Deputy First Minister and MSP for Perthshire North, John Swinney, officially opened a new waymarked trail on Atholl Estates, (today) taking in the stunning autumn landscape around Blair Castle with Estate Trustee Sarah Troughton.
The new mile long circular route follows an historic route through quiet woodland up to the Balvenie Pillar on top of Tom na Croiche, or Hangman’s Knoll. Erected in 1755 by the 2nd Duke of Atholl, the pillar marks the spot of the last public execution on the estate in 1630, bringing to an end a dark period in its history.
Now, the location offers only uplifting vistas across the estate farmlands, and a glimpse of the statue of Hercules overlooking the Castle’s famous walled garden with Schielhallion, the Fairy Mountain, beyond.
The Balvenie Pillar Trail adds to more than 50 miles of waymarked trails covering the 145,000 acre estate, which is one of Scotland’s most famous visitor destinations. Due to the growing increase in staycations and people’s rediscovered love of nature, Blair Castle and its surrounding estate recently announced that it would extend its opening season, rather than stick to its traditional closing date in October.
Julia Duncan, the Ranger at the Blair Castle Estate worked with a group of volunteers to create the new trail, which connects to others for more strenuous walks. She said:
“Despite its grisly past, the trail to Balvenie Pillar runs through lovely and peaceful woodland which is teeming with life – lots of red squirrels, roe deer, foxes, badgers, sparrowhawk, brown hare and tawny owls, to name but a few. There are few better walks to reconnect with nature.”
Mr Swinney, added:
“I was delighted to open this stunning and picturesque trail, which is a perfect example of the beauty of rural Perthshire.
“With more and more people choosing to holiday at home in Scotland, this is the perfect time to open the new trail, and I am sure it will prove popular with both locals and visitors.
“I offer my congratulations to all those involved in the design and development of this trail, who should be rightly proud of their efforts.”