I can’t really explain how The Hermitage makes me feel, but since visiting the place two years ago I can’t seem to stay away.
Last year, another lockdown was announced before I was to go on my annual two-week break in October. All plans were cancelled and instead I stayed at home, watching Harry Potter and playing World of Warcraft. I never did get to see The Hermitage in a beautiful autumn atmosphere, so I’m grateful that this year I’ve been able to.
It’s just the perfect tranquil woodland walk where you are surrounded by towering Douglas Firs. Then you have the fast-flowing water of the River Brann next to you, the Black Linn Falls waiting behind Ossian’s Hall and if that wasn’t enough, the place smells of crisp pine that you just want to bottle and take home with you (I may or may not have bought a selection of candles that smell like this now…)
I’m finding as time moves on and the more I get to grips with my anxiety, walks through peaceful forest scapes calm down my overthinking mind. Even though I am still struggling with disconnecting for a while and not letting my thoughts take over, being in a place that is earthy and away from it all settles me.
Usually, when I walk through The Hermitage, I take the full signposted circular route. Every time I’ve been I’ve seen something different. The first time there was a red squirrel eating pine cones on a tree branch. The second time a dipper was feeding on the rocks next to the river (my first time seeing this bird). And most recently, Ossian’s Hall was open for people to go in for a better view of the Black Linn Falls as a couple had a wedding there earlier in the day.
Now, this was something else. And I think it marks my favourite visit yet.
Ossian’s Hall is a small building. The Hermitage was built as a retreat decades ago. The Hall is considered a little summerhouse – in 1869 it was partly blown up in protest against the toll charges on the bridge at Dunkeld. The National Trust now look after the place and the Hall has been conserved and protected.
As soon as I saw the door open I just had to rush over for a look. I’ve taken many trips here and it’s never been open so I’ve never seen what lies within!
It’s beautiful. There are so many words I could use and throw together to try and describe it even more but I can’t. It’s simply beautiful. You have a direct view over the Black Linn Falls that are crashing around you, the tall Douglas Firs look to be hugging the Falls and you are standing on an open-view platform looking out. Have you ever had one of those moments when everything around you goes quiet, including that racing mind, and it’s just you and nature? Yeah, I had that moment.
When the Hall isn’t open, I usually go around the side of it to get a side-on view of the Falls which is still as beautiful. But getting out onto a platform in the Hall and being so close to the water just edges out ahead of the side view.
There’s just something about seeing The Hermitage in the autumn. It’s the earthy tones, the red and yellow leaves and the clear water that does it. And of course, that smell of pine!