A little departure this week from the still-to-be-completed posts from Orkney. As lockdown eased and we were allowed to go back to work, I drove down to England to teach for a week. On the return journey I took a short stop at a beautiful site I haven’t visited for some years: The Hermitage at Dunkeld.
This was particularly on my mind after mentioning in my last post about reading Dorothy Dunnet’s book, King Herafter, the fictionalised tale of Earl Thorfinn’s reign as King of Scotland. At that time the church played a very active role in events, and the most senior bishop kept his seat of power at Dunkeld.
The Hermitage was created in the 18th century to honour the blind bard Ossian, narrator and purported author of a cycle of epic poems published by the Scottish poet James Macpherson. These poems became the basis upon which ‘Romantic Scotland’ was built (see my post on the Scottish Museum’s exhibition).
Besides which, this is another really beautiful place to visit!
Leaving the car park, you pass through an archway into another world.
Walking along the path, you pass through a forest of huge Douglas Firs, which used to include the tallest tree in the UK until it blew down in 2017 at over 260 years old.
After climbing the steps, you arrive at a stone bridge which offers you your first view of the waterfall ahead, and a glimpse of the Hermitage building.
Then it is on, around the corner, and up to the back of the quirky round building that overlooks the Black Linn Falls . As this was before many restrictions were eased, the building was closed.
I’m assuming it is normally open, certainly I have stood inside twice before on the balcony, enthralled by the majestic sound and view of the waterfall, and the way it vibrates all the way from the rocks beneath your feet right up through your body, giving a very full sensory experience.
This time, I had to be content with viewing from the bank below the building. Probably a good reason for another visit in the future!
There are a variety of walks around the area, but this day I needed to be on my way, so I returned by the same route, dodging off to the side of the path to remain socially distanced from other visitors. This new world is very strange, but the beauty remains, and more people have taken the time to realise what wonders there are to be found in nature and the great outdoors.
Long may that continue!