In this week’s issue, Aberfeldy local Polly Pullar looks at the town’s spirited effort to help Ukrainian refugees. But it’s not just the town’s Highland hospitality that puts it on the map, it’s been a historically important and beloved place for centuries. So we decided to find out a bit more about Aberfeldy…
The town was immortalised in a poem, “The Birks of Aberfeldy”, by Robert Burns. Burns visited the area in 1787 with a friend, and was enamoured by the countryside. “Birks” is a Scottish terms for “birch trees”. It’s about the woods around the Falls of Moness, a beautiful gorge just south of the town centre.
It’s thought that the area Burns so admired has been wooded for around 8,000 years. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s a haven for nature. Mosses and ferns thrive here alongside green woodpeckers, sparrowhawks and dippers.
Bridge Over The River Tay
This handsome bridge that crosses the Tay on the north road out of town. It was built under the command of General Wade in the 1730s. Part of the General’s mandate to build infrastructure across the Highlands, it was designed for military use. The intention was to help them move around and subjugate the population.
His legacy includes 40 bridges and around 250 miles of road. Wade mapped out the route of the the A9 as it travels north form Perth to Inverness. Though of course that road has been modernised since then!
The bridge was badly damaged by lightning in the early 20th century, but repaired, and is still in use after nearly 300 years.
Water Worth Working With
The pure water that flows off the Perthshire hills lends itself to whisky-making. Many illegal stills once operated, but gradually closed down leaving just Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery. Both blended whisky and single-malts are made here.
It’s not the only top food and drink destination in the vicinity, either. The Highland Chocolatier is just down the road at Grandtully, producing world-class and award-winning chocolates. Iain Burnett learned his craft from European experts, but honed it here in the Highlands. In 2015 and 2016 Ian won the “World’s Best Truffle” award!
Evidence of early Iron Age settlements exists just down the road at Kenmore. Although the last Crannog sadly burnt down, the Scottish Crannog Centre is in the process of rebuilding. Crannogs are reed-built dwellings that sit out over the water – remarkable features of engineering. They’ve identified more than 20 that once existed around Loch Tay, with more than 600 identified across Scotland.
This Week’s Issue
Read more from Polly Pullar and about Aberfeldy in the last issue. Available in most major supermarkets or to buy online. To make sure you never miss an issue, you can subscribe to The People’s Friend and get every issue delivered straight to your door.