I visited Aberfeldy in winter. It's a time of year when there are few
tourists around, and yet it is also a time of year when Scotland is at
its most beautiful. When I was there a bus stopped at the Black Watch
memorial to disgorge its payload of tourists. They all dutifully took a
snap or two, got back on the bus, and left. Visitors like that don't
actually see Scotland. They just tick things off a list.
In 1787, during his tour of Scotland, Robert Burns visited Aberfeldy. In
exploring the area he made his way through a forest at the side of a
deep gorge. There, he uncovered a place of such beauty that he felt
inspired to write a song. Sitting on a stone ledge, he put pen to paper.
'The braes ascend like lofty wa's,
The foaming stream, deep-roaring fa's,
O'er-hung wi' fragrant spreading shaws -
The birks of Aberfeldy.
Today, you can sit on what is claimed to be the very stone ledge sat on
by Burns when he penned the song. I have to tell you that, for me, the
Birks of Aberfeldy is probably one of the most picturesque, most exciting,
and most enchanting places I have ever seen. Just being there makes one
want to sigh aloud. And in winter it is magical; a special place where
silver unicorns bow their heads above streams of glass.