The Hermitage Woodland Walk

The Hermitage Folly - Ossian's Hall 2011

The Hermitage woodland walk> is one of the oldest tourist attractions in Scotland. For over 200 years it has been a stopping point on the grand Scottish Tour. Today, you are following in the footsteps of Wordsworth, Turner, Mendelssohn and countless thousands of others. It is located a mile west of Dunkeld, on the Perth to Inverness A9 trunk road. There is a riverside path skirting alongsided the River Braan.

This is Atholl country, and successive Dukes have shown great interest in forestry and the introduction of new species. At the southern end of the estate is the Hermitage,is a tree garden, created during the 18th century with some exotic species.

The Hermitage folly, or Ossian's Hall, was secretly built in 1758 by the 2nd Duke's nephew, destined to become the 3rd Duke.The exterior is very much as it appears today. Then the visitor entered first into a circular vestibule, confronted with a painting of blind Ossian, the ancient bard, singing to a group of maidens. The sound of the waterfall could be heard, but nothing was seen until the guide operated the secret pulley which allowed the painting to slide into a recess revealing the inner room. Here the walls were covered in mirrors reflecting the waterfall in all directions. Sadly the Hall was vandalised first in 1821, then in 1869, when it was blown up. In recent times it has been restored to its current finish.

A wide variety of trees are found at the Hermitage. Most are native to the area, beech however, was introduced from England, and sycamore came from France. Others came from further afield. Looking across the pool is the best view of what is reported to be the tallest dark conifer Douglas fir in Britain. Named after the local botanist, David Douglas, who was the first to send seeds to this country, from North America, in 1828. These particular trees were planted in 1919 and are now well over 250 feet-(75 metres), but grow twice as high in their native country.

Upstream from the pool is a charming 18th-century bridge which spans a narrow gorge where the River Braan cuts across the natural grain of the rock, just below the Black Linn falls. At the end of the bridge stands a cedar tree of Lebanon, probably planted when the bridge was built. Here gentlemen mixed punch in bowls carved in the rock by the river

As you continue your walk through the wooded path, you suddenly come upon Ossian's Cave which, like Ossian's Hall, is another romantic folly of the 18-th century. Ossian was the son of Fingal, the great 3rd-century hero, who sang his father's deeds and those of other Celtic warriors.

Complete the Hermitage woodland walk by following some of the paths which eventually takes you back to the car park.

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Images of this location

Ossian's Cave at the Hermitage

Ossian's Cave at the Hermitage

Old bridge at the Hermitage

Old Bridge at the Hermitage

Ossian's Folly at the Hermitage

Ossian's Folly at the Hermitage