Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall
The Grey Mare's Tail waterfall doesn't seem like too strenuous a climb when you look up at it, but it is fairly steep - especially the first section.
The path is well maintained and you are advised not to stray off onto the grassy slopes.
At the top of the waterfall, the path is more level, and continues on to Loch Skeen - which is very picturesque and makes the climb worthwhile.
It usually takes me about and hour and a half to reach the loch.
The path up to the top of the waterfall and Loch Skeen, is the one on the right hand side - there is a path on the left, but it is only for viewing the waterfall.
If you are parked in the small car park to the right of the stream, just follow the stream up to the start of the path. If you are parked at the visitor centre on the left of the stream, there is a small bridge over to the start of the path.
The first part of the climb is the steepest, and I usually need a few "photography stops" to catch my breath.
There is a herd of wild goats which live on the hillside, and if you are there early, you will often find them getting reluctantly out of your way.
Eventually the path levels out a bit as it follows the side of the valley, but it still climbs all the way to the top.
At this point, if you turn around and look back down to the car park, you realise it is a lot higher than it looked from down below!
Eventually you leave the waterfall behind, and the path follows the stream up to where it emerges from beautiful Loch Skeen.
At this point I've seen lots of people stop and have a picnic, before heading back down.
If you are tempted to walk around the loch, please note:
- The path to the right hand side of the loch is pretty boggy, and can be hard going in places - waterproof walking boots are advised.
- The path to the left hand side along the base of the steep slopes is OK.
- Note: If you do decide to walk round the loch from the right hand side, make sure the stream is fordable.
It usually is easy to cross using stepping stones, but I have seen it high enough to cover the stepping stones, in which case you may find that having walked all round the loch, you have to choose between walking all the way back again, or getting your shoes and socks off and rolling up your trouser legs to wade across.
If you like to combine a bit of trout fishing with your walking, then Loch Skeen is ideal.
There is no charge, but it is Fly Fishing only.
Please note that Loch Skeen is also home to a rare species of fish called Vendace. These are protected and if you catch one it must be returned safely to the water.
More details on fishing Loch Skeen are available HERE
I always spot interesting plants on the path up to Loch Skeen, or growing around the shores.
Particularly abundant are these, which I think are cloudberries.
How To Get There
The car park for the Grey Mare's Tail is right beside the A708.
From Edinburgh, I like to take the B709 from Traquair, and then join the A708 which takes me to the waterfall via St Mary's Loch.
I usually go back to Edinburgh via Moffat which makes for a nice scenic round trip.
There is a small charge to pay at the car park.