The Hermitage
The Hermitage
One of the most picturesque of the countryside areas maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, The Hermitage is an area of 33 acres of conifer and deciduous woodlands and contains one of Britain's tallest Douglas fir trees. A picturesque folly built in 1758 stands above the wooded gorge of River Braan and offers views of Black Linn waterfall.

The Hermitage was created by the Dukes of Atholl as an addition to the landscaped pleasure grounds of nearby Dunkeld House. The wild woodland was intended to create a contrast to the more civilised landscape of the gardens closer to the house. Beginning in 1757 successive generations of Dukes planted trees to embellish and enhance the natural landscape along the River Braan.

The sheltered valley and good soil allowed the trees to flourish, especially Douglas firs, which were planted here as early as the 1860s. These trees have grown to provide what the National Trust for Scotland calls 'cathedral-like groves'. The beauty of The Hermitage has attracted artists, poets and writers like William Wordsworth and JMW Turner, as well as composer Felix Mendelssohn.


There are several circular walks through The Hermitage. These are shown by colour coded trail markers beginning from the main parking area just off the A9. The easiest trail to follow is just over a mile in length and follows the River Braan, past Black Linn falls to Ossian's Cave, a fanciful grotto, before looping back through woodland to the main car park. There are several excellent viewpoints along the trail, including Ossian's Hall, a neo-classical folly overlooking the waterfall as it plunges through a narrow chasm.

Above the falls is Ossian's Seat, a peaceful spot beside the river, and from there the trail goes further to the grotto, which looks rather like an 18th-century icehouse. One of the most unusual features of the Hermitage is an authentic North American totem pole, custom crafted by members of the Squamish Nation of Canada from a Douglas Fir grown in The Hermitage woodland.

The woodland is largely deciduous and offers wonderful colour is the autumn. Access is easy and the most popular circular route is pretty easy going, even for those with limited mobility. We very much enjoyed our walk through the Hermitage - in fact, I held everyone up because I couldn't stop taking photos of the waterfalls and trees!