The short walk to Steall Falls, in the enchanting Nevis Gorge, is a spectacular woodland trail to a truly wonderful waterfall. Additionally, this Glen Nevis waterfall is a star of the silver screen too, having featured in numerous Harry Potter films. So, if you love waterfalls, Highland walks and Harry Potter, this walk to Steall Falls is definitely for you.
In this guide, we’ll talk about what and where Steall Falls is. We’ll briefly describe the walk to Steall Falls as well as provide some hiking stats and a GPS map. After that, we’ll look at how to get to Glen Nevis and the waterfall, where to stay, discuss other hikes and attractions nearby and answer some commonly asked questions in regard to Steall Waterfall.
To see footage of the walk to Steall Falls in Scotland, please watch our 6 Mind-Blowing West Highland Walks in 6 Days YouTube production.
For more incredible waterfall hikes in Scotland, be sure to check out our guides on Rogie Falls, Wailing Widow Falls, Falls of Kirkaig and Eas a’ Chual Aluinn. Otherwise, read our West Highland Hiking Itinerary, where we talk about six excellent West Highland day hikes.
Table of Contents
About Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge
Steall Falls is an utterly splendid 120m drop waterfall in picturesque Glen Nevis. Although this area is more widely known for housing Britain’s highest mountain – Ben Nevis, a walk to Steall Falls should also be high up your to-do list whilst here.
Part of the beauty of visiting Steall Falls is that you can view the waterfall from some distance away, along the walking trail. It looks magnificent as it flows down the mountainside into Allt Coire a’ Mhail. Additionally, you can get up close to Steall Falls for a different perspective and really appreciate the majestic Nevis Gorge that the waterfall sits within.
Steall Falls is supposedly the second-highest waterfall in Scotland, well, in the UK for that matter. If you want to visit the highest waterfall in the UK (of course you do) then you’ll need to head to Eas a’ Chual Aluinn which can easily be visited as part of the North Coast 500 (NC500).
Steall Falls is also known as An Steall Bàn (meaning ‘The White Spout’ in Gaelic) and Steall Waterfall.
Where Is Steall Falls?
This splendid Glen Nevis waterfall is located on the south side of Ben Nevis Mountain, within the Nevis Gorge. The short walk to view Steall Waterfall winds through enchanting woodland before reaching an open plateau of grassy hillsides. Nestled within is the wonderful Glen Nevis Waterfall AKA Steall Falls.
The nearest major town to Steall Falls is Fort William, which lies northwest of the waterfall. Glencoe lies south of Steall Falls and is within easy reach to do the waterfall walk from, too.
The Nevis Gorge is owned by the John Muir Trust. The trust protects wild spaces and works for the conservation, restoration and protection of Scotland’s wildest places.
Steall Falls Glen Nevis Map & Hiking Preview
- Trail Type: Out & Back
- Distance: 4km
- Time: 1–1.5 hours
- Accumulated elevation gain: 100m
- Difficulty: Easy
- Trailhead: Upper Falls Car Park
- Map: Wikiloc
Steall Falls Walk Description
From the Upper Falls Car Park, you’ll enter the woodland of Glen Nevis and the Nevis Gorge to begin the Steall Waterfall walk. The path is rocky and its initial ascent feels quite steep. A little over 0.5km into the trail, the path begins to level off, takes a right turn and then through the trees you’ll catch glimpses of the utterly stunning Nevis Gorge.
Continue along this undulating and rocky woodland trail. You’ll get to enjoy the sound of the rough waters of the river as it passes through Nevis Gorge below. Eventually, you’ll emerge from the tree cover.
Dan and I thrashed out some speed hiking along this Steall Waterfall walk, even after hiking Ben Nevis in the morning. But, the weather was just too good and we had to take advantage.
What’s speed hiking? It’s how we love to hike, to see as much as possible on a trip! It’s also a great workout. Find out more about speed hiking here.
Steall Falls Scotland
Exiting the woodland provides the first full views of Steall Falls. Albeit, you’ve still a short while to go before reaching the Glen Nevis waterfall, it still looks fantastic from this vantage point.
Continue straight along this very well-maintained path. Steall Waterfall starts to loom larger and you’ll begin to get a sense of just how big this single-drop waterfall is. Anywhere along this path is excellent for taking photographs of Steall Falls. In particular, aim for the fork in the trail. This is where one path leads left around the base of the mountain and the other heads to the right, down to Nevis Waters. From here, you’ll have a really clear view of Steall Falls, capturing the mountainous landscape surrounding it. Nevis Gorge looks outstanding.
Glen Nevis Rope Bridge
After snapping some piccies, take the right side trail down to Nevis Waters. Here, you’ll find the infamous Glen Nevis Rope Bridge. The bridge is an adventurous crossing over the river running through Nevis Gorge. Unless you fancy a paddle, which many do, it’s your only access to cross to the other side. Rope bridge perhaps doesn’t quite describe the crossing accurately. The bridge is made from wire and involves walking carefully along a wire line, whilst holding onto two more wire lines in either hand. It’s a little precarious so just take your time if crossing.
