Langwell Water gently meanders down from the edge of the Flow Country in the interior, eventually reaching Berriedale gorge. Here, where the sides of the glen converge, the river has carved out a precipitous canyon that funnels water through a narrow passage only a few meters wide – quite a spectacle when the river is full!
Langwell Water is a popular river for salmon fishing, but it is a little-known fact that it is also home to one of Caithness’ most spectacular vistas. To reach the gorge, park at the River Bothy Café and make your way on foot up the private road into the forest. Shortly, you will come to an arched stone bridge – a remarkable sight in its own right. Do not cross the bridge, instead making your way downstream along the riverbank. There is no clear path here and the banks are high, so use caution as you follow the river. You might hear the gushing of water before the gorge emerges before you!
The River Berriedale finds its source far in the county’s interior, where the Flow Country spreads out from the foothills of Caithness’ highest peak, Morven. From here, it gently meanders through the high sides of the Glen of Berriedale, before being funnelled through the narrow gorge at the head of the glen. In the winter, when the river is in spate due to heavy rain or melting snow, the height of the river can rise dramatically due to its inability to pass through the gorge fast enough. The surrounding hillsides are covered in rich mixed broadleaf forests, which make for spectacular views up the glen.
A markerboard placed on the side of the gorge shows the highest recorded depth of the river: nearly 7 meters from the riverbed!