Traveline Scotland for details.
Rosehall and gorgeous Raven's Rock are not far away and well worth a visit. If you're a mountain biker with energy to spare then head for the Kyle of Sutherland MTB trails at Balblair near Bonar Bridge, or for quiet woodland strolls choose Camore or Skelbo near Dornoch.
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