Thursday 12 November 2009

The Birks of Aberfeldy

Days of low cloud, drifting mists and that damp air that chills the spirits as well as the bones have made the high tops unnatractive. Wandering in a cold wet fog with little to see has not appealed. Woods and waterfalls can be colourful and exciting on dark November days however and one of my favourite walks encompassing both is the Birks of Aberfeldy in Strath Tay, which I visited a few days ago. This is a deep wooded ravine down which tumbles and crashes the Moness Burn. After all the recent rain the burn was a whitewater torrent, the bigger falls sending sprays of water droplets fine as mist high in the air. In the confines of the narrow gorge the noise of the water was deafening. The mixed woodland - beech, oak, ash, hazel, larch and pine as well as the "birks" (birches) of the name - is beautiful at this time of year. Some leaves still cling to the trees, most golden, some still green, especially on the hazels. On the larches the needles were only just beginning to change colour. The woodland floor glowed bronze with fallen beech leaves, shimmering with drops of moisture. Despite the roar and rush of the burn it is a peaceful place, feeling hidden and protected from outside storms. It impressed Robert Burns who wrote his poem The Birks of Aberfeldy here and gave the ravine its name:

The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foaming stream deep-roaring fa's,
O'erhung wi' fragrant spreading shaws-
The birks of Aberfeldy.

The Birks of Aberfeldy walk ends right in the centre of Aberfeldy, where it was just a short stroll to The Watermill cafe and bookshop and a warming mug of hot chocolate and restorative slice of sticky flapjack. The Watermill, which is in the old Aberfeldy mill, is a wonderful relaxing place where you can browse the latest books and have a tasty lunch. At the end of a cold November walk it's very welcome indeed.

Photo info: the Moness Burn in the Birks of Aberfeldy, November 2009. Sigma DP1, 1/30@f5.6, ISO 200, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.


  1. “The woodland floor glowed bronze” A wonderful description of what sounds a wonderful place. The sensor on the DP1 has caught all the fine detail in that photo well. I am getting into the whole raw file use of late and finally understanding converting files from raw. Results are showing why it’s good to shoot in raw. Is there a reason you took the Dp1 for that walk, or is it just the handy pocket sized camera you take

  2. Thanks for your comments Martin. The DP1 is the camera I have with me all the time these days as it's the only compact I've used that takes pictures as good as DSLRs. I do like the richness of details in DP1 files. The results are as good as from my Canon 450D but I can't put that in my pocket!