Walk of the week: Doon Hill, Aberfoyle
For the Rev Robert Kirk, an interest in the magical life of the little creatures had an unfortunate end, apparently. The minister at Kirkton Church from 1685 to 1692 wrote a book, The Secret Commonwealth Of Elves, Fauns And Fairies, but his revelations incurred the wrath of the sprites and he was captured on Doon Hill.
The minister was taken to the land of the fairies. Some say his body was placed inside a tree on top of the hill. A substitute body (dead) was placed on the ground by the fairies, locals mistook it for the minister and buried it in the nearby cemetery.
Nowadays, ribbons are tied to trees and offerings to the fairies are placed on the ground at the top of Doon Hill.
A walk up the hill is a good way to keep interest levels high in young children and pleasant for all.
DISTANCE 3∫ miles.
HEIGHT CLIMBED 200ft.
TIME 1∫ to 2 hours.
MAP OS Landranger 57.
PARK The Riverside Car Park is in the centre of Aberfoyle behind the Tourist Information Centre.
IN SUMMARY Walk to the west end of the car park (to the right as you drive in) and turn left over the small stone bridge which crosses the River Forth. Go straight ahead, along the road and past Kirkton Cemetery, the last resting place of the Rev Kirk.
The road then bears left, crosses a small bridge and reaches a fork. Go left here to reach a green, metal gate. On the other side of the gate follow a track up a short rise to a sign for Doon Hill, where you go left to enter woodland on a path.
The path gains height and starts to climb steeply – at a fork keep left. The path then swings round to the right to reach the top of the hill, where you will find ribbon strewn trees in honour of the fairies.
Return to a marker post just below the top and go straight ahead – instead of going left, on the path you went up on. The path down loops down to a track, where you go left. You go left again on reaching another track and pass the sign for the hill followed earlier.
Keep on the track which bears right and drops to a bridge. On the other side of the bridge go left at a junction of tracks then go left again on reaching a sign for Aberfoyle. A large wooden footbridge leads over the River Forth and then to a path between fields.
On reaching a track go left to follow the bed of a former railway which ran between Glasgow and Aberfoyle until the 1950s. This leads all the way back to the car park in the centre of Aberfoyle.
REFRESH There are a number of tearooms and pubs in Aberfoyle but for a real treat try a bacon buttie from the Aberfoyle Delicatessen & Trossachs Butcher – on the other side of the entrance to the car park from the Tourist Information Centre.
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE AREA On the A821 road to the Duke’s Pass (above Aberfoyle) is the David Marshall Lodge Visitor Centre (www.forestry.gov.uk) where there are trails and wildlife information, as well as a tearoom. Next door is a Go Ape centre (www.goape.co.uk) with rope bridges, Tarzan swings and a zip slide.
The Scottish Wool Centre (www.scottishwoolcentre.co.uk) is next to the car park. You can learn all about the product, as well as the chance to see some large sheep – in the summer they have sheep dogs which round up ducks.