Walk of the week: The Hermitage and Creagan Loisgte, Dunkeld
Without wishing to sound too curmudgeonly about such a popular place, it is nice to combine this with a walk in the quieter woodland nearby, where fewer people means you have more chance of seeing wildlife, including red squirrels.
Distance: 3 miles.
Height climbed: 200ft.
Time: 1½ to 2 hours.
Map: OS Landranger 52 or 53.
Park: There is a National Trust for Scotland car park just north of Dunkeld on the A9 with a £2 charge.
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 wide path has joined from the right go left at a fork to stay next to the river. On reaching a fence overlooking a pool in the river go up some rough stone steps on the right to reach Hermitage Bridge. Next to this 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, keeping left to stay close to the river. After a fence overlooking another viewpoint you pass a jumble of rocks on the left. These are known as Ossian’s Seat and just beyond is Ossian’s Cave, on the right.
Walk past the front of the cave entrance and take a path which loops to the right, heading back in roughly the direction you have come from.
At a junction go right to return to the start or, to continue the walk, go left. On reaching a junction of tracks go right and after a few hundred yards reach a small car park. Follow a path on the right of the car park entrance with a yellow marker post at the bottom. This goes up to the right and you should turn right at a junction. When the path makes a sharp turn left you can go up a hillock to the right – Creagan Loisgte – for a good view over the trees in Strathbraan.
Drop down to a surfaced path and go right to follow it through sparse forest (it zigzags to allow wheelchairs to get up the gradient). At a junction go right, following a yellow marker post.
Almost immediately you reach a reconstructed Victoria folly – Torryvald – with a spiral stone staircase and an ornamental hand rail. It was named after a deserted township to the north and before the forestry would have looked on to the River Tay and Dunkeld. Take the path beyond the folly which bears right at another yellow marker post.
After a few hundred yards the path turns sharp right and you should leave it and go down to the left, on a track. This leads back to the top of the access road for the car park.
There is often a refreshment van in the car park but your best bet is to head for Birnam or Dunkeld.
While you are in the area
The Birnam Institute, near the station, includes the Beatrix Potter Museum and Garden – the author once lived on the other side of the Tay from Birnam (www.birnaminstitute.com). Alternatively, have a look round the 14th century Dunkeld Cathedral near the banks of the Tay (www.dunkeldcathedral.org.uk).