ON THE information board at the car park for The Hermitage near Dunkeld it says this spot has been a tourist attraction for 200 years, and no wonder.
Crashing waterfalls, some of the tallest trees in Britain and 18th-century follies built to honour the legendary bard Ossian keep interest high along the way.
With water dripping from the ceiling, Ossian’s Cave hardly seems an appealing place, even for a hermit. But for young children it is a great spot to aim for, providing an incentive for little legs to keep going.
Landslips have seen a major blockage on the network of paths around Dunkeld, but the Hermitage can still be enjoyed to the full, especially as autumn colours start to appear. And an extension to Rumbling Bridge allows you to reach some open ground and a view across the forest.
DISTANCE 3 miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 350ft.
TIME 1∫ hours.
MAP OS Landranger 52 or 53.
PARK There is a National Trust for Scotland car park just north of Dunkeld on the A9.
IN SUMMARY Go to the far end of the car park and take a path on the left, next to the River Braan, which goes below the Perth/Inverness railway line.
After a path has joined from the right, go left at a fork to stay next to the river, which becomes increasingly turbulent. Before you get to Hermitage Bridge it is worth taking a narrow path, through rhododendrons, which leads underneath the bridge to reach a view up Black Linn Falls – do take care of the drops down rocks.
Rejoin the main path to reach the top of the bridge, which you can cross but are unable go any further because of landslips. Above the bridge is Ossian’s Hall, which you can enter and, from a balcony, get the best view of the falls.
Follow the path beyond the hall and higher up go left at a fork. Further up go left at another fork to stay close to the river. A jumble of rocks on the left are known as Ossian’s Seat and just beyond is Ossian’s Cave, on the right.
Keep right at the cave to begin a return, but to lengthen the walk and see another impressive waterfall take a path on the left. This leads upstream then veers away from the river and climbs steadily. Go left at a signpost to cross a footbridge over a tributary of the River Braan then, once through a metal gate, cross open hillside. The path leads to a country lane where you go left to drop down to Rumbling Bridge.
After enjoying the giddy view down the waterfall, retrace your steps back to Ossian’s Cave and take the path on the left. This drops down to a junction where you go right to pass a totem pole carved from a tree. Go left at the next junction, unless you want to go right for a second visit to Ossian’s Hall. The path down reaches a fork – go left or right to walk back the final hundred yards or so to the car park.
REFRESH There is a wide choice in Dunkeld and Birnam.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA The 14th-century Dunkeld Cathedral sits in a wonderful position, next to the River Tay (www.dunkeldcathedral.org.uk)
The Birnam Institute includes the Beatrix Potter Museum and Garden – the author once lived on the other side of the Tay from Birnam (www.birnaminstitute.com). n