Birks of Aberfeldy
I’m sure it is beautiful in all seasons, but the Birks of Aberfeldy present their crown jewels in Autumn and their kaleidoscope of colour caresses you each step of the way.
Though it is not only their colours that cast a spell. The Upper Birks trail, along the Moness Glen, leads you past several cascading waterfalls and charming wooden bridges.
The start of the Birks of Aberfeldy walk
This popular walk in Perthshire is so named because it was here that the poet Robert Burns, (also known as Robbie or Rabbie Burns) was inspired to write the ‘Birks of Aberfeldy’ song lyrics while touring the area in 1787. Birks is Scottish for beech trees and, before Robert Burns’ poem, the woodland here was called the Den of Moness.
The Birks is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its botanical features and is believed to have existed for perhaps 8000 years. However, it wasn’t until the 1780s that beech trees were added to the mix of mature woodland trees.
Right beside the carpark, (see map), you’ll find the ‘Birks Tree Collection’ planted in the 1960s by a local botanist, Bobby Masterton, who had a passion for the more exotic species. Here you’ll find Japanese maple, Tibetan cherry, Hupeh rowan, spindle trees, western hemlock and rhododendron.
There are plenty of spots to appreciate the beauty of the Moness Burn and its drapes of autumn colours
The Birks of Aberfeldy Walk
The Birks of Aberfeldy walk wraps you in a woodland of birch, ash, oak, hazel and elm. It guides you along the banks of the Moness Burn (burn is Scottish for stream or small river), through the Moness Gorge, to the roaring white waters of its impressive Moness Falls.
If you are like me and adore forest bathing, then I’ve no doubt that embarking on the Birks of Aberfeldy walk will fill you with joy.
Charming wooden bridges lead you over the many mini waterfalls flowing into the Moness Burn
Details of the Birks Walk:
Distance: 4km / 2.5 miles circular route From Town Centre OR 1.5 miles from Tree Collection Car park
Height Gain: 150m
Time: Allow a minimum of 1.5 hours (We took three hours but made heaps of photography stops)
Accessing the Birks of Aberfeldy and what to expect:
- If you are parking in the town of Aberfeldy, the walk begins at the arch of the old War memorial just off Bank Street (see map)
- If you park at the Birks car park, the walk begins at the end of the car park and this section is known as the Upper Birks. (see map)
- Once in the Upper Birks, after a short stroll, you will come to a wooden bridge on your left and it is here that you can choose to tackle the circular walk in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. The trail can be tackled either way and has mixed reviews as to which way is best. We travelled anti-clockwise which meant that we tackled the steps on our return down from the main falls.
- Both directions lead you up to the top of the Moness Falls where you can stand on the bridge and look down the gorge into the foamy white waters of the Moness as they tumble down their 380-metre drop.
- On the right-hand side of the loop, you will come to a break in the trees which gives you a splendid view of the Strath Tay Valley.
- Along the left hand side of the route, you’ll find verses from Robert Burn’s poem and a plaque marks the very spot where it is thought he sat to write the lyrics to the Birks of Aberfeldy song (see lyrics here).
- The left hand side of the loop also has several feeder waterfalls tumbling into the Moness Burn, giving you plenty of opportunites to rest a while on the wooden bridges and take in the variety of flora around you.
The Strath Tay Valley view from the Birks of Aberfeldy walk
View across to the top of the Aberfeldy Falls (Moness Waterfall) from the right-hand side of the walking trail
Plaque to show the place where Robert Burns sat to write the Birks of Aberfeldy lyrics
The natural rock seating where Robert Burns is presumed to have sat when writing his poem
Statue of Robbie Burns who wrote the Birks of Aberfeldy poem
Feeder Waterfall tumbling down the crimson bank at the Birks
Preparation for The Birks of Aberfeldy Walk
- Wear sturdy shoes
- Be aware that the trail may be slippery and muddy in wet weather.
- If you are generally fit you will be able to manage the walk — there are plenty of resting points to catch your breathe on the steep climb. In some places there are steep steps to climb.
- Remember to take your camera to capture the beauty of the Birks
Birks of Aberfeldy Map
Wildlife at the Birks
Making their home in the Birks are warblers, flycatchers, green and great spotted woodpeckers, pied and grey wagtails, tree creepers, sparrowhawks, dippers ad more.
