This week’s walk is a nice leisurely four-mile route in the heart of the country around Doon Hill near the beautiful town of Aberfoyle.
It is part of the Doon Hill Fairy Trail which is associated with the 17th–century Gaelic scholar, the Reverend Robert Kirk, Minister of Kirkton Church 1685-92, who investigated local fairy lore and published his famous book, “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies”.
The walk starts at the Scottish Wool Centre Car Park in Aberfoyle, passes through the Riverside Car Park and turns left to cross the road bridge over the River Forth. At the bridge, it is of interest to read the story on the “Poker Tree” Information Panel which provides historical background to the area and is incorporated in Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Rob Roy”.
The walk continues along Manse Road passing Craigmore View housing development on the right. At the gate to the cemetery on the left, pause at the information panel which provides further details of the ‘Fairy’ Minister Robert Kirk, and gives direction to his grave and memorial stone carving located at the rear of the church.
Moving on, the walk swings left at the next junction and follows the sign, “Doonhill Fairy Trail”.
It passes attractive cottages and after passing round a green gate takes the 2nd path on the left, still following the sign, into a wood which winds up a steep hill and emerges onto a flat hilltop with paper streamer “decorations” hanging from the circled trees, pictured.
This hilltop is where Robert Kirk’s body was found dressed only in a nightgown on 14th May 1692. His ‘murder’ has been fabled by the local people, that due to his obsession with fairies and his revelations of their closely guarded secrets, he annoyed the spirit people and they took their revenge. The mature pine with streamers attached is thought of as “a doorway to an underground Fairy Queen’s palace where Robert Kirk’s soul is still held captive”.
Leaving the top, the walk follows the path down the hill (take care there are steep sections) and turns left at the bottom to continue on the existing path.
It crosses a flat bridge over a tributary of the River Forth and takes the left path at the next junction. Looking to the left and over a field it is possible to see and be pleased at having climbed to the top of the wooded Doon Hill.
At the next junction, the walk turns left and follows the sign, “Aberfoyle”, onto a new path which crosses the arch bridge over the Forth, a pleasant spot to stop and admire the water features.
It turns left again onto the old railway track, now the N7 cycle track, passes the Rob Roy Hotel on the right and then runs parallel on the tarmac track between the river and the main road.
From the tarmac track, have a look at the new Bike Park on the left before passing the children’s swing park and the former railway cottages and finally return to the Wool Centre where refreshments are available.