Falls of Acharn and the Hermit’s Cave: The Ultimate Guide

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Tucked secretly away from the banks of Loch Tay, in a small, unassuming village of delightful stone cottages, is a series of falls known as the Falls of Acharn.

The Falls of Acharn are not nearly as talked about as the nearby Birks of Aberfeldy, making them a bit more of a hidden gem (and trust me, they are a gem!).

If you didn’t know of their existence you could easily miss them, which would be a shame as a walk to the falls provides some stunning views of now only the falls themselves but of the vast loch and mysterious Hermit’s Cave.

Admittedly, I didn’t expect too much from the walk, but it actually ended up being one of my absolute favourite things to do in the Loch Tay area! Read here for more of my favourite activities on Loch Tay.

Falls of Acharn Map

Double-click on each point on the map to learn more.

How were the Falls of Acharn Made? 

The waterfalls themselves were created over thousands of years as water eroded the rocks in the surrounding area. Over time, the water began to flow down the 70 foot drops that we now call the Falls of Acharn.

The Falls have since been admired by locals and tourists alike for centuries.

So enduring was their legacy, and so enchanting their beauty, that the Hermit’s Cave was created in the Lower Falls between the 18th and 19th centuries with a viewing platform designed to appear like a cave so instil a sense of awe and wonder in visitors.

Such visitors to the Falls of Acharn included Robert Burns, Dorothy Wordsworth and her poet brother, William.

The Upper Falls boast their own viewing platform, constructed in 1989 by members of the armed forces in Scotland.

Falls of Acharn Quick Facts

Height: 25.5 metres / 80 foot

Distance from Acharn: 0.4 miles

Walk Time: 40 minutes – 1 hour

Points of Interest: Hermit’s Cave, Lower Falls, Upper Falls and the Stone Circle – the latter involves taking a detour away from the falls

The Lower Falls of Acharn, viewed from the viewing platform

The Hermit’s Cave

According to tradition, the Hermit’s Cave was built by a hermit, hence why it’s sometimes called The Hermitage.

The Hermit’s Cave is a viewing platform at the top of the falls. It was built around 1790, as part of the trend of the ‘picturesque’ movement for crafted landscapes in the 18th century.

The ‘Picturesque’ movement was an attempt to create ‘gardens’ on an enormous scale, and to use nature as a canvas to create worlds with a sense of mystery, linked to myths and legends.

One unconfirmed theory is that the Earl of Breadalbane had it constructed in 1760, although there is little to support this. What we do know is that both Robert Burns and William Wordsworth visited the falls, and the Hermitage. 

The Cave’s purpose was to create a sense of drama, wonder, and mystery to trips to the Falls. It fulfils its role perfectly.

The Hermitage is a long S shape, ending in an octagonal cave whose mouth is shaped like a bow, to frame the Falls in their natural splendour.

The Hermitage is part of the Rob Roy Way, a scenic walk through the Scottish countryside.

The Hermit’s Cave

The Lower Falls of Acharn

The Falls of Acharn can be divided into two key parts: the lower falls and the higher falls.

The lower falls are the easiest to access, being the closest to Acharn village.

To view the falls, begin in Acharn village and take the farm trail up the hill, and post a row of houses. Follow the signs for the Hermit’s Cave, and make your way through to the cave and the passage (the cave can get dark, so a torch would be helpful, but isn’t necessary), before opening out into the Lower Falls Viewing Platform.

The Lower Falls Viewing Platform offers unparalleled views of the Falls. Watch, immersed as water cascades down the 70 feet drop that is the Lower Falls (by far the largest drop among the Fall of Acharn).

Tip! The only way to view the Lower Falls of Acharn is by venturing into the Hermit’s Cave. There is an exit from the cave that will open up into an amphitheatre-like viewing platform with marvellous views of the falls.

The viewing platform which looks over the Lower Falls of Acharn

The Upper Falls of Acharn

The Upper Falls do not have such large drops as the Lower Falls, but a visit to them is more than worth your time. 

