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12 EVERGREEN Autumn The

12 EVERGREEN Autumn The Birks of Aberfeldy If you were to take a map of Scotland and draw a line stretching from Cape Wrath in the far north-west to the upper reaches of the Solway Firth, then draw another from the Mull of Galloway back up to Duncansby Head in the far north-east; where they cross sits the town of Aberfeldy. The town can, therefore, quite literally claim to be right at the heart of Scotland. Flowing past it, fast and wide, are the waters of Scotland’s longest river — the Tay. A famous landmark of the town is General Wade’s five-arch bridge over the Tay. It was built in 1733, a long The Birks in autumn and the statue of Robert Burns (below). time before motor transport yet it still copes well with all of today’s traffic. It’s widely regarded as being Wade’s greatest work. Mind you, not everyone was so taken with its design. Dorothy Wordsworth just thought it “ambitious and ugly”. It didn’t take long to construct either. With a spring start in April it was finished before the end of the year. Wade certainly could get the job done. The bridge was part of a system of military roads built in the wake of the 1715 Jacobite

2017 EVERGREEN 13 The Black Watch Memorial and the town of Aberfeldy. The five-arch bridge across the Tay (below) was built in 1733. Rising when it was recognised by the government that the only way to control the unruly Highlanders was through better communication. As an old rhyme goes: Had you seen these roads before they were made, You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade. Above the bridge stands the impressive Black Watch Memorial. This was where, in 1740, the great battalion of the Black Watch was formed. Undoubtedly, the most colourful time of year to visit Aberfeldy is from mid-October through to early November. The woods of the “Birks of Aberfeldy” are renowned for their brilliant autumn display. “Birks” is the Scots word for birches. Besides birch, you’ll find a great variety of trees — some from afar like the Antarctic beach, the Kashmiri whitebeam and Chinese scarlet rowan while others, like the ash, hazel and rowan, are more native to the Highlands.

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