Another of the items on my ‘bucket list‘ was to ‘visit a waterfall’. I didn’t expect that to be a major challenge because we have always enjoyed short walks in the forest to visit waterfalls. At the same time we were going to be away for 12 weeks and had no specific plans for waterfall visits in that time unlike some previous trips such as our 2012 visit to the USA and Canada that included Niagara Falls.
Despite that lack of early planning to visit waterfalls in Europe, a pass through my photographs from that trip turned up more than 30 photographs of ‘waterfalls’ from 13 locations. If I assume that a ‘visit to a waterfall’ implies intention then some of the happenstance encounters with waterfalls might not count but there are enough where we made a conscious effort to allow me to tick that item off my list. I’m going to take this opportunity to work through my photographic evidence.
Four days in Paris and four weeks in Brittany and Normandy included no visits to real waterfalls. Paris has a river, ponds and fountains but is hardly a natural environment endowed with waterfalls. Brittany and Normandy have few places with enough elevation to produce a respectable waterfall. The highest point in Brittany is less than 400 m and is not much higher than Mont Bel Air (339 m) near Trébry. We walked a circuit from Mont Bel Air and back while we were staying at Trébry and did see some minor cascades but nothing approaching a waterfall. The nearest we came to seeing a waterfall in France was on our last full day when we visited Château de Vascoeuil. The stream running through the estate had been trained for purposes including driving a mill wheel and there was an ornamental cascade which, even in the unlikely event it qualified as a waterfall, should probably not count because it was not the object of our visit.
Our Sunday in the English Lake District included our first intentional visit to a waterfall when we walked the trail to Stock Ghyll Force. Neither of us had seen force used for a waterfall previously though on reflection it seems a reasonable word to describe the effect of water falling from a height onto something below. Later in the day we chanced upon Moss Force at Newlands Pass in a more remote part of the Lake District. My photography skills are not always up to achieving the effect that I would like with waterfalls, the classic silky smooth look. That requires a long exposure to smooth the water while avoiding overexposing the rest of the scene and losing all detail from the water. Sometimes I get lucky and this one was not too bad.
Later that week as we drove north from Edinburgh toward Inverness and the famous Kombi, we paused at the House of Bruar on the recommendation of our Edinburgh hosts, Cathy and Charles Michie. We enjoyed lunch there and spent some time in the shops before tramping up the hill to see the Falls of Bruar. It was an enjoyable walk through picturesque woods and the stream was crossed by a couple of impressive stone bridges. The water was coloured brown by the peat from which it evidently flowed further up the hill but I did manage to achieve a respectable blur effect in some of my waterfall shots.
We saw a small cascade on our walk around the Glen Grant distillery gardens the following day but it was neither the target of our visit nor big enough to count as a waterfall. Our next real waterfall sighting was at Smoo Cave as we drove across the north of Scotland heading for the west coast. Access to the cave required a short trip in an inflatable boat past the waterfall the fed the pool through a hole in the roof. The waterfall was worth a visit but, since we had come to see the cave, it might not count for this purpose.
By that criterion, none of the next few waterfalls we saw on our European adventure would count, because they just happened to be somewhere that we visited for other reasons. That applies to the streams tumbling down the sides of Loch Shiel as we cruised by, the waterfall near the Massacre Cave on the cliffs of Eigg, the streams tumbling down the sides of Glencoe, and the rapids on our Dovedale walk in the Peaks District. The waterfalls that we saw on our Swiss excursion to the Emosson barrage and Gorges du Triège with Marie-Françoise and Roland fell into the same category of welcome bonuses on a visit to something else.
We did make a deliberate detour on our drive from Switzerland to Germany to visit Rheinfall. Admittedly it had not been part of our plan for that day. My original intention had been to go over the Alps from the Rhone Valley, descend into Liechtenstein, and drive around the eastern end of Lake Constanz. Instead we went under the Alps, through Lucerne, and around the western end of the lake. Along the way we saw signs to Rheinfall and opted to visit. The fall is more impressive for the volume of water rushing by than for its height. The low light conditions caused by heavy storm clouds that opened up on us as we were about to leave probably helped with avoiding over exposure in my photograph and I managed to capture the silky look I was going for.
All of these visits to waterfalls were serendipitous sidelights to other activities. Most of them happened in the course of doing whatever else we had planned to do but three involved a deliberate effort to visit a waterfall once we became aware that it was there for visiting. I think that is sufficient to justify ticking off another item on my ‘bucket list‘.