There is something magical (and a little bit spooky) about the drive to Loch Arkaig. After a sharp turn away from the exposed shores of Loch Lochy, the narrow road meanders through The Dark Mile, a long line of beech trees that completely cut out any light. We drive through a tunnel of towering, interwoven trees and past crumbling stone walls completely covered in spongy green moss. As we emerge into daylight again we are greeted by the bewitching sight of Eas Chia-aig waterfall, cascading down the steep valley and framed by the golden colours of autumn.
Stepping into the black, churning water, it is easy to understand why this waterfall also goes by the name of ‘The Witches Cauldron’. Legend has it that an old hag once was accused of casting her evil eye over the local cattle, causing them to fall seriously ill and die. But when the witch fell into the dark pool, the cattle miraculously began to recover from their illness. Lovely!
The surface of the water is restless and choppy. It is like swimming through a bubbling pot of tar - although rather colder than I would imagine that would feel! It is late October and the chill of the water is enough to take your breath away.
I only allow myself a quick dunk in the lower waterfall pool this time, sticking close to the edge and being careful not to swim too close to the heavy flow of the main cascade. I can’t wait to return for another swim when the flow of the falls is a little less feisty!