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As one of the UK’s highest waterfalls, Grey Mare’s Tail is spectacular beyond belief. The Grey Mare’s Tail walk to Loch Skeen follows the course of the waterfall as it cascades 60m into the valley below. Only 1-hour drive from Dumfries and Galloway, and just a few minutes from the pretty town of Moffat, this walking route climbs past the falls and continues up to beautiful Loch Skeen, surrounded by rugged hills and mountains. This really is one breath-taking walk! Read on for the guide to hiking the Grey Mare’s Tail, with all the insider info you need to plan your walk.
Start/Finish – Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve
Distance – 2.85 miles total
Time Required – Approx. 2-3 hours – allow plenty of time to enjoy the views
Parking – Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve Car Park – £3 all day
Ascent – Different sources report different ascents, but approx. 278-296m
Public Transport – Not accessible via public transport
Facilities – None at trailhead, nearest town is Moffat
Difficulty – 2/5 – Steep ascent for first half, terrain is uneven
Grey Mare’s Tail Walking Route Guide
From the Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve Car Park, continue along the path away from the main road and cross a wooden foot bridge. The area is owned by the National Trust for Scotland with an information trailer open during the summer season – it was closed when we visited in December. Here you’ll enjoy your first glimpse of the cascading waterfalls tumbling down the mountain from its source at Loch Skeen. The footpath continues up the hill side keeping the waterfalls on your left-hand side, beginning a fairly steep ascent for the first half of the hike.
From here, the views get more spectacular with each step. The ascent is steep at first, but over soon enough. After about 20 minutes walking uphill, the trail plateaus out to a more leisurely walk following the contours of the hillside and path of the waterfalls. The first part of the hike is definitely the hardest, but not too difficult due to the short nature of the ascent and the fact you’ll have plenty of time to get your breath back as you stop to marvel at the incredible scenery.
Hiking in December meant there was a lot of ice on the ground, and many icicles hanging from the waterfalls, which made for a stunning winter wonderland! While absolutely beautiful, it did mean we had to be careful as it was very slippery under foot at times.
Following the path, you’ll keep the river and waterfalls on your left-hand side and continue through stunning rugged scenery. You’ll start to see mountains in the distance, which is your target destination with Loch Skeen at the foot.
When you finally reach the loch, you’ll turn a blind corner and gasp as the valley opens out to reveal an incredible loch, surrounded by mountains and hills. When we visited in December, the loch was completely frozen, which made for some stunning views and some fun ice skimming across the frozen lake. The scheduled walking route ends here, following the same path back to the car, or you can continue on a circular walk around the loch for a longer and more challenging hike if you have enough daylight and energy left.
Wildlife at Grey Mare’s Tail
Wildlife enthusiasts should be on the look out for nesting peregrine falcons, wild goats and the odd osprey fishing in the loch. The loch is also home to the UK’s rarest freshwater fish, the vendace.
While hiking, we didn’t see any peregrine falcons or osprey unfortunately, but on our way to the trail in the car, we did see a buzzard and 4 herons next to a lake that all took flight together – possibly grey herons, but they weren’t close enough to tell and we didn’t have binoculars.
Grey Mare’s Tail Walking Route Safety Tips
The Grey Mare’s Tail walk is safe and easy to follow. The path is well constructed but uneven and rocky. There are areas where the drop to the side of the path is steep and could be difficult for those with a fear of heights, but the path is not dangerous. Sturdy walking boots with good grip are important. The trail is short and you can be back at the car within 1 hour, but it’s always a good idea to take plenty of snacks and water and let someone at home know where you’re going to be. In addition, the weather can change abruptly in Scotland, so always check the forecast and plan for every eventuality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to hike Grey Mare’s Tail in winter?
While I can’t speak for every month in winter, we hiked in early December on a cold but crisp and sunny day. There were patches of snow and alot of ice on the ground, which meant we had to tread carefully in places, but it was safe and there were plenty of other hikers around too. It would be much less safe in very bad weather, such as heavy rain, snow and fog, so it depends on the forecast on the day.
Where can I park when hiking Grey Mare’s Tail?
You can park at the National Trust owned Grey Mare’s Tail car park. Parking costs £3.00 all day but is free for National Trust members. When we visited in December, the payment machine was out of order.
Is the hike accessible by public transport?
The hike is not accessible by public transport directly. The nearest town is Moffat is serviced by the X74 coach service which runs from Glasgow to Moffat. The nearest train station is in Lockerbie, which is on the main line from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow and is 16 miles south of Moffat. There is a bus service from Lockerbie to Moffat or, alternatively, you can book a taxi with Moffat Taxis (01683 221666).
What amenities and facilities are available nearby?
There are no facilities or amenities such as toilets at the trailhead. The nearest town is Moffat and there are a variety of pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes available.
If you’re looking for accommodation close to the trailhead, we have you covered…
The Old Stables – Budget hotel in Moffat, with a garden, free parking, a terrace and a restaurant. Average price £70 per night.
Balmoral Hotel – Fully licensed inn offering food in the heart of Moffat.
Annandale Arms Hotel – Just outside Moffat, offering an award-winning restaurant and comfortable rooms.
Warriston Apartment at Holm Park – Large and beautiful 2-bedroom apartment for up to 6 people.
Heading to Scotland? Drop any questions you have in the comments!
For more Scotland guides and posts, check out our Scotland archives.