The Winter’s Trail

  14 Feb '24   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Spring might be on its way in Scotland but it’s still February and still seasonally cold. The crisp chill makes it one of the favourite times of year and last week, feeling the need to get outside, I ventured north for four days, staying in the Old Still in the village of Weem in Highland Perthshire. This tiny village outside Aberfeldy sits just shy of the opening of Glen Lyon – Scotland’s ‘longest, loneliest, and loveliest’ glen. I took the chance to follow the Scotland by the Book App to point me in the direction of the best local reads, purchased of course at the shop the app highlighted, the Watermill bookshop in Aberfeldy.

Having gazed longingly out the window on the drive north, the boots were finally on. But between quiet, contemplative hill-walks ­– with staggering views – in the icy conditions of a rewardingly beautiful Glen Lyon, or through ‘big tree country’ in the Forest Walk near Castle Menzies with St David’s Well (or St Cuthbert’s cistern) and its legends of dragons and imprisoned princesses, or exploring the majestic woodland hide-away of Cluny House Gardens complete with red squirrels… I took the chance to chill in front of the log stove and reread Merryn Glover’s award-winning novel, Of Stone and Sky. I like to think of The Ferryman bar in the novel as The Black Watch Bar in Aberfeldy.

The hills on the first day had a dusting of snow and were icy under foot. In areas, the sunlight was working its magic, the description of ‘dun’ was perfect ­– browns with just a little green emerging after the worst of the winter cold, brought to life with the incredible light. By the time we were leaving on the last day, the snow had come down and the drive back was stunning.

If you are heading north, i can highly recommend this spot and of course a few of the books to be read while there…

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