Discovering the Hidden Gem of Balnacoil: A Secluded Paradise

Hidden a few miles inland and a 5-minute walk from the road.

Nestled amidst the rugged landscapes of Scotland’s northern highlands lies a secret waiting to be discovered by adventurous souls seeking serenity and natural beauty. Welcome to Balnacoil, a hidden gem near the charming village of Brora, where cascading waterfalls and pristine landscapes create a haven for those in search of tranquillity away from the hustle and bustle of tourist crowds.

A Natural Oasis

Balnacoil Falls, Strath Brora (Black Water)

Balnacoil is a place where time seems to stand still, where the symphony of nature’s elements – rustling leaves, flowing water, and birdsong – creates a melody that soothes the soul. As you venture deeper into the wilderness, the sound of rushing water grows louder, guiding you towards the heart of this enchanting oasis.

The main attraction of Balnacoil is the mesmerizing mini waterfalls, and the bridges that go over the river. Fed by peaty streams that wind their way through the dynamic rocks and beautiful hills. As you walk over the bridges it’s amazing to think that in the height of a storm that the water can get all the way up to the top of them! Awesome chance to stand or sit, in the warmth of the sun and listen to the cascading water and wondering at nature’s raw power and beauty.

The old crossing point

This is not my photo! Long before I was around…

If you look at the above photo and the below you may notice that difference in the bridges although the real difference isn’t visible due to the lack of height in the recent shot!

Before the road bridge was completed (just a little bit further down stream from these structures), there was a swing bridge (again just a little further down, it is now long gone) that spanned the river, and before that was completed the only way to cross would have been the multiple bridges as seen in the first photo. You can see the well worn path to the left of the photo. That does not exist anymore, the last portion of the crossing also doesn’t exist. You could cross some rocks to get to the other side, but why would you? There is a perfectly suitable road bridge very close by. So now these bridges are only really used by fishermen to get down and close to the water. And of course the occasional tourist out for a walk.

A Hidden Paradise

What sets Balnacoil apart from other tourist destinations is its secluded nature. Tucked away from the well-trodden paths of more popular attractions, this hidden paradise remains largely undiscovered by the masses. Here, you won’t find tour buses or crowded parking lots – just the whisper of the wind through the trees and the gentle rush of water over stone.

For those willing to seek it out, Balnacoil offers a rare opportunity to commune with nature in its purest form. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual nature enthusiast, the trails that wind through this pristine wilderness beckon you to explore, to wander off the beaten path and discover hidden wonders around every corner.

A Journey Through Time

Beyond its natural beauty, Balnacoil also holds a rich history waiting to be uncovered. The landscape bears witness to centuries of human habitation (before the clearances..😠) and interaction with the land. Have a look for some ancient Broch’s! You can wander through the moss-clad ruins (if you can find them) and you can’t help but feel a sense of connection to the generations that came before.

Practical Tips for Exploring Balnacoil

For those inspired to embark on their own journey to Balnacoil, here are a few practical tips to help make the most of your adventure:

OS Map – check out the extra paths around the area
  1. Getting There: Balnacoil is located near the village of Brora in the Scottish Highlands. Head up towards Loch Brora, from Brora and keep going. Go right past the top of Loch Brora and I’ve marked on the map with an X roughly where you can park. This is not a car park – it’s the side of the road. Make sure you do not block the road!
  2. Prepare for the Outdoors: Balnacoil is a not a park area, so be sure to dress appropriately and pack essentials such as water, snacks, and a map or GPS device if you plan to head further than the bridges. The terrain can be rugged, so sturdy footwear is recommended.
  3. Respect Nature: As you explore Balnacoil, remember to leave no trace and respect the fragile ecosystem. Take only photographs and memories, and refrain from disturbing plants or wildlife. Warning TICKS! They are a right pain and the whole area of Strath Brora is full of them. Always check yourself after walking.
  4. Safety First: While Balnacoil is a peaceful retreat, it’s important to exercise caution, especially if you’ve children near the waterfalls and steep edges. There is a lovely wee bench to sit and enjoy the sun, it’s a bit of a sun trap due to it’s sheltered location.


In a world where hidden gems are increasingly rare, Balnacoil stands as a testament to the enduring power of nature to inspire and captivate. With its secluded waterfalls, ancient woodlands, and rich history, this hidden paradise offers a glimpse into a world mainly untouched – a place where you can just sit back and enjoy some peace. So pack your bags, lace up your hiking boots, and set out on an adventure to discover the magic of Balnacoil for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Balnacoil Lodge

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