The spectacular views of the Upper Falls are best seen from the Upper Falls Viewing Platform which is a slight detour from the key path around the falls.

Once you reach the top of the trail and it starts to loop round, keep an eye out for a fork in the path which will take you to the left. It will be signposted. This will take you through a swathe of peaceful forest to the Upper Falls Viewing Platform.

Unlike the Lower Falls, the Upper Falls Viewing Platform is a recent addition. It was constructed in June 1989 by the Officers and men of the 202 Field Squadron RE, rather than a Victorian or Regency addition like the Hermitage and the Lower Falls Viewing Platform.

The Upper Falls of Acharn

The Falls of Acharn Stone Circle 

These neolithic stones stand just above the Falls of Acharn and could easily be missed from your visit if you didn’t know where to find them as to reach them you must detour from the main circular loop around the falls.

The stones stand at 378 metres above sea level and have been known by many names throughout the years. What’s now called The Falls of Acharn Stone Circle, was once known as Greenland, and known locally as Auchliacha (Field of Stones).

There were originally nine stones in the circle. Today only four of the stones are still standing upright, two lie near their original positions and the rest are sadly broken apart.

An excavation in 1924 found a shallow patch of burnt earth which was around 0.60m square in size. Alongside it were some charcoal and calcined bones. The surrounding soil was a deep red colour suggesting that it’s possible this stone circle is where a pyre once burned.

If you wish to view the stones it’s a several mile detour from the main circular walk around the falls. Once you have reached the top of the falls and cross the burn to the other side, you will notice that the path forks in two.

Follow the trail to the right which will take you higher up the hill, alongside the burn. We’ll discuss this walk in detail later in the article.

Tip! The Stone Circle is 1.2 miles from the falls. Visiting them requires a detour from the main circular path which encompasses the falls.

Stone circle by Image by Anita from Pixabay

Planning Your Visit to the Falls of Acharn & The Hermit’s Cave 

Now you know what the Falls of Acharn and the Hermit’s Cave are, it’s time to prepare for your trip.

Keep reading to find the location of these wonders of nature, how to get there, whether you have to pay, as well as the pros and cons of visiting on your own or as part of a tour. This is the brief yet ultimate guide to planning your trip.

Where Are the Falls of Acharn Located? 

Situated in the heart of the Scottish countryside, the Falls of Acharn are surrounded by beautiful scenery, green landscapes and abundant nature.

The Falls of Acharn are located in Eddergoll, Aberfeldy, which is in Perthshire, Scotland. The Falls even have their own postcode: PH15 2HS.

Grazing fields which surround the Falls of Acharn

How to get to the Falls of Acharn

Getting to the Falls of Acharn is pretty straightforward as the trail starts from the main road along the south of Loch Tay.

Below we’ll go into detail on how to get there.

Getting to the Falls of Acharn by car

If you are approaching the Falls of Acharn from Kenmore then it will take you less than 10 minutes by car. Drive out of Kenmore village to the south, passing Kenmore beach on your right. Not long after you have passed the beach you will notice a junction to your right. Take this road which will run parallel to the loch.

Follow the road for around 1.5 miles until you reach the village of Acharn. You should see a signpost indicating the start of the walk at the northern end of the village. 

If you are coming from Aberfeldy, then the drive should take you around 15 minutes. Start by following the A827 to the west which will take you from Aberfeldy towards Kenmore and Loch tay.

Follow the A827 until you reach the start of Loch Tay and just before the road veers sharply to the right into Kenmore (after around 6 miles on the A827), take the exit to the left, following the signpost to Acharn. Follow the road for around 1.5 miles until you reach the village of Acharn.

If you are journeying from Pitlochry, the drive will take you around 40 minutes. Follow the A924 south east from Pitlochry town and then join the A9 which will run parallel to the River Tummel. Take the next exit off the A9 (after 3 miles on the A9) and then head straight on at the oncoming roundabout (third exit), following the A827.

