Faskally Wood: if you treasure off the beaten path experiences which include nature, history, and unexpected stories think about adding it to your ideas for places to visit in Scotland.
Faskally Wood is in Highland Perthshire in eastern part of the center of Scotland, just outside the town of Pitlochry. Several reasons to visit:
Within Faskally Wood and nearby there are a number of places to enjoy quiet walks. Many of them are level or with moderate ascents, though you may certainly find challenging routes as well. The Bealach Path, for instance, links Pitlochry with Killiecrankie. On this path, you’ll walk along waters and over high moorland. If you go the whole length of this path it’s about eleven miles or close to 18 km.
Instead you might turn off the Bealach Path to climb Ben Vrackie. Be aware it’s most often very windy at the top of Ben Vrackie, but the views across Highland Perthshire are worth it, and while you shouldn’t do this path without proper boots and other preparations, you will find a well made (but steep!) path up the hill. The Tourist Information Centre in Pitlochry has a fine leaflet with details and helpful folk to advise you about all the walks and any weather conditions you should know about.
While you’re out walking, keep an eye out for what you may see in nature. The wildlife you may encounter changes with the seasons. In walks along watersides you might see frogs and waterfowl. You may see red squirrels scurrying along tree branches, or catch a glimpse of grouse in the ground cover or red deer in the distance. In the higher elevations you might see a golden eagle in flight.
The trees themselves have their own stories to tell. There have been forests in this area far back into time – it is part of Highland Perthshire’s Big Tree Country after all. Many of the trees you will see now are a century or more old, planted when Faskally Wood was part of a private estate. Others come from the time in the mid twentieth century when Faskally House in the wood was a training center for foresters. Trees you may see include Douglas fir, silver fir, birch, larch, oak, and wild cherry. The woodlands are engaging to explore any time of year, and are especially spectacular in autumn.
Autumn sees two engaging festivals in and near Faskally Wood, too. The Enchanted Forest, which usually runs late in October or early in November, has been creating ways to view Faskally Wood through sound and light for more than fifteen years. a few eyars back the theme was Of the Wild, especially celebrating nature. There is a different theme each year.
Perthshire Amber happens every autumn in venues around Pitlochry and nearby. After a number of years of longer festivals the event, founded by singer and songwriter and Perthshire native Dougie Maclean, is distilled down to a long weekend of performances in the first days of November. The lineup of musicians most often includes well known Scots as well as those from overseas, and rising stars too, along with workshops, sessions, and community events.
People have been coming to Faskally Wood since ancient times. Rocks with prehistoric cup and ring marks have been found. Should you take the quiet road at the start of the path up to Craigower, you will be walking a route trod by Robert the Bruce in the 14th century, by Mary Queen of Scots in the 16th century, and by those who were on their ways to fight in the battle of Killiecrankie in the Jacobite uprising of 1689.
Ancient stone circles have been found in Faskally Wood, too, and there’s a rather more recent, if somewhat indirect, stone circle set of connections. A bit to the west of Faskally Wood is Kinloch Rannoch, where the fictional Craigh na Dun stones were set up for the filming of the television series Outlander. Faskally Wood itself plays a part in season four of Outlander, which is set to begin airing early in November. The wood, in this instance, stands in for a place rather distant from Highland Perthshire. In case you’ve not been following the series of books or films of Outlander, I’ll leave where that is that unsaid – but you may recognize parts of Faskally Wood in season 4 of the show.
Music to go along with this: Hannah Fisher, Ryan Young, and Dougie Maclean are among artists who have appeared at Perthshire Amber – I recommend each of them, in live performance and on record. Recordings to explore include Ryan Young’s self titled debut, Hannah Fisher’s Watching Time, and The Essential Dougie Maclean.
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