CHRISTMAS walks with the family can be one of the highlights of this time of year. If all generations are to be considered, a full-scale crampon and ice axe exercise is probably off limits but that doesn’t mean you can’t stretch your legs and enjoy some wonderful scenery.
In the autumn, Faskally Wood near Pitlochry is turned into the “Enchanted Forest”, a great sound and light show which has enthralled my daughter and me for the past few years.
In “real life” the forest is just as enchanting, with tall pines bordering two lochs nestled below the Perthshire hills.
The bigger loch – Faskally – is actually a reservoir and part of Scotland’s network of hydro-electric schemes. The smaller, Loch Dunmore, was an ornamental centrepiece of the grounds of Faskally House, where in the 19th century many forestry techniques were pioneered.
The idea of forestry fills some walkers with dread because of the image of rows and rows of trees planted as a crop. At Faskally, the age of the trees leads to a different feel and the presence of nature is there. Besides, pine trees are an important part of Christmas.
I have been assured a kingfisher is a regular at Loch Dunmore – sit on the first bench you pass next to the water and wait to see it above the reed beds. Even if the elusive bird doesn’t appear it is a great place to sit and enjoy the scenery for a while.
DISTANCE 2 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 160ft.
TIME 1 to 1∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 52.
PARK Just north of Pitlochry turn off the A9 on to the B8019 and head towards Killiecrankie. After only about 400 yards go left, at a Forestry Commission sign for Faskally. Once on the access road, go left to follow it round to a parking area near a toilet block.
Drop down the access road from the parking area and at the bottom take a path on the left – starting by an information board. At a junction of paths go left, up a steep bank which leads to a path through pines – spaced widely enough that you don’t feel hemmed in. (The bench where you can sometimes see a kingfisher is to the right of the junction.)
Once up the steep bank, another path joins from the right and then, at a signpost, you should go straight ahead. The path swings to the right as it nears Loch Faskally then drops down steps as to get close to the water. Go right at the bottom and follow the loch’s edge until it nears reed beds where the path goes right. At a junction go left and drop down to cross a small burn before climbing up and around the side of Dunmore Hill.
You then drop down to Loch Dunmore. Look for a path going down to the right and follow it to get next to the loch. At the bottom go right to follow another path along the water’s edge, right around the loch. Don’t cross a bridge over the water then, once you have rounded the top of the loch, you reach the junction passed near the start. Keep on the main path to retrace your steps to the start.
REFRESH There is a wide choice in Pitlochry.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA Pitlochry is worth wandering around and just above it is Edradour, the smallest distillery in Scotland. It offers tastings and tours.