The Birks of Aberfeldy

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

The Birks of Aberfeldy offer a circular walk through mixed woodland on the outskirts of Aberfeldy in Perthshire. The scenic landscape inspired the poet Robert Burns to write one of his most famous works in 1787. Visitors to the Birks of Aberfeldy will find excellent facilities, including a large car park and gravelled paths with partial disabled access.

Birks Aberfeldy
Address:Moness,
Nr Aberfeldy,
Perthshire,
PH15 2BJ
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free
Parking:On-site car park
Contact:N/A
Facilities:Partial disabled access on gravel paths, picnic benches
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Overview

Craig Neil at the Birks of Aberfeldy

The Birks of Aberfeldy is a picturesque woodland in Scotland, renowned for its stunning waterfall and lush flora. Named after Robert Burns’ poem, ‘The Birks of’ Aberfeldy’, the area offers a serene and captivating walking experience for nature lovers. Its beautiful landscape also features the Moness Burn which provides an enchanting backdrop for hiking and bird-watching.

The Birks of Aberfeldy, located near the town of Aberfeldy in Perthshire, offers a very pleasant short walk that takes visitors on a circular route through mature woodland and forest that has covered this part of Central Scotland for over 8,000 years.

The woods are comprised of a variety of trees, with the predominant species belonging to oak, ash, elm, and, of course, the birks (which are actually birch trees). There are lots of birds to keep a watchful eye out for during a visit, and in fact, this area of natural beauty has such a vast amount of wildlife it has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Modern-day visitors can enjoy the natural splendour of the place just as Robert Burns did over 200 years ago, thanks to the path that rings the woodland in a route just over two miles in length. At the far end of the walk lies the Falls of Moness, a thundering waterfall that crashes 250 metres into the Moness gorge below. From the forest entrance to the falls, you’ll pass several smaller waterfalls that also flow into the Moness Burn.

The well-maintained path that follows the burn gently rises from the starting point in the car park towards several natural viewing platforms that overlook the canopy of trees. It really is a beautiful place, and it’s no wonder that Scotland’s national poet was so fond of it.

Birks of Aberfeldy

The Highlights

1: The Birks of Aberfeldy is a lovely place at any time of the year, but it’s best visited in the summer and autumn to see the changing colours of the trees.

2: This is an easy walk and it’s one that’s quite short, so it’s perfect for a Sunday stroll or for anyone with mobility problems. For visitors who need the easiest route, I suggest walking anti-clockwise to avoid the steepest sections. Double back once you get to the bridge.

3: The thundering falls over the Moness Burn are very impressive, especially after a downpour.

Visiting Tips

1: There are a few muddy sections after a rainfall so it’s best to wear waterproof boots (link to recommended boots). The side of the path heading clockwise seems to be the muddiest.

2: Get an Ordnance Survey map to make the most of the other walks in the area. Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

3: After you’ve visited the Birks, take a look around Aberfeldy and look for paths along the River Tay which has to be one of the most picturesque waterways in Scotland.

Birks of Aberfeldy

Tourist Information

Although the majority of the walk is on a compacted path, there are several areas that get very muddy in the winter, so if you’re visiting in the wetter months, make sure you take waterproof boots. It’s quite an easy walk at around 1.5 miles, which should only take one hour to complete, but bear in mind that you’ll want to stop and admire the views, so plan to take longer.

The ascent to the Falls of Moness is straightforward as there’s only one path to follow and the steeper sections have wooden steps and handrails installed, but even so, these sections aren’t practical for anyone with a disability. If you really want to follow in Burn’s footsteps and you think you might struggle on the steeper parts, you can still enjoy 90% of the Birks of Aberfeldy by sticking to the lower section.

You begin the walk from the Birks car park, and it’s shortly after this point that you’ll see information panels about both the woodland and the bard himself, with a couple of nearby sculptures of the great man if you fancy taking some selfies with him.

The Birks of Aberfeldy

The lower part of the woodland is full of birch trees, just as it would have been in Burn’s time, and there are very picturesque waterfalls along the path as you head towards the Moness Gorge. Although this section of the walk is easy-going, it soon turns into an incline, but luckily the steeper sections have handrails fitted and there are wooden bridges installed in places where you’d otherwise have to cross the river.

Shortly after the first of these bridges is a natural shelf of rock that’s believed to have been the place where Burns took a rest to admire the scenery when he visited. There’s a small plaque there to commemorate the occasion so it might be the perfect opportunity to take another Burns-themed selfie or just enjoy the serenity of the woods before heading to the halfway point.

The rest of the path zigzags up an incline towards the Falls of Moness where visitors will catch sight of the highest section of the waterfall. Following the path will then take you to the midpoint of the walk which is a wooden footbridge crossing the falls.

The roaring white water makes for a memorable photograph, and looking ahead you’ll get some extraordinary views over the Strathtay conservation area.