Steall Falls Close Up
Once on the other side, you can take a trail to the left, which winds towards the waterfall. The trail doesn’t seem to lead all the way, but you can follow this patch of grass as far as you like to get a closer view of Steall Falls.
To return, retrace your steps the same way you came, back to the car park. No doubt you’ll feel Steall Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Scotland, like us.
Ring of Steall
The walk to Steall Falls is also the start of the Ring of Steall hike. Dan and I completed the Ring of Steall hike the next day, and so revisited the waterfall. The Ring of Steall is one of the best hikes we’ve ever completed. Aided, undoubtedly, by the glorious weather we had. But still, it’s a demanding full-day hike that is completely breathtaking from start to finish. If you’re after something a little more challenging, like covering 18km and 1,680m elevation gain, then this is definitely a hike to consider. Plus, the views of neighbouring Ben Nevis are pretty sweet from each of the four Munros you’ll bag along the way too. You can read more about the hike here (guide coming soon).
Steall Falls and Harry Potter
As previously mentioned, an interesting fact about Steall Falls is that it was used as a filming location in Harry Potter. Truth be told, we had no idea when we visited. And like I said, we visited twice! For all you film buffs out there, or Potterheads, you’ll be excited to learn that Steall Waterfall was used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire during the tri-wizard tournament when Harry is fighting the dragon for the egg. Don’t worry, I took one for the team and quality controlled this fact. Sure enough, Steall Falls feature in the background. I can also confirm that Steall Falls are just as exceptional in the real world as they are in a fantasy landscape.
Apparently, Steall Falls was also used as backdrop locations in other Harry Potter films too. I don’t have time to fact-check them all, but if you know, let the rest of us in on your film location knowledge in the comments below.
More Harry Potter Filming Locations
You can find the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct very close to Glen Nevis. This well-known train line was used for the Hogwarts Express. Certainly, you can find an excellent viewpoint here from which to photograph the viaduct and hopefully watch the train as it passes over. This famous bridge close to Fort William has to be one of the most popular Harry Potter attractions in Scotland.
Other Nearby Hikes and Waterfalls
If you love a waterfall (who doesn’t) and hiking, then you’ll be pleased to know there are a few other notable places to visit nearby. Let’s take a look.
- Glen Nevis Lower Falls: before you reach the Upper Falls Car Park, you’ll pass by the Lower Falls, another picturesque waterfall in Glen Nevis, Scotland. It would also be possible to create a longer walk to Steall Falls by parking at this car park. Although, much of the additional walking would be on the road.
- Ben Nevis: there are a few different routes to summit the UK’s highest mountain, but the easiest and most popular is the Mountain Trail starting from the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. It’s a steep climb to Ben Nevis, but my word the views from the top are exceptional. So much reward for your effort. One of the best and most accessible Fort William hiking trails, that’s for sure.
- Bidean Nam Bian: one of our favourite Highland hikes! Bidean Nam Bian has incredible views of Glencoe, even as far as Ben Nevis on a clear day. This hike gives you the chance to bag two Munros!
How to Get to Steall Waterfall
To get to Steall Falls you’ll ideally need access to your own set of wheels. Although, there’s a bus service that runs between May and September as far as the bridge at the Lower Falls. From here, you’ll need to walk. But, outside of these months, there’s no public transport option to take you to the trailhead.
Of course, if you don’t have access to your own vehicle, then we recommend hiring something. When hiring a car, we always get the ball rolling with a search on RentalCars.com. Booking a car with Rentalcars.com is easy and stress-free, plus they offer an unbeatable free cancellation policy too.
How to Get to Steall Falls From Fort William
From Fort William, it’s just a 20-minute drive to get to the car park for Steall Falls. You’ll head east and then south out of town, along the Glen Nevis road, passing by the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. It’s a straightforward journey which makes this hike very doable from Fort William.
If you wanted to travel from Glencoe, you’re looking at a 45-minute drive, Again, very doable.
Nevis Gorge Car Park
The car park at Nevis Gorge is known as the Upper Falls Car Park. The majority of walkers for this Glen Nevis waterfall walk will park here. Additionally, the car park is used for those taking on the Ring of Steall hike, so this car park can fill up quickly. Aim to arrive early in the morning or late afternoon to be better guaranteed a space.
Fort William Accommodation
As the nearest town to stay in for the walk to Steall Falls, you’ll find plenty of accommodation options in Fort William. Below, we’ll take a look at the best budget, mid-range and luxury options.
- Budget – Ben Nevis Youth Hostel: the Ben Nevis Hostel (Glen Nevis Youth Hostel) has managed to maintain very reasonable room rates despite the ever-growing popularity of climbing Ben Nevis, especially as the hostel has its very own trailhead to boot. Additionally, the hostel’s location is perfect for the walk to Steall Waterfall too.
- Mid-range – Glenlochy Nevis Bridge Apartments: for a little home away from home, the Glenlochy Nevis Bridge Apartments come highly rated. The accommodation comes with excellent facilities, is in a great location and close to town too. The apartments even have outstanding Wifi.
