As the winter sleet and snow falls softly outside the lounge windows we have to make a decision. Stay snuggled up warm on the worn leather couches or brave the elements and explore the many walking and hiking tracks around stunning Loch Tay in the Scottish Highlands.
Living in Scotland for over a year now means that we have quickly learnt that if you waited for clear weather when you are exploring here then you would never get anything done.
So with the warmth of summer (and sometimes better weather) still months away we piled into the car to find some walks.
I am a sucker for waterfalls so when we read that the Falls of Moness were located on one of the best walks in Scotland was just a few minutes down the road near Aberfeldy we had to check it out. The walk, aptly named the “Birks of Aberfeldy”, were immortalised by the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns in the poem of the same name and captures their beauty.
The walk is a short 4 km (2.5 miles) circular track and is well maintained. The track begins off the A826 and can be easily completed in about an hour. However, if the weather allows it then take along a picnic and take your time.
Walking several hundred metres from the carpark the gorge begins to narrow and you have two options on this loop track. Either cross the river now via the bridge on the left or continue straight up along the right bank. We chose the latter although I would probably recommend taking the left side if we did it again purely so that as you near the top you will get a better initial view of the Falls of Moness.
In the middle of winter, like on our trip, sections of the river are actually frozen along the banks. While clinging icicles glisten from under the overhangs of the jagged cliff face. Through the steeper sections the crystal clear waters continue to flow and tumble over the smooth boulders.
The first section of the walk climbs gradually following the river. As the gorge continues to narrow the banks become steeper and the path begins to zigzag to the top. Be careful crossing the wooden bridges that pass over smaller waterfalls as they can be slippery! They also provide a nice respite from the uphill slog.
Not to mention the chance to get some great photos.
As you near the top don’t forget to look back over your shoulder as the valley floor created by the meandering River Tay is spread out at your feet.
From the top you should be able to hear a low rumbling as the water cascades over the Moness Falls. The viewing platform provides one of the best views directly across from the waterfall. Although my favourite spot was actually the bridge over the top.
Walking back into the shadows of the gorge on the return route the bright green moss covers the mature birch trees.
Once you reach the valley floor make sure you stop in Kenmore or Aberfeldy to rest those weary legs, warm up and fill up on some hearty Scottish tucker.