The remainder of the walk doubles back on itself, only this time you’ll be on the opposite side of the gorge. Because this half of the path is on a much higher ravine you’ll see beautiful views across the Perthshire countryside, and on a clear day, you’ll even be able to see the rising peaks of Ben Vrackie in the distance.

Birks of Aberfeldy

Robert Burn’s Poem: The Birks of Aberfeldy

Chorus: Bonie lassie, will ye go? Will ye go, will ye go, Bonie Lassie, will ye go to the birks of Aberfeldy? Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes, And o’er the crystal streamlets play. Come, let us spend the lightsome days in the birks of Aberfeldy. (Chorus) While o’er their heads the hazels hing, The little birds blythely sing. Or lightly flit on wanton wing, in the birks of Aberfeldy. (Chorus) The braes ascend like lofty wa’s, the foaming stream deep-roaring fa’s, O’erhung wi’ fragrant spreading shaws—the birks of Aberfeldy. (Chorus) The hoary cliffs are crown’d wi’ flowers, White o’er the linns the burnie pours, And rising, weets wi’ misty showers The Birks of Aberfeldy. (Chorus) Let Fortune’s gifts at randoe flee, They ne’er shall draw a wish frae me; Supremely blest wi’ love and thee, in the birks of Aberfeldy.

Things to Do

Hiking the Birks of Aberfeldy: This lovely circular walk leads you through the gorge of the Moness Burn, revealing stunning views of cascading waterfalls. Suitable for all fitness levels, the trail allows you to immerse yourself in the forest with the potential of spotting wildlife such as red squirrels and birds of prey.

Visit the Robert Burns Monument: Along the trail, you’ll come across a monument honouring Robert Burns, who drew inspiration from the surrounding area to write the poem “The Birks of Aberfeldy.” This historic spot is a must-see for literature and history enthusiasts.

Photography at the Falls: With the crystal-clear waters cascading over ancient rocks surrounded by lush green foliage, the falls provide a perfect backdrop for photography. Be it landscape, nature, or portrait photography, the Birks of Aberfeldy will not disappoint.

Picnicking by the Moness Burn: There are plenty of picturesque spots to lay down a blanket and enjoy a picnic. Listen to the babbling burn, enjoy the peaceful scenery, and relish in the peace and quiet.

Exploring Aberfeldy Town: After a day of hiking, unwind in the charming market town of Aberfeldy. With its quaint shops, cosy cafes, and the famous Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, there’s something of interest for all visitors.

Birks of Aberfeldy

Book Tours

Things to Do Nearby

Dewars Distillery. Aberfeldy PH15 2EB. 4-minute drive.
A large whisky distillery that offers tastings, a museum, and guided tours. There is a whisky lounge/café on-site, as well as a bar and a gift shop. The guided tours allow access to the warehouse and the production areas.

Black Watch Memorial. Aberfeldy PH15 2FG. 9-minute walk.
A historical landmark on the banks of the River Tay commemorates the Black Watch regiment. The Aberfeldy to Kenmore public path can be accessed on the opposite bank, which offers one of the best riverside walks in Perthshire.

St. David’s Well, Aberfeldy, PH15 2LD. 5-minute drive. 4-minute drive, 10-minute walk.
A landmark in the woodland that comprises a large recess carved into an overhanging precipice. The walk to the well is quite steep and therefore unsuitable for small children. The surrounding forest is one of the oldest in Scotland.

Bolfracks Estate and Gardens, Estate Office, Aberfeldy, PH15 2EX, 5-minute drive.
Privately owned ornamental gardens that were planted in the mid-1700s. The gardens feature a collection of traditional country flowerbeds with spectacular views over the Tay Valley.

Cluny House Gardens. Cluny House Gardens, Aberfeldy, PH15 2JT, is a 10-minute drive.
Private gardens that are a haven for red squirrels. Footpaths allow easy access to a wide variety of plant species from across the globe, including some collected from the Himalayas.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where do you park for the Birks of Aberfeldy?

There is a car park specifically for visitors to the Birks of Aberfeldy. It’s situated just off the A826, on the western edge of Aberfeldy. The car park is clearly signposted and is about a 10-minute walk from the town centre.
Address: Crieff Road, Aberfeldy, PH15 2BJ.

What does ‘Birks’ mean in the Birks of Aberfeldy?

The word ‘birks’ is an old Scots word that describes birch trees. When Burns wrote his poem, he named it after the forest’s abundant birch trees.

How high are the Birks of Aberfeldy?

There is an upper path in the Birks of Aberfeldy that reaches its highest point at 820 feet (250 metres) on a bridge above the Falls of Moness.

How long are the Birks of Aberfeldy?

The Birks of Aberfeldy have a 1.5-mile circular footpath along the Moness Glen.

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.