Often the weather is bad for walks scheduled far in advance, but on this occasion it was stunning. On Saturday, the last day of the Crieff & Strathearn Drovers’ Tryst walking festival, I led a walk titled ‘Royal Views and Waterfalls’ in the most memorable of meteorological conditions.
The two waterfalls were at either end: the Birks of Aberfeldy and the Falls of Acharn. In between we traversed a high level route above Strath Tay. Our start point was shrouded in thick valley fog, but we gradually climbed out of it and eventually had stunning views across the strath to mountains of highland Perthshire. But before that we dipped in and out of the eerie top layer of the fog, bathed in shafts of sunlight.
The royal views were ones we shared with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, albeit a century and a half later. On her first visit to Scotland in 1842 she was a guest of Lord Breadalbane in the imposing Neo-Gothic Taymouth Castle. Her host gave the royal couple a tremendous welcome, with all his tenants turned out in the Campbell tartan. During their stay, they were taken by carriage along ‘Queen’s Drive’, a track that contours above Kenmore. We walked that track, enjoying splendid views of a glassy Loch Tay, before descending to picturesque Acharn. On the way we groped in the dark through the passageway of the Hermit’s Cave to gain a surprise view of the Falls of Acharn.