In early autumn when the rowans are scarlet and the birch edged with gold, I love long rambles in the woods around Dunkeld. It's wonderful to soak up autumn and capture the colours on camera. I headed there a couple of weekends ago with friends Graham and Andrew for a wee climb up Birnam Hill and a long walk in the woods.
The name of Dunkeld is derived from "fort of the Caledonians" which signified an importance stretching back to the Iron Age and lasting into the Middle Ages when the village and its cathedral were a major religious centre.
Our walking route left the village along the banks of the River Tay where the autumn colours were beautiful.
We walked onto Polney Loch whose reflected colours were vibrant even on a grey day.
The sun was out on the second day for our walk up Birnam Hill through the beautiful Birnam Woods. The woods retain a mystical aura having been made famous in Shakespeare's play, Macbeth. "Macbeth shall never vanquish'd be until, Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill, shall come against him". And of course it did.
Thousands of golden birch leaves fluttered down around us on the breeze as we followed the trail higher up the hill.
Eventually we left the woods and crossed the open top of the hill.
On the other side the birch trees were replaced by stately larch which rained down on us their orange needles as we returned to Dunkeld.
Start/finish: Dunkeld & Birnam Train Station
Map: OS Landranger 52
Route day 1: From the station follow the cycling/walking signs down to Birnam and turn left on the main street. At the T junction turn right into Dunkeld and cross the bridge over the Tay. Take the first left into the market square, continue straight onto the cathedral and then follow the path that skirts it to the right and continues along the Tay. When you come to the hotel, pass right of the main reception and continue passed the health club. Swing right where road becomes dirt track and continue uphill. When you meet a road turn right and then pick up the path that passes Polney Loch. This eventually comes out at the Cally car park. There is a multiway walking sign here - follow the signs that continue east for the Loch of the Lowes via Fungarth. After skirting the golf club, the track crosses a field, enters a wood and then junctions with another track. Turn right to return to Dunkeld.
Route day 2 for Birnam Hill: From the train station follow national cycle route signs south on a cycle path beside the road. Turn right up the B867 and a few hundred metres the walking route up Birnam Hill is signposted. Take the short signed detour to Stair Bridge for a great view. The signed route descends to the station.
Info: We stayed at the lovely campsite at Invermill, beside the river and surrounded by woods. There's a nice walking path there which is signposted at the junction of the main street of Birnam with the road into Dunkeld. You can also use a lovely path that passes under the Telford Bridge and follows the Tay and the Braan to Inver.