Follow the A827, following signs to Aberfeldy until you reach Aberfeldy town. Drive through the centre of the town, going straight on the small round about within the town and then straight through the crossroads at the edge of the town, towards Kenmore.

From here follow the directions I’ve written above, from Aberfeldy to the Falls of Acharn.

The start of the walk which is visible from the main road. Parking is available at this spot

Is There Parking at the Falls of Acharn?

Those driving to the Falls walk can find parking in the nearby village of Archarn. Look for the signpost that reads ‘Falls of Acharn, Circular Walk’ which is just to the left of the main road. Around that sign are a couple of parking spaces for you to use.

Be aware that there is not ample parking and the parking spaces aren’t marked. During busy times cars can be parked along the main road, as long as they are parked far enough over for traffic to still comfortably pass along the main road.

Getting to the Falls of Acharn by Bus 

It is possible to reach the Falls by bus. In fact, it is fairly easy, especially when you are coming from Kenmore or Aberfeldy.

From Kenmore, take the line 91 bus from the Kenmore Club bus stop, to the north of Kenmore Beach. It’s a 6 minute bus ride to Acharn village. The bus will stop at Acharn Cross, which is just a short walk away from the start of the walk to the Falls of Acharn. Click here for more information on the route.

The same line 91 bus also connects Aberfeldy to Acharn. The bus from Aberfeldy to Acharn takes 16 minutes. Click here for more information on the route.

Ticket prices for the 91 vary depending on the day.  The 91 only operates weekdays and leaves twice a day.

Journeying by bus from Pitlochry is a little more complex as you will need to take two buses. Start at Newholme Avenue bus stop in Pitlochry, and take the 83 bus to Chapel Street, Aberfeldy. Then take the 91, to Acharn. For the 83’s full route and schedule, click here

Bus fare for the 83 is £3-£6. The bus leaves at 12:30, 15:30 and 18:20 each day. 

Looking back on the walk to the Falls of Acharn

Do You Need to Pay to Visit the Falls of Acharn? 

The Falls of Acharn are free for all. No tickets required at any time of the day or year, just walk up and take in the view. The parking is also free.

Should you Visit the Falls of Acharn Independently or via Tour? 

While there is a small number of tours around the Falls of Acharn, their natural beauty is best experienced at the visitor’s own pace. No-one hurrying you through the caves, or sharing time on the viewing platforms unless you really have to.

If you would rather experience the Falls as part of a group, you’d be well served by hiking with friends or family, so give them a call. It will be cheaper than paying for a tour, and you’ll likely enjoy it more.

The Canyoning tour is one exception. This activity requires professional equipment and knowledge, and is best enjoyed with professional assistance. Click here to book a tour.

One of the Hermit’s cave’s two entrances

Falls of Acharn Walks

There are two key walks that you can take which incorporate the Falls of Acharn: the Falls of Acharn Circular Walk and the Falls of Acharn Stone Circle Circular Walk. The latter walk is several miles longer than the former.

We’ll go into the two walks in detail below.

Falls of Acharn Circular Walk 

The Falls of Acharn make a fantastic walk for hikers of all abilities and experiences.

The Falls walk typically lasts around forty minutes to an hour, and begins in Acharn Village. The route will take you anticlockwise around the falls.

From Acharn village it moves up the highlands, with stunning views of the Loch, to the Falls. It moves through the Hermit Cave and Lowers falls, before moving to the Upper Falls and heading back to Acharn Village for some much deserved R&R.

Double-click each point on the map for more information about the walk.

Falls of Acharn Circular Walk Facts

Walk Distance: 1.25 miles

Walk Time: 40 minutes – 1 hour

Walk Difficulty: Moderate

Path Quality: Good

Walk Description: A circular walk which takes you round the Falls of Acharn, yielding spectacular views of the falls and of Loch Tay.

Terrain Description: A combination of wide gravel paths, wooden walk-ways (which can get slippery) and uneven dirt slopes which can get steep in places. There are no barriers between the path and the gorge so care is required.

