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...

Countryfile Magazine - - Contents -


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

Keith Fer­gus is a writer who lives in Glas­gow and es­capes to the High­lands when­ever he can.

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