Fish swim up the Niagara Falls

Falls of Shin - waterfall with salmon jump

The waterfall of the small river Shin rushes through a narrow rock cut. In order to get to their breeding grounds, salmon have to overcome the fast current with wild leaps. A fascinating spectacle.

What amuses us humans is a real struggle for survival for the animals. Not every fish has the strength to fight their way upstream through the strong current. And so you see salmon that take several attempts until they are exhausted.

With a little help from my friends ...

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Even without salmon, this place would be beautiful. The valley that the Shin River cuts into the landscape is overgrown with trees, ferns and mosses, and branches with red berries bend down from above. A feast for the eyes.

In order to be able to observe the waterfalls and the salmon well, several viewing platforms have been created, which are connected by a small circular path. From the large parking lot at the visitor center, it's a few minutes downhill to get to the first lookout point. Some onlookers can jostle at the railing. But many give up in disappointment when they realize that it takes patience and concentration to watch the fast fish jump.

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The first observation deck at the top is also the one where we saw the most fish. The lower one shows a view of a quieter, more idyllic waterfall. Definitely worth seeing.

The waterfalls are the main attraction, but the visitor center at the top of the parking lot offers even more. There is a large children's playground here,. (see explanations below)

Biking and hiking trails through the surrounding forests also start from the parking lot.

UPDATE:21.07.2018: The “Mac & Wild at Falls of Shin” restaurant is new. Mac & Wild is now a small chain that offers dishes from local production - mainly consisting of beef and game.

UPDATE:04.06.2017: The new center has been inaugurated and, according to many comments, should be very beautiful. Reader Britta writes in the comments:

The Visitors Center at the Fall of Shin is completely finished and absolutely successful. The design in the shape of a salmon, the great information boards (including little jokes - not just for the little ones: “What did the salmon say when he swam into a wall? Dam!” Or “Where do baby salmon sleep? On the river bed . “), The tearoom with attached gift shop. And an outdoor area that is really worth seeing with a great children's playground.
The detour is absolutely worth it.

Tip: When is the best time to see salmon

The salmon are most active in October and November. Otherwise you can almost always see salmon. In general, it is also true that the fish are more often out in the morning or in the evening. It is also good if it rained beforehand.

In any case, you should take something with you against midges. While waiting on the platform, the small bite flies can become a real nuisance.

Know: Why the salmon migrate

Salmon are born in fresh water and then migrate to the sea after one to four years, where they live as saltwater fish for a few years and become fully adult. But then they are drawn back to their place of birth to spawn. Therefore, they often have to cover hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. Of course, they swim against the current of the river and have to jump up rapids and waterfalls. Quite a few die from exhaustion.

Once at the top, the salmon mate. Once that has happened, many animals die again. Only a few manage to hibernate in fresh water and repeat the whole game over the next year.

If you want to find out more about the salmon, you can do so on the display boards at the gift shop directly at the Falls of Shin.

Personal note: patience and focus

We had to bring enough time to make the recordings. And we also had to concentrate, a salmon like that jumped quickly and you never know when and where it could be seen. But it was a lot of fun and very exciting.

We deliberately left out the visitor center and especially the shop and restaurant.


Coming from Inverness take the A9 north until, just before the Dornoch Firth Bridge, turn left at the roundabout onto the A836 towards Bonar Bridge. Incidentally, the Falls of Shin are already written on the roundabout as a brown tourist sign. Continue to over the Bonar Bridge. The road ends at a T-junction, turn left here towards Lairg. Keep going until the junction of the A837 goes away to the left, here too the falls are already written out. After about 400 meters you pass a bridge, then you turn right. Then just follow this street to the parking lot.

From Ullapool drive north on the A835 until it meets the A837 from Lochinver at the famous Ledmore Junction. Turn right here towards Lairg. Then at the junction of the A839 to Lairg you do not take it, but continue straight to the Bonar Bridge. Then turn left before the bridge to the Falls of Shin.

From Kyle of Durness the A838 goes directly along Loch Shin. Shortly before Lairg, it meets the A836, onto which you turn right and drive through Lairg. Almost at the end of Lairg there is a bridge on the right over the River Shin - this is the A839 to Ullapool. Over the bridge and then immediately left again onto the road to the parking lot of the Falls of Shin Visitor Center.