Stage 1: Walk to the Hermit’s Cave and Lower Falls of Acharn 

The walk starts in Acharn village with the ‘Falls of Acharn, Circular Walk’. Follow the signs and the walk begins. This route will take you anticlockwise around the falls.

This initial part of the walk is a steep climb, but a beautiful one.

On the way up, you will walk past rows of houses, including the Kenmore bakery which cooks delicious shortbread biscuits, which can be a nice sight in itself, but the real visual gem comes when you turn to look behind you.

The path to the Falls of Acharn, looking back towards the Loch

Behind you on the walk is Loch Tay, a visually spectacular Loch, even if it does receive less attention than Loch Ness.

At the top, you’ll see a sign for the Hermit’s Cave. Follow this and pass through the cave. The cave is dark but never pitch black. A torch may be helpful, but isn’t necessary.

The cave is designed in a T shape. Once you reach the intersection of this T, you will come to the viewing platform, allowing you to bask in the glory of the Lower Falls’ 70 foot drop. 

The Lower Falls of Acharn

Stage 2: Walk to the Higher Falls of Acharn 

After the Hermit’s Cave, keep on walking and once you have reached the summit of the walk you will see a fork in the path. You will see signs that read, ‘Upper Bride’, and ‘The Upper Falls Viewing Platform’. Follow the sign for the viewing platform which will take you down a path to the left through a swathe of forest.

At the bottom of the path you will find a wooden viewing platform which takes you over the burn. As you walk here you will find yourself gazing upon the stunning Upper Falls.

The wooden walkway which stretches over the burn, allowing great views of the Upper Falls

It’s dark and peaceful here, sheltered by towering trees, with nothing but the gentle gurgle of the falls in your ears.

From here you can either retrace your steps in order to view the ‘Upper bridge’, or if you follow the path from here you will come back to the main trail, skipping out the ‘Upper Bridge’.

If you go back and follow the ‘Upper Bridge’ sign, you will find a wholly different, but equally spectacular, view point.

Once you’ve had your fill of the Upper Falls, keep following the trail until you reach the sunlight and are back on the hiking trail. From there, you can begin to walk back to Acharn Village.

The Upper Falls of Acharn

Stage 3: Walk Down to Acharn Village 

Once you are back on the main trail make your way back through the gorgeous Highlands. You will pass through dense woodlands of beech, oak and silver birch.

The views from here are simply breathtaking. You can see right down to Kenmore village, perched to the right of the majestic Loch Tay.

The terrain when journeying down is quite uneven and steep in places so be sure to watch your step.

Views of Kenmore village at the edge of Loch Tay

On the way back to Acharn Village, you will come across a small building on your left, situated beside the burn. It’s slightly yellow in colour with rough rendering and a hipped roof. The building somehow looks like a somewhat industrial log cabin and is completely abandoned.

I was intrigued by this little building so made sure to wander around it. The side closest to the burn is completely open. I wasn’t brave enough nor do I recommend wandering inside due to the poor state of dilapidation of the building, but it is interesting to have a look inside at the square hole in the floor, the antique cabinets and the mysterious electrical structure in a dark corner of the building.

Information about this building online is scarce so I can only assume this was the old hydroelectric power station. If you do have more information about this building then let me know in the comments as I would love to untangle its mystery!

The mysterious abandoned building near the burn
Inside the abandoned building

As you continue down the trail you will notice the new hydroelectric power station which is even closer to the burn. The building is of a similar style to the abandoned one.

Hydroelectric power has been a feature of Remony Estate, Perthshire since 1925, with its efforts redoubled in recent years. 

When ending your walk back from the Falls of Acharn, there are a few options. You can head straight back to your car or the bus stop and head home, or you could spend a little longer in Archan, admiring the quaint architecture of the town.

The closest eateries can be found in Kenmore, which is a 6 minute drive from Archan.

Kenmore village, which houses the closest cafes and restaurants

Falls of Acharn Stone Circle Circular Walk

This 6 mile long hike incorporates both the Falls of Acharn and the Stone Circle. This hike will take you in the clockwise direction around the falls so the starting point for this walk is in fact different from the above walk.

