Dunkeld, Europe’s Oldest Tree and Loch Rannoch – Scotland 2010

On leaving St Andrews, we headed up across the River Tay, past Dundee and Perth and towards Dunkeld, which is a pleasant, if touristy, town whose main attraction was unclear. It does, however, have a small cathedral in a perfect setting – well worth the short walk from the town centre/riverside parking.

Dunkeld Cathedral
Dunkeld Cathedral
Dunkeld Cathedral gardens
In the gardens of Dunkeld Cathedral

En route from Dunkeld to Glen Lyon, we called in at Fortingall to see what’s left of Europe’s oldest tree (probably). It’s thought to be 5,000 years old and is a yew tree – but there isn’t that much left of it, thanks to 19th century vandalism and souvenir hunters. It’s a bit of a sorry sight; call in if you’re passing by, but don’t go too far out of your way…

Europe's oldest tree, Fortingall, Scotland