Saturday 13 March 2010

The Braan Gorge & The Hermitage: Hydro Rejected

On the southern edge of the Highlands near Dunkeld in Strathtay lies the beautiful wooded gorge of the River Braan. The National Trust for Scotland owns a section of the land here, known as The Hermitage, where there is a folly called Ossian’s Hall overlooking the Black Linn Falls. Much of the woodland was planted in the 1800s but it has grown quite wild and many trees are self-seeded, including a magnificent Douglas fir right on the edge of the River Braan that is reckoned to be the tallest tree in Britain by Forestry Commission Scotland, who have measured it at 59 metres (194 feet). The deep gorge with the river rushing down water-smoothed rocks in cascades and slides below the towering forest is quite magnificent and a wonderful place to stop for a quiet restorative stroll away from the noise and pressure of the main road just above, something I have done several times. That such a place of beauty and wonder should have been threatened by a hydro scheme seems inconceivable but such was the case until recently. The development would have diverted over 60% of the water from the river at times which, as at the Birks of Aberfeldy not far away (see posts for Novermber 22, 2009 and February 24 this year), would completely change the nature of the gorge. The River Braan is a free river and should remain so.

It’s also a special river for canoeists, rated as one of the top five in Scotland, and the Scottish Canoe Association led the fight against the scheme. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, a government body, also opposed it and a public enquiry in January 2009 recommended rejection. Last week Scottish Ministers agreed and the proposal is dead. Mike Dales, Access & Environment Officer with the SCA said “the Scottish Canoe Association is pleased with this decision. It is the correct decision and shows respect for one of Scotland's most beautiful rivers. The Braan gorge is enjoyed by walkers, canoeists and thousands of visitors who pass by on the A9 every year. It is welcome news indeed that this attempt to industrialise such a unique river by diverting its water away from the gorge has been rejected."

Photo info: The Braan Gorge at the Hermitage. Canon EOS 350D, 18-55@47mm, 1/30@ f5.6, ISO 400, raw file converted to JPEG in Lightroom 2.6


  1. This spot is a particular favourite of mine, as I regularly stay in Dunkeld and The Hermitage can be fitted into any number of evening walks. So I am, to put it mildly, delighted at this news.

    This is one walk which should definitely have made the top ten in the NT's survey.

  2. I imagine there will be a greater demand for damns and other clean ways of generating energy. If so, we will have to accept that some of our river systems will be affected.