Going up Doon Hill

River Forth at Aberfoyle

Yesterday, 1st December, was a lovely crisp, winter day so we decided to go for a walk in the Trossachs. We drove to Aberfoyle, less than 30 miles from Glasgow, and followed the trail to Doon Hill, home of the fairies. Allegedly.

The minister in Aberfoyle between 1685 and 1692 was Reverend Robert Kirk who had a strong interest in local folklore and wrote a famous book telling the secrets of the fairies. Doon Hill is the site of their revenge. The fairies were so cross with Kirk’s revelations that they kidnapped him and encased his soul in the pine tree at the top of the hill.

People sometimes leave offerings to the fairies in the form of clouties (cloths) in the hope that, as the cloutie rots, the illness or misfortune affecting the person on whose behalf it was placed will also vanish. It’s a few years since we did this walk, and it seems from the new trail notice, that some people aren’t quite getting the concept and are leaving non-biodegradable items which are never going to rot.

Something else that was new to us were the fairy houses, carved from tree stumps, on the way up the slope. Lots of offerings here.

On the other hand, the top of the hill seems to have been cleared quite considerably. We remembered the surrounding oaks all being decorated and bells tinkling in the breeze. Even if you don’t believe in the fairies, that made it quite a haunting place. Now, the offerings are largely confined to the central Scots pine, home to Rev Kirk’s soul. Or not.

After descending Doon Hill, the path took us through woodland, following the River Forth for a while, before returning to Aberfoyle. The frosty trees and the late afternoon light were wonderfully atmospheric.

It’s a while since I’ve linked up with Jo’s Monday Walk. If I’ve made you feel cold, I suggest you hop over there immediately for a warm in some Portuguese sun.

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