We were driving from Glasgow to Aviemore a few weeks ago and I wanted to find somewhere to stop that we hadn’t been to before; somewhere we could get out, have a good walk and just breathe after months of being in the city during lockdown.

I had a quick look at the map and settled on the Birks of Aberfeldy; a circular walk through woodlands on the outskirts of Aberfeldy leading to the Falls of Moness. The word birks is old Scots for birch trees, and the Birks of Aberfeldy are named after a poem of the same name by Robert Burns, inspired while sitting on a rock amongst the birch forest in 1787. It’s actually a really beautiful poem and it just overflows with love and appreciation of this old, majestic part of the world.

Now Simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.

Robert Burns, The Birks of Aberfeldy

There is a very easily accessible car park at the beginning of this walk – the Birks carpark just off the A826. You can also join the walk just off the main street in Aberfeldy if you are making your way by public transport.

The path is easy to follow whether you go clockwise or anti-clockwise round the birks. We went straight along the gorge and up the hill towards the upper falls, taking about 40 minutes or so to get there with a 6 and 3 year old in the summer sun.

It’s not a difficult walk at all, but it does get a little bit steep at some points and the wee one asked for a pull up the hills. This half of the path isn’t particularly exciting, but you are surrounded by beautiful woodland the entire way. In fact, the whole of this woodland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest because of it’s botanical features and it is thought that this area has continuously been a woodland for up to the past 8,000 years.

If you plan on taking a buggy or wheels up the path this is the way to go. However bear in mind that the best views of the falls and Moness Burn are from the path at the other side of the burn.

When you get to the top you’ll find a bridge over the top of the falls and the path then heads straight back down the other side where there’s a beautiful viewpoint of the Falls of Moness dedicated to Robert Burns’ poem.

The walk along the other side of the falls is quite different. There are little waterfalls all along the path – if the season and weather is right! The path leads down stone steps and along wooden bridges and boardwalks. Some of the sections are bordered with steep sheer drops down the gorge, but there are handrails for most of the route where they’d be required.

This half of the walk is definitely not wheel friendly. There are lots of steps and narrow boardwalks/paths so if you are planning a walk here and have very young kids who might struggle to walk the route I’d advise a carrier.

There are lots of views of lots of little waterfalls and rapids in Moness Burn the entire way along this path though and it’s such a beautiful walk. With hindsight I might walk up this way (clockwise) and back down along the gentle slope of the other side as I think you’d get more from being able to look upstream and climbing uphill here than paying more attention to your footing on the way down.

Some sections of the path are a bit wet from the waterfalls running down the steep rocks that the path winds through, even when it’s not raining, so make sure you take care when heading along here.

As you make your way down towards the bottom of the gorge you’ll find areas where you can get to the water. My kids (and husband) love scrambling over rocks so they had a great time down beside the burn.

On this side of the path you’ll also find a natural stone seat under an overhanging rock, with a little plaque dedicated to Robert Burns. This is where he is thought to have written The Birks of Aberfeldy poem way back 250 years ago.

Eventually the path comes to a little wooden bridge taking you back across the burn and back towards the car park.

The Stats

  • Total distance: 3.5km
  • Elevation: 250m
  • Duration: In total this walk took us about 2 hours, with stops for snacks and taking our time playing in the wee path-side waterfalls and down on the rocks by the river.
  • Difficulty: 3/10. This walk is mostly a gentle gradient on one side of the river with a few steeper parts, and flights of wooden stairs on the other. The kids managed it no problem but I couldn’t unclench watching them going down those staircases.

The Logistics

  • Wheels: This walk is well paved and maintained and is suitable for wheels on one side of the river – the same side as the car park is on. No buggies or scooters are getting around the other side as it’s full of sometimes quite narrow steps!
  • Parking: There is a small car park for the Birks of Aberfeldy.
  • Toilets: There are no toilet facilities here.
  • Clothing: Nothing in particular needed here. It’s pretty sheltered most of the way amongst the trees and in the ravine.
  • Dogs: Good for dogs.

The Location

The Birks of Aberfeldy is located in the beautiful town of Aberfeldy in Perthshire. The car park is well signposted off the A826 and is really easy to find.

The Cost

Completely free.

The Verdict

The Birks of Aberfeldy is a really beautiful walk through mature woodland, and if you enjoy a waterfall you’ll love it.