The Falls of Bruar has been called the Greatest Walk in Perthshire. It has attracted thousands of visitors over the last 250 years. In the mid-1700s the Bruar water drove both a meal mill and a lint mill, there is no evidence of these today.
Who made the Falls of Bruar Famous?
Robert Burns visited Bruar Falls in September 1787. He was struck by the beauty of the falls at the time set in open moorland. He believed the beauty would be enhanced by the planting of trees. So he wrote a poem which consisted of eleven verses, each with eight lines, to the 4th Duke of Atholl. Burns sent the original of the Poem, with a covering letter to Josiah Walker, tutor to the son of the Duke of Athole, from Inverness on 5th September 1787 after he had visited the Duke a few days earlier while on his Highland Tour.
Called a ‘Humble Petition of the Bruar Water’. The poem starts by Burns setting the scene of the almost dry river and pleads with the Duke to help. He even envisages the trout finishing up high and dry on the banks. He asks the duke to plant some trees and shrubs, believing it would then be home to more wild life and make a pleasant place for wandering shepherds, lovers and bards.
As a foot note to the poem Burns wrote “[Footnote 1: Bruar Falls, in Athole, are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful; but their effect is much impaired by the want of trees and shrubs. - R.B.]”
Memorial to Robert Burns.
It was only after Burns’s death in 1796 that the duke responded as a memorial to Burns by laying out paths, bridges, view points and ‘view houses’ and by planting a ‘wild garden’ including the trees that Burn’s had asked for. The Duke’s method of tree planting was ingenious. He took a cannon on to the hill side, loaded it with gunpowder and wadding packed with Scots Pine and European Larch and blasted the seeds across the hill side.
It is because of Burns, that Bruar Falls have attracted many notable visitors.
In 2018 the larch trees and rhododendrons that cover the Fruar Falls walk had to be cut down. Via our ExplorePitlochry Face Book we learnt, "Rhododendron also host phytopthora ramorum, the disease that led to the larch felling. A statutory plant health notice was served due to the infection, this is a legal notice that the landowner had to comply with."
Notable visitors to the Bruar Falls.
The 27 year old William Turner in July 1801 (The English painter and watercolourist). Many critics believe that this expedition represented an influential turning point in Turner’s work.
On the 7th September 1803 the English poet William Wordsworth with sister Dorothy visited the Falls of Bruar. Dorothy was not impressed by the 4th Duke’s plantings saying, “We walked upwards at least three quarters of a mile in the hot sun, with the stream on our right, both sides of which to a considerable height were planted with firs and larches intermingled – children of poor Burns’ song; for his sake we wished that they had been the natural trees of Scotland, birches, ashes, mountain ashes, etc., however, sixty or seventy years from now they will be no unworthy monument to his memory.”
Recently the larch trees have been felled due to European Larch disease an algae-like organism called a water mould. It causes extensive damage and death. The non-indigenous rhododendrons have also been cleared restoring the falls to their former glory.
Queen Victoria visited the falls in September 1844 when staying with the Duke of Atholl.
The Bruar Falls post code and walk details.
The post code for your Sat Nav is Blair Atholl PH18 5TW. The walk is 1.5 miles, allow one and half hours, as you will want to take your time and enjoy the views. Park in the House of Bruar Car Park, walk behind the shopping complex to the Bruar burn and follow it up stream.
IMPORTANT to keep dogs and children under control at all times, on account of the sheer drop from the paths.
Open all year round. Thanks to Atholl Estates who help maintain the walk today. There is a donation box so you can contribute a small thank you for the upkeep of the Falls of Bruar paths. Please drop your spare change in the box near the start. Enjoy your visit.