The Hermitage

Hermitage ossians hall

When I traveled to Scotland two years ago, one of my must-see stops was Dunkeld. I wanted to visit the ancient cathedral, but I also wanted to head across the River Tay to hike to the Hermitage, a gorgeous woodland landscape.

Of course, when I finally arrived, I was between lodgings and thus had all my luggage with me. Granted, I traveled with just a purse and a backpack, but the load was heavy, the day was misty, and there was no way I was going to hike “a mile or so” on unknown terrain with such a burden. So I scratched it off my list with real regret, expecting I’d never again have the chance to see it.

When I started planning this year’s holiday, though, the Hermitage returned to my must-see list — and close to the top of my hiking goals list. So I arranged a three-night stop in Perth to allow me the time to explore some Perthshire walks I’d had to pass up before.

birnam riverside bench

For my first full day in Perthshire, I hopped a bus to Birnam, deciding to stop off on the same side of the river this time. I wandered first along the River Tay (more about that in another post), then turned and headed cross country to Inver and on to the car park for the Hermitage off the A9. Just that distance alone was well over a mile, making me glad I only had my shoulder bag this time.

Hermitage big tree path

I followed the trail along the River Braan, enjoying the morning light playing on the water and the leaves. It led me back past enormously tall fir and larch trees (among others) until I found a bench at the river’s bend.

Hermitage bridge retro

A little further down the path, I saw a high stone footbridge and heard a thundering waterfall behind it, so I wandered off the main path (but still over well-trod ground and rocks) for a view. The Black Linn Falls are impressive to see and hear, even when viewed from above. But the most impressive view was yet to come…

Hermitage falls HDR

I climbed back up to the trail and then a little more to the entrance of Ossian’s Hall (top photo). Built as a garden folly by the 3rd Duke of Atholl in the 1770s (and rebuilt in the 1950s after it was vandalized), the hall has two chambers: one sound-proofed, and one with glass doors that open to a balcony over the falls. Not only do you get a great view, you also get that impressive crashing impact, moving from silence to roar, that the Duke liked to spring on his guests. (Though how they failed to notice the waterfall while wandering outside, I have no idea.)

Hermitage upstream

I continued upstream for other views of the falls and the river as well as for a glimpse of Ossian’s Cave, another folly (and one I failed to find). Other trails run through the area, and I would have loved to explore more, but at that point I could feel the ache and decided to head back to Birnam — and on to Dunkeld, across the river — before losing steam.

But that’s another one of my Scottish hiking goals — and a beautiful one at that! — checked off!




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