Walks & Waterfalls

a multi media cross platform project, blending fine art photography & literature, with a guide book ethos and treasure trail app


Walks & Waterfalls is a way of discovering and re-discovering Scotland through a unique interactive experience mapping out hidden paths, unearthing hidden histories, re-discovering great spectacle of Scotland’s nature and cultural heritage through the medium of photography literature and cross platform interactive design.

Whilst Munro bagging has been a Scottish attraction since the 70’s, It is a little known fact that the Victorians have been ‘bagging’ waterfalls since the turn of last century. There are well over 800 falls compared to a mere 282 munro’s and and whilst generally you will have to travel to the highlands to catch a munro, waterfalls surprisingly are all round. From the centre of Glasgow to the Lothians; from Highlands & Islands to the lowlands & Borders, we are surrounded by them.

Waterfalls have long held a certain mystique, where spirits reside and myths are born. Names like; Wailing Window; the Devils Cauldron; Holy Linn and Fairy Glen further reflected their mythical status.

Falls were often the haunt of Covenanters, fugitives throughout the ages seem to have found the waterfalls attractive. Rob Roy famously has the Falloch fall named after him as “Rob Roy’s bathtub” and “John Knox’s Pulpit”, a cave where Knox allegedly preached his sermons has its associated falls next it.

Through the ages, the myths diminished, and the ancient locations of many falls, were forgotten. The age of reason brought with it a more skeptical approach to mythology and religion, but ironically this new scientific and rigorous approach to all matters including cartography, helped to re-discover the locations to some of these hidden falls.

After the battle of Culloden, William Roy was commissioned to map Scottish highlands, the first Ordinance Survey map of its kind. Grid references, initially as a military need for small-scale maps, located and exposed the exact positions and contours of the land and marked secret of caves and falls alike.

But it wasn’t until the great writers; Dickens, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott started writing about them, that the Victorian tourists came flocking to see the waterfalls of Scotland, and there was no more dedicated tourist than Queen Victoria herself. Her journals convey here sense of wonder at the beauties of Scotland and she has indeed a fall named after her. Ironically the falls that bear her name were felt to be somewhat inferior to theres she had sought out :-

Here we first took tea and then got out and scrambled up a steep bank to look at a waterfall, a pretty one, but very inferior to those in our neighbourhood at Balmoral.”

Turner and Milais painted them; Scott used the falls of Gelnfinglas & Campsie Linn as settings for his works; Wordsworth will always be associated with the falls of Falloch, and Coleridge put the Falls of Foyers on the map.

Perhaps the most famous description is that in ‘Kidnapped’ where Stevenson describes the crossing of a falls in Glencoe, and of course we can’t forget the national bard, Robert Burns, who dedicated many a poem to Scottish falls and wrote about them incessantly; –

“After breakfast we made a party to go and see Cauldron Linn, a remarkable cascade in the Devon about five miles from Harviestoun, and after spending one of the most pleasant days I have ever had in my life, I returned to Stirling in the evening”

So writes Robert Burns writes in a letter in 1787 of the Cauldron Linn fall. That very spot, where the railway lines once took hoards of day trippers to see the spectacle of the falls, lies once again hidden from view. The rail track is now derelict and the only way of accessing the falls, is through farmyards, making your way to the river and following the overgrown railway track to the foot of the falls. Not even detailed maps can reveals its now secret location.

Like the king found in a carpark, these hidden gems can often be found in the unlikeliest locations; by the side of a motor way, near city centres and up hidden paths, in the last great wilderness of Scotland. It’s only a matter of finding them. Walks and Waterfalls does exactly that. A specially designed app will allow users to find hidden falls not even marked on current OS maps.

Together with painstaking research by Louis Stott, Walks and Waterfalls presents  a definitive guide to the Waterfalls of Scotland detailing hidden histories, secret locations and co-ordinates of over 800 waterfalls.

Walks & Waterfalls sets out to re-discover the victorian passion, maps out hidden locations and paths to over 800 waterfalls unearthing lost histories; myths; poems and stories associated with them and inviting current authors and artists to respond to them as once the Victorians did. Alongside the ‘coffee table’ Walks & Waterfalls book, a dedicated treasure app will locate every single fall, sparking off a treasure hunt not unlike the near mythic ‘Masquerade’ of the 1970’s.

The app marks out not just the falls, but also the associated walks, taking the user through some of the most spectacular country side in Scotland. The app will highlight spots for wild swimming, historical significance and points of natural interest.

Together the book, app and dedicated website, Walks and Waterfalls presents a unique cross platform blend of art and design rarely seen in publishing.