- Luxury – Inverlochy Castle Hotel: if you want to spend the night like a Scottish Laird, then you’d better book Inverlochy Castle Hotel. This picturesque castle is nestled in beautiful Highland countryside, where you can take advantage of the award-winning restaurant on site too.
Steall Waterfall Camping
If you’re anything like Dan and I, sometimes the camping feels as big a part of the Highland adventure as the hiking does. We stayed at the Ben Nevis Holiday Park. This campground has fantastic views of the surrounding Highlands, including Ben Nevis, of course. In fact, it’s a very convenient location to stay at for the Steall Falls walk. The facilities and amenities were excellent.
Alternatively, you can find Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping even closer to Steall Falls. Also, if you have a camper, it’s possible to overnight park next to the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre. You can find the location here.
Wild Camping Steall Falls
It’s perfectly acceptable to wild camp in Scotland. And, Steall Falls is no exception. In fact, Dan and I saw plenty of people camping on the shores of Nevis Water, next to the wire bridge. I mean, it’s quite a spectacular spot, that’s for sure.
As with most of Scotland, wild camping is permitted in unenclosed areas. However, campers need to follow a standard set of guidelines. These include respecting the countryside and staying safe. Read here for more information on wild camping in Scotland.
How Long Is the Steall Falls Walk?
The walk to and from Steall Falls takes between 1–2 hours. Obviously, a lot of this will depend on how much you stop to admire Nevis Gorge as you walk the 2km to reach Steall Waterfall. The area is particularly beautiful.
Is Steall Falls in Harry Potter?
Incredibly, yes! Please see above for more information regarding Steall Falls and the filming of Harry Potter.
Can You See Steall Falls From the Road?
No, you cannot see Steall Falls from the road. But, since the walk is so short and this Glen Nevis waterfall is so beautiful, I would definitely recommend getting out and stretching the legs to complete this short out and back hike.
Can You Swim at Steall Falls?
It’s possible to swim/paddle/bathe in the shallow pools of Nevis Water at the location of the wire bridge. Dan and I saw plenty of folks doing so when we visited the waterfall in Glen Nevis on a particularly warm and sunny afternoon.
As for actual swimming at the falls themselves, well there isn’t really anywhere to do so as the waterfall trickles down the rocky mountainside, without really plunging into a pool of any significance below.
Where to Park For Steall Falls?
You should park at the Upper Falls Car Park in Glen Nevis to see Steall Waterfall.
When is Steall Falls Open?
Steall Falls is open all day every day, so you can visit whenever you please.
Is the Steall Falls Walk Difficult?
The walk to Steall Falls is short and not technical. However, the ground can be rocky, there is a fair amount of elevation gain, especially at the beginning, and so you should take care as you hike. But, all in all, the out and back trail to Steall Falls is very doable for most levels of fitness and abilities.
Other Glen Nevis Attractions
- Ben Nevis Distillery: is it even a trip to Scotland if you don’t visit a distillery? A quick wee dram is certainly called for after a day enjoying Glen Nevis. Why not call into the Ben Nevis Distillery for a little hiking downtime?
- Ben Nevis Cable Car: the Nevis Range Gondola is the only mountain gondola in the UK and transports visitors 650m up the face of Aonach Mòr, the 8th highest mountain in Britain. In summer, hikers can access beautiful walks to Sgurr Finnisg-aig and Meall Beag from the top gondola station.
- Lochaber Geopark: mountains, lochs and white sand beaches can all be explored within the incredible Lochaber Geopark.
- Great Glen Cycle Route: if you’re a fan of cycling, then you should check out the Great Glen Cycle Route. The trail runs from Fort William to Inverness and is certainly gaining in popularity.
Five Hiking Essentials
These are our five hiking gear essentials for the Steall Waterfall walk in Nevis Gorge! For a more extensive hiking gear list, check out our 66 Travel Accessories That You Must Travel With. Alternatively, for a general summary of everything you’d need for a hiking trip to Scotland, visit our Ultimate Packing Checklist.
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: these hiking boots are super comfortable and lightweight.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a fantastic windproof/waterproof jacket.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for hiking, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket that’ll help keep you warm.
- Columbia Convertible Trousers: a value for money pair of water-resistant convertible trousers.
You should also pack water, snacks and sunscreen.
- Picnic: if you happen to time your visit with lunch, definitely take a picnic. I couldn’t think of a more ideal spot for it.
- Midge alert: Scottish summer also means midge season. Although we encountered far fewer of these pesky Scottish midges than we had around Loch Lomond, it’s still good to be prepared. You could consider a Smidge net (best purchase ever!) and check the Midge Watch (yes, that’s a thing) for daily updates on the numbers out and about.
- Full-day fun: if you prefer to let someone else take care of the ins and outs of your trip to Ben Nevis in Scotland and the surrounding Glen Nevis area, then Get Your Guide offer some fantastic tour options.
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