I absolutely adore autumn. Okay, I do have a tendency to say the same thing about every season when it appears, from the fragile spring snowdrops to the first frosts of winter… Yet, when it’s the height of autumn and even the cities are covered in colour, I can’t help but feel autumn is the prettiest season going.
And where else could you possibly go to celebrate autumn in Scotland other than Big Tree Country? The region of Perthshire, with over 200,000 acres of woodland, is the obvious choice for a colourful weekend escape. One of my favourite spots is the famed Hermitage, whose soils once felt the feet of Wordsworth, Queen Victoria and Mendelssohn. Surely that list of invitees says it all about the inspiration you’ll discover in this landscape!
Even though it’s an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, we love leaving the city behind, even if the end result is just a short afternoon wander around this beautiful woodland. There’s ample parking at this National Trust for Scotland site just outside Dunkeld (which itself is the loveliest little town), so we get parked and walk under the railway arches into the thick leaves.
Visiting in the first week of November, we just missed the full flourish of autumn where the kaleidoscope of leaves are glued firmly to the boughs. Instead — after the passing of a few days — leaves had begun to stick to the sides of the paths, and the views looked more like impressionist paintings with dots of pigment than the tangible, colour-blocked autumn we all love.
But even catching the end of autumn is magical. There’s something in the air, that pure smell of earth and the cooling wind, that make you wonder at the changing of the seasons. As I wrote recently on Instagram, ‘These centuries-old trees, the simple cycle of the seasons and the always temperamental weather put everything in perspective. We are but small beings on a large and unforgiving planet.’
In these insane times, where politics tears countries apart and hate rises like bile, we need this kind of escape. We need to remember that — regardless of the stream of unhappy, uncontrollable news — there is a remedy, of sorts. The seasons may be short-lived by nature but they’re also a reminder of the frailty of our small planet… And the insignificance of us headstrong humans.