Forest Walks

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Forest Walks and Cycle Paths at Falls of Shin

A further attraction of the Falls of Shin Visitor Centre is the large network of forest paths which lead from it and these are suitable for both walking and family cycling.

With our large car park between the visitor centre and the entrance to the forest paths, Falls of Shin is the perfect base for walking and cycling in the Scottish Highlands, and not least because of all the facilities we have for when you return from your exercise!

The forest at Falls of Shin is owned and managed by the Forestry Commission, who we work closely with to ensure our visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.

The forest walks and cycle paths are all relatively easy and therefore ideal for families. However, longer routes can also be taken from the centre for those looking for something more strenuous.

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Once into the forest at Falls of Shin there’s plenty to enjoy and see, with rugged play areas installed for children along the way and plenty of wildlife to catch the eye.

The wildlife is very varied, with many Highland forest bird species present such as Crossbill, Siskin and Goldcrest. Many species of mammal are also present, including the somewhat elusive Pine Martin which could be glimpsed if you’re walking first thing in the morning or evening.

All the forest paths are clearly marked and there is full information about the forest and routes on signage just after the Falls of Shin car park and before you enter the forest.

The Salmon Leap & life cycle of the salmon

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When the glaciers melted after the last Ice Age in the UK, the Highland landscape was formed, creating valleys and lochs. Erosion by debris, boulders and gravel led to the formation of the River Shin and the spectacular waterfalls.

The River Shin is one of the great salmon rivers in Scotland and is one of the rivers, including that of the Cassley and Carron that run into the River Oykel.

The surrounding area consists of many hills and a large number of streams and burns bring water down to form the river. The water appears slightly brown due to the peaty soil.

The water in the River Shin is fresh water and is superbly clean, the perfect conditions for the Atlantic salmon and other fish such as trout that require a constant flow of fresh water.

The Falls of Shin are a natural feature of the River Shin, next to the visitor centre. Visitors each year can watch Atlantic Salmon battle to return to their place of birth to spawn the next salmon generation.

Salmon Life Cycle

The life cycle of the salmo salar, the wild Atlantic salmon is extraordinary with the fish enduring great extremes throughout their lives.

It is in late autumn that the cycle begins with the cock fish (male parent) fertilising the thousands of eggs which the female has laid in a “REDD” or hollow of fine gravel at the top of the river near its source. The parent fish, now called ‘kelts’, cover up the eggs and drift back down- stream and back out to sea.

The eggs, or OVA remain in the gravel for about five months, before hatching out into alevins. Having survived on the yolk sacs of their eggs, the baby fish (now called fry) start their lives by moving into the river, feeding on the tiny organisms that live in the river. With the constant threat of predatory fish and birds as well as flooding, about a quarter of the original hatch will not survive.

The fry that have survived grow to become three or four inch long parr and then …