Birks of Aberfeldy
The Birks of Aberfeldy bestow perhaps the finest array of autumn colour this side of Vermont, reckons Keith Fergus. Robert Burns surely agreed...
There betterin autumnis place perhapsthanto walkno Perthshire in the Scottish Highlands. Dubbed Big Tree Country, it has wonderful seasonal foliage with beech, oak, rowan and birch trees showing spectacular shades of oranges, reds and yellows.
A popular destination is the Birks of Aberfeldy, a gorgeous woodland split in two by the dramatic Moness Burn, set near the bustling and attractive town of Aberfeldy itself. This magnificent forest offers a good habitat for forest birds such as green and great spotted woodpeckers, treecreepers, dippers and sparrowhawks.
The name relates to the birch (birk) trees that make up a good portion of the forest. Originally known as the Den of Moness, it was renamed after Robert Burns visited in 1787 and wrote his poem The Birks of Aberfeldy after sitting beside the waterfalls.
Superbly maintained paths hug both banks of the Moness Burn, where waterfalls cascade down through the cavernous gorge. No wonder Burns was inspired.
A spectacular two-mile walk begins from the Birks of Aberfeldy lower car park, a short distance from the town centre. Climb to the upper car park and then keep right when the path splits. Follow this south, high above the western bank of the Moness Burn, revelling in the scenery.
Continue to climb for approximately one mile to reach a flight of steps on the left at the top of the ascent. Descend these to cross a bridge over the Moness Burn, which provides a breathtaking view of the Moness Falls that drop vertically beneath the bridge down into the yawning chasm below.
At the far end of the bridge sweep right then left and descend the eastern side of the gorge. In a while steeper sections zigzag down steps into the gorge with the crystal clear waters of the burn below.
In due course a footbridge crosses a burn and passes one more remarkable waterfall. Beyond another footbridge, the route continues by a statue of Robert Burns. The path, more gentle now, reaches a final footbridge. Turn left, cross the bridge over the Moness Burn, turn right onto the outwardbound path and retrace your steps back to the start.
“The braes ascend like lofty wa’s, The foaming stream deep-roaring fa’s, O’erhung wi’ fragrant spreading shaws, The Birks of Aberfeldy” ROBERT BURNS
Stroll alongside Moness Burn through delightful autumn woodland at the Birks of Aberfeldy, and poetic inspiration is bound to follow