One of the stories I’m working on at the moment has a very important scene which takes place under a waterfall. It’s a German folktale that might never see the light of day but writing it, I remembered I’d visited the Falls of Shin in the Northern Highlands earlier this summer. It’s one of the best places in the world to see salmon leaping , although I didn’t have any luck on my visit.
The falls, carved by glaciers in the last ice age, start at Loch Shin, the spawning ground of Atlantic salmon. Mature salmon return to the loch every year to breed at their own birthplace. No one is sure why they do it, but they brave current, The site was purchased by Harrod’s owner Mohammed Al Fayed in 1997 and transformed into a visitors’ centre. It now has a railed platform from which you can watch out for the salmon, a restaurant and shop selling Harrods goods, a small education centre and an adventure play area. There is free wifi in the cafe. Apparently even the loos have received an award, although I would have rather the falls had been left undeveloped. I’m sure, though, that families with young kids appreciate the comforts and attractions on a day out.
The surrounding forests are owned by the Forestry Commission and are a haven for wildlife, including otters who inhabit the river. Keen eyed visitors have also reported sightings of Crossbills, Siskins and the elusive Pine Martin which is usually glimpsed either early in the morning or at dusk. I was on a coach trip so I didn’t have time to identify any of the wildlife. I’d like to go back under my own steam, though, and wait until I capture a salmon on film. I’m sure there’s a story in there somewhere, a fish swimming against the current and leaping up waterfalls to get to its place of birth.
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