The below map shows the walk to the Stone Circle and back. However, for the most adventurous walkers, I have detailed a 6 mile circular route below that includes walking over moorlands, crossing over burns via stepping stones and even walking past a quaint bothy.

Falls of Acharn Stone Circle Circular Walk Quick Facts

Walk Distance: 6 miles

Walk Time: 3 – 4 hours

Walk Difficulty: Strenuous

Path Quality: Good

Walk Description: A circular walk which takes you round the Falls of Acharn and then up to the mysterious Stone Circle, yielding spectacular views over Loch Tay.

Terrain Description: A combination of wide gravel paths, wooden walk-ways (which can get slippery) and uneven dirt slopes which can get steep in places. There are no barriers between the path and the gorge so care is required.

Stage 1 : Acharn to the Higher Falls

This walk starts in Acharn village, on the east side of the road bridge which stretches over the burn. Walk through the village, passing quaint cottages and a charming red post box.

The route will pass children’s park on the left before ascending into tranquil woodland with Acharn Burn on the right.

The ground here is steep and uneven and will take you past the hydroelectric power plant and on your right and then a mysterious abandoned building set back a little from the burn.

You can take a detour from the trail to marvel at the ‘Upper Falls’ should you wish to, wandering over the wooden walkway which provides spectacular views of the cascades and pools which make up the Upper Falls.

Return to the main trail and when it forks, keep to the right, not quite making it over the bridge which crosses over the burn.

On the way up you will pass a stunning viewpoint which yields views of the Hermit’s cave

Stage 2: Climb to the Stone Circle

Continue to the left of the burn, the trail snaking between two fences until it reaches a gate at the top. Go through the gate and wander to the main track beside a stone bridge which stretches over the burn.

Now you will turn left and venture through a wooden gate. From here you follow the main track which will veer to the right and then left, tracking east over the hillside, passing a grass coated mound on your left. Beyond the mound the trail will pass above a barn.

Just above the Remony Burn you will find yourself at a junction. Take the right track which will take you through a grassy field flanked by lines of forest until you reach a gate.

Once through the gate you will find the famous stone circle on your right. Here you can marvel at the stones as well as the panoramic view of Loch Tay, all the way to the peak of Ben Lawers.

Stone circle by Image by Anita from Pixabay

Stage 3: Moorland Trail

Continue along the trail which stretches over open moorland until you reach a fork in the path. Take the main path to the right and follow it through a small cluster of pine trees.

The trail will then bend to the south. There will be a brief moment of climbing before the trail will descend over the hillside through swathes of open moorland. 

You will soon find yourself crossing over a narrow burn. Roughly 200 metres after the burn crossing you will notice a smaller trail branching off to the right. Take this trail and follow it until you cross the Acharn Burn. You will cross the burn via some stepping stones. Shortly after you will have to cross another, much smaller burn.

You will then find yourself on a steep trail which leads to a quaint wooden bothy on your left, nestled into the hillside. Just before you reach the bothy, you will find yourself at a junction. Turn right and continue down the main trail through grassy fields.

You will find yourself in a vast expanse of fields for just over half a mile before you reach another fork in the path. Ignore the trail that leads off to the left and keep following the main trail as it gradually descends the hillock.

Continue following the trail for 1.2 miles, passing through lush grazing fields, until you reach the Falls of Acharn.

Fields along the trail

Stage 4: The Hermit’s Cave and Walk to Acharn

Turn left on the other side of the gate and descend towards the Hermit’s Cave, which you will pass on your left.

The cave is certainly worth a visit. Clamber into one of its passageways and wander through the pitch-black darkness until you see an exit which will take you to an amphitheatre-like viewing platform with spectacular views over the Lower Falls of Acharn.

Once you have got enough of the view, return to the main trail and continue your descent until you are back in Acharn village.