If you are lucky, you may even spot a red squirrel. We saw one scampering around near the entrance to the Upper Birks walk. 75% of the UK’s native red squirrels are found in Scotland and many have been displaced by the non-native grey squirrel, now seen as a pest and a threat to the indigenous reds.
Red squirrel – recognisable by the tufts on its ears
Birks of Aberfeldy Poem by Robert Burns
Robert Burns, also known as Rabbie or Robbie Burns, is known as Scotland’s national poet. He was passionate about poetry, nature, drink and women. His first published book of poems was a huge success but he died ten years later at age 37.
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 plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.
While o’er their heads the hazels hing,
The little birdies blythely sing,
Orlightlyflit on wanton wing,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.
The braes ascend like lofty wa’s,
The foaming stream deep-roaring fa’s,
O’erhung wi’ fragrant spreading shaws-
The birks of Aberfeldy.
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.
Let Fortune’s gifts at randoe flee,Robert Burns
They ne’er shall draw a wish frae me;
Supremely blest wi’ love and thee,
In the birks of Aberfeldy.
Birks of Aberfeldy Song
Enjoy listening to the Birks of Aberfeldy song in this Scottish music video produced by Glasgow1234 here:
Good To Know
You can download a leaflet about the Birks of Aberfeldy here.
Birks of Aberfeldy Opening Times
Open 24 hours all year round
Getting to the Birks of Aberfeldy
You can reach the Birks by bus or car.
Use Traveline Scotland to help plan your journey if using public transport. The nearest train and coach stations are in Perth, Dunkeld or Pitlochry.
Parking For Birks of Aberfeldy
See Map for Parking locations – When we visited the Birks of Aberfeldy, we parked in the car park by the Collection of Trees. It was late October and at around 9.00 am the car park was already half full, but mainly with motorhomes. By the time we left at lunchtime, there weren’t any spaces. Therefore we advise going early so it’s not too busy on the trail.
Birks of Aberfeldy car park
Things to do in and Near Aberfeldy
There are plenty of other things to do in the area, such as visiting:
- The Watermill bookshop, cafe and art gallery
- The Dewar Whisky Distillery
- Menzies Castle
- Bolfracks Garden (April to 31st Oct)
- Water Rafting
Birks of Aberfeldy FAQ’s
How long is Birks of Aberfeldy Walk?
This depends on where you start the walk. If you start at Aberfeldy town centre by the War Memorial arch, (see map) then the circular route is 3.5km (2 miles). But if you begin the walk at the Tree Collection Carpark (at the entrance to the Upper Birks circular loop) the route is 2.5km (1.5 miles) long.
What does Birks mean in the Birks of Aberfeldy?
Birks is Scottish for a stream or small river.
How high is the Birks of Aberfeldy?
The path in the Upper Birks leads up to a height of 250m (870ft). The Waterfall (Moness Falls) drops 320m in three tiers.
What is the Birks of Aberfeldy Postcode?
How far from the Birks of Aberfeldy car park are the picturesque sights?
The main waterfall is about a 30 – 40 minute walk to the top but there are small waterfalls cascading into the Moness Burn at many points on the left-hand side of the Moness Gorge. Therefore, if you walk the route clockwise, you will encounter them shortly after the first bridge at the beginning of the trail. Also in that direction, you will come to the statue of Robbie Burns about 5 minutes in.
Robert Burns statue under the birch trees at the Birks of Aberfeldy
Birks of Aberfeldy Walk … And That’s a Wrap
This is one of the prettiest woodland walks we’ve encountered on our travels so far and were enamoured by the myriad of alluring colours and the charismatic and enduring ambience of this venerable woodland.
Not only did the Birks wow us with its beauty but it echoed a sentiment of letting go and planning for the future.
We have had to halt our Africa travels, but just as the Birks let go so that new buds will bloom next year, we let go of our overlanding plans for now. We will instead, channel our energies into developing our travel blog and earning funds for when we return to travel across Africa at the end of 2022.
Have you visited the Birks?
Is it as beautiful throughout the seasons?
Does Autumn spur you to make plans for the future?
We’d love to hear your thoughts — drop us a line or leave a comment below.
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