Last week we stumbled on a gorgeous waterfall and Charlie’s Cave just a stone’s throw from Stirling!
A recent lazy Saturday turned into an unexpected adventure when we discovered a beautiful waterfall and beauty spot just a short drive from Stirling.
The Touch Glen waterfall, also known as Gilmour’s Linn, is an absolute stunner. The cave behind it, Charlie’s Cave, is just as interesting because of its links to the Bonny Prince Charlie. Intrigued? So was I!
The day after the night before
So why did we decide to visit the Gilmour Linn waterfall and Charlie’s Cave? Well, we’d had a few friends round on the day of the Queen’s Jubilee to make the most out of having a cheeky day off. Waking up on Saturday, we were all a bit tired and not feeling up to much.
However, the weather was gorgeous and we wanted to make the most out of it. Great weather doesn’t come along often in Scotland so you have to grab it with both hands when it does, right? With that in mind, we started looking up walks near my home in Stirling.
But we had a strict list of criteria, mostly because we were feeling tired!
- It had to be not that much of a drive away – half an hour tops
- It had to be on the leisurely side – we weren’t feeling up to any steep hills
- There had to be water. It was gloriously hot, so cooling off would be needed!
This led to us finding Charlie’s Cave and Gilmour’s Linn. It was only a few minute’s-drive away and, just to emphasise, there was a waterfall. Less than half an hour from where I live!
Getting to the Gilmour Linn Waterfall
Luckily for us the good ol’ sat nav did most of the heavy lifting for us. It only took us a few minutes to get there and the directions were spot on.
We arrived at an old waterworks building and parked the car at the side of the dirt track. We turned right and walked past a building surrounded by an electric fence. A man working in the building that was surrounded by it cheerfully announced “it’s on”, and it took me a second to realise what he meant. Ohhhh. The electric fence was on.
Of course, I instantly started thinking of Jurassic Park and thinking about the children being blasted off that fence. Luckily, he was much more cheery than his opening gambit may have suggested and he next asked us if we were looking for the waterfall.
He clearly recognised our hapless not-really-sure-what-we’re-doing faces. He gave us some great directions, most of which I’d forgotten as soon as he’d finished talking. Luckily, the rest of our group seemed to be able to retain the information better than I was.
We walked through a gate and down to the cottage ahead of us… and then another helpful person gave us a refresher on the directions. She basically told us to follow the quad bike tracks, so that’s what we did up a steep grassy slope.
Eventually, we went through another gate and turned right and walked through a field for a while. And just when we were starting to get a bit hot and tired of walking we could faintly hear the rush of water from the waterfall.
We crossed over one more stile and then we were traipsing down through the undergrowth and there was the beautiful white spout of the Gilmour Linn waterfall in front of us. It was just so lovely. Despite it beating down with hot sunshine everywhere else it was shady and secluded in this spot, like a little pocket of deliciously cool tranquillity.
Behind the spout of the waterfall is a cave, which is known as Charlie’s Cave. It’s called this because Bonnie Prince Charlie is alleged to have hidden there in 1746 after he was defeated in the Battle of Culloden, which was said to have ended the last Jacobite Rising.
But why here? Well, the cave is located on the Touch estate and that estate is owned by the Seton family, a notable Jacobite family who were supporters of Bonny Prince Charlie. And so it makes sense that he came where when he wanted to keep a low profile. But Prince Charlie seems to be a fan of caves – there are tons of caves he’s reportedly hidden in at some point or other all over Scotland.
Wild swimming in the waterfall
So the cave is great if you’re interested in Scottish history. It’s also a great spot if you’re into wild swimming. Although I can’t say I have more than a casual interest in both and I had a good time, so maybe let’s just say it’s a crowd-pleaser if you like the outdoors in Scotland.
So… what was the temperature of the water like? I could class it as bloody Baltic, as we say in Scotland! It took numerous attempts before I could talk myself into going in.
First, I dipped my toe in while we were beneath the waterfall and was shocked at how cold it was. I then went in from the other side and managed to get up to my waist, but that was quite enough for me. I got out and was happy just to leave it there but I then I got talked around. Everyone else had gone in by that point so the clichés were rolling out in force.
‘It doesn’t count unless you go all the way in.’
‘If you don’t do it you’ll regret it.’
‘It’s just like the Kravice Waterfalls in Bosnia, you would have regretted it if you didn’t do that.’
You get the picture. My sister had also been watching a TV show all about swimming in icy temperatures. She kept telling me that swimming in cold water is all just a state of mind and you just have to channel your inner zen or something. Do ye aye?!
Anyway, I must be very weak-willed as that was enough to conjure up the FOMO inside of me and finally compelled me to go in. And actually, once I’d had my legs in the water it didn’t feel as cold as it had done the first time. I managed to get myself fully in, finally!
It was actually really lovely to be splashing around in this waterfall only a short car ride from my home. I didn’t go full hair shampoo advert and get my hair wet under the waterfall, but the boys did. I think up to the neck was quite enough for me.
Anything you should bring to the Touch Glen waterfall?
I would definitely bring swimming shoes if you have them. The surface is so uneven and even when you’re back on land it’s not very easy to walk on. Because I was so cold when I came out of the water I felt like I didn’t have proper use of my limbs!
A swimming costume and towel are also essentials and, luckily, I remembered both this time. I remember on our recent trip to Dubrovnik we did a day trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina and visited the Kravice Waterfall, which I mentioned earlier. But because I was only planning on paddling I only brought a hand towel from the hotel. It wasn’t easy to paddle because the shore steeps down sharply, though. I ended up going fully in and then having to try myself with what felt like a handkerchief!
I would love to visit here again and I might see if there are any more waterfalls in the nearby area! Does anyone know of any?