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14 EVERGREEN Autumn The

14 EVERGREEN Autumn The fine views as you climb higher and the gushing falls (right). (continued) Come let us spend the lightsome days In the birks of Aberfeldy. One man who was certainly impressed with this wooded gorge that climbs steeply above the Moness Burn was Scotland’s bard, Robert Burns. He crossed the hills from Amulree to Kenmore on 30th August 1787 little realising that before the end of the day, he’d have composed a poem that would immortalise the town of Aberfeldy. One can’t help but wonder how much more he would have been impressed with the place had he been given the opportunity to return and see it in autumn some two months later. Ever since he wrote his poem “The Birks of Aberfeldy”, the Den of the Moness has assumed the affectionate name of “the Birks” and has welcomed countless thousands of visitors all anxious to experience for themselves the landscape he described. The circular walk from Aberfeldy to the high bridge over the upper falls is a great walk for any season — even in the depths of winter when the braes that Burns tells us “ascend like lofty wa’s” lose their colour and the “foaming stream” that “deep-roaring fa’s” is frozen into a silent curtain of ice. Only the fastest flowing water avoids being turned to ice. It’s a cold place in winter and the track can be very slippery but what great photographic opportunities there are to be had at this quiet time of the year. Just remember to wrap up well! It’s a steep climb above the Moness Burn but there are several places to

2017 EVERGREEN 15 rest and admire the view. At one spot near the waterside is a bench where we can share our own poetic thoughts with a seated statue of Robert Burns himself. Higher round the trail you’ll pass the stone bench where it’s said he was inspired to sit and put pen to paper. In late October, the low sun struggles to reach the deeper parts of the gorge giving us the play of light against shade. The burn is never far from sight or out of earshot and nowhere is it more dramatic than at the Falls of Moness. Burns needed no camera to record the scene — only his pen: White o’er the linn the burnie pours And rising, weets wi’ misty showers. We might experience these “misty showers” first hand when crossing the little footbridge above the falls. Looking over the balustrade to the 50 feet cataract and deep cavern below, it can be a terrifying place after a rainy spell. As you look down over the falls from the safety of the bridge, just keep your guard. Although you may think you’re alone, there’s every chance you’re being watched. An old name for the Moness was the Pheallaidh (Feldy) burn (hence the name Aberfeldy meaning the mouth of the Feldy). Pheallaidh is a supernatural water creature that often lurks around the falls with nothing but mischief in mind. However, only those with the power of the second sight will be able to see him. In 1914, the Den was gifted to Aberfeldy by the Marquess of Breadalbane. Before this, to enjoy the two-mile long trek would have cost us 6d. Now, you’ll be glad to hear, it’s free to all. WILLY SHAND

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