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Hermitage, The

A beautiful woodland area in the Atholl district of Perth and Kinross, The Hermitage straddles the gorge of the River Braan, a mile (1.5 km) to the west of Dunkeld. Despite its natural appearance, this is a carefully planned landscape; with paths and a bridge built to ensure the very best vistas, the falls 'improved' with the use of gunpowder and extensive planting of exotic trees. Overlooking the gorge is a picturesque folly known as Ossian's Hall, built in 1758 for the 2nd Duke of Atholl, which gives a remarkable view of the spectacular waterfalls. In Summer and Autumn it is possible to see salmon leaping up the falls to reach their spawning grounds. Notable visitors to The Hermitage have included poet William Wordsworth, who came with his sister Dorothy in 1803, composer Felix Mendelssohn and author of children's books, Beatrix Potter. Wordsworth was sufficiently moved by his experience that he wrote a poem Effusion in the Pleasure-Ground on the Banks of the Bran, near Dunkeld. In 1944 the folly, falls and 13 ha (33 acres) of surrounding land were gifted to the National Trust for Scotland by the widow of the 8th Duke of Atholl. In 1952, the Trust restored Ossian's Hall and the surrounding landscape, opening a nature trail here in 1966. Also of interest is one of Scotland's tallest trees - a Douglas Fir measured at 65m / 212 feet in 1994, and another romantic folly called Ossian's Cave, a place designed to evoke the atmosphere of the cell occupied by the legendary 3rd-century bard Ossian who sang of the deeds of his father, the great Celtic warrior Fingal.


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