Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve
Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve
The Grey Mare's Tail is a spectacular 200-foot waterfall, tumbling down a steep drop from Loch Skeen to the valley of Moffat Water far below. The waterfall is just part of a National Trust for Scotland nature reserve, offering fabulous upland scenery and walking opportunities.
From the visitor centre off the A708 you can take a 10-minute walk for a good viewpoint of the falls. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous you can tackle the ascent of White Combe, the highest hill in Dumfries-shire at 2694 feet. From the summit, you get even better views of the waterfall. Or you can take the trail that leads directly past the falls, beside Tail Burn, to Loch Skeen itself.

The Grey Mare's Tail is the 5th highest waterfall in Britain, tumbling down from a hanging valley in a spectacular landscape setting. Sir Walter Scott was impressed by the falls, for he was moved to write a poem extolling their virtues:

Where deep deep down, and far within
Toils with the rocks the roaring linn;
Then issuing forth one foamy wave,
And wheeling round the giant's grave
White as the snowy charger's tail
Drives down the pass of Moffatdale.

There is much more to the nature reserve than just the waterfall, however. The reserve is home to rare upland flora and a wealth of wildlife including wild goats which you can often see clinging to the steep-sided slopes. The reserve has been named a Special Area of Conservation and is a magnet for hill-walkers, botanists, and birdwatchers keen to spot peregrines or ravens.

And there's ancient history in the reserve; take a walk to see 'Giant's Grave', which has nothing to do with giants and isn't even a grave! It is instead an Iron Age earthwork, and more properly known as Tail Burn fort.

But even that name may be misleading for it may not be a fort at all, but a turf enclosure made for ritual observances. The Iron Age inhabitants were not the only ones to make use of the remoteness of the area; in the turmoil of the late 17th-century religious upheavals a group of Covenanters sought refuge here.

There are guided walks in summer, but the main walking trails are very well maintained and worth taking at any time.

Don't mistake this Grey Mare's Tail for another waterfall of the same name in Galloway Forest Park, well to the west.