The Hermit’s Cave

Falls of Acharn Packing List

  • A backpack so you can store extra layers and any waterproofs
  • At least one bottle of water. Bring more if you plan on completing the 6 mile circular hike to the stone circle
  • A torch – I found this was necessary when wandering through the Hermit’s cave
  • A camera – to photograph the falls in all their glory!
  • As there are no eateries in Acharn itself you may wish to bring some snacks with you

Best Time of Year to Visit the Falls of Acharn 

The summer months are the best in the year to visit the Falls of Acharn. The weather is warmer, and the sun is out for longer, giving you more time to appreciate the Falls’ natural beauty.

The birds and wildlife come out in the summer, but tend to stay away during the winter.

More specifically, the best time to visit is after heavy rainfall. The sound of the rainwater running down the waterfall is awe-inspiring and makes visitors feel at one with nature.

What to Wear for Your Visit to the Falls of Acharn

The weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, especially in this part of the country where each valley seems to have its own weather, which may be completely different from the valley next door. Therefore it’s advisable to come prepared for an abrupt change in weather as the weather forecast isn’t always accurate.

Even so, it’s always advisable to check the weather forecast just before you set off for your walk to get a basic idea of what to wear. You can view an up-to-date weather forecast for Kenmore here.

I’d recommend wearing layers, including a thin waterproof layer if there’s a chance of rain. Therefore if it gets too warm, you can always strip back a layer.

Wear sturdy walking shoes. The terrain is uneven in places and the gravel paths can be challenging to climb if you don’t have enough grip on your shoes.

My chosen outfit for the walk, with a thin waterproof jacket on top

Falls of Acharn FAQs

Can you Swim in the Falls of Acharn?

Whilst it is possible to swim in the Higher Falls of Acharn, the site isn’t monitored so it isn’t really recommended. The water can be very cold, especially in the winter and the water isn’t particularly deep so diving is certainly off the cards.

Can you Bring Dogs to the Falls of Acharn?

Yes, you can bring dogs to the Falls of Acharn. However, due to the lack of safety railings beside the gorge it is advisable to keep your dog on a leash at all times.

Can you Walk the Falls of Acharn With a Pushchair or Wheelchair?

The walk is pretty steep and the path uneven so it’s not really suitable for pushchairs or wheelchair users.

Can You Go Canyoning in the Falls of Acharn?

Yes! The Falls of Acharn lies in Acharn Canyon. Acharn Canyon makes for great canyoning fun, with plenty of jumps, a natural flume and an abseil slide.

Acharn canyon is a perfect canyon for beginners and lovers of awesome experiences with fantastic views.

Have a look here for canyoning experiences and day trips at a reasonable price.

Much of the walk takes you through forests. This is the path to the Upper Falls viewing platform

Cafes and Restaurants Near the Falls of Acharn

There are no cafes or restaurants within the small village of Acharn. There are however a couple of restaurants in neighbouring Kenmore which is a mere 6 minute drive from the falls.

The Courtyard and The Paper Boat on Loch Tay are two great places to grab a bite to eat in Kenmore village. The Paperboat is perched on the shores of Loch Tay making it ideal for those who love a great view whilst they drink a hot coffee – and it’s dog-friendly!

Me, enjoying an ice-cream in Kenmore village

Where to Stay Near the Falls of Acharn

The good news is that there is a plethora of gorgeous hotels and holiday cottages in the area to suit a range of budgets.

My absolute favourite place to stay is the Mains of Taymouth, in Kenmore village. They do a range of apartments and cottages

You can view a full list of apartments and hotels in Kenmore here.

Final Thoughts

The Falls of Acharn is a stunning beauty spot which is tucked away from prying eyes on the upper banks of Loch Tay. It isn’t as well known as some of the other falls in the area making a walk here particularly quiet and peaceful.

The falls may not be the most grand in the area but interesting additions to the trek such as the Hermit’s Cave give the falls a different kind of wonder.

I’d highly recommend a visit to the Falls of Acharn if you are in the area. The circular walk round the falls can easily be completed in under an hour and can be completed even if you don’t have a high level of fitness (like me!), although most of the walk is either uphill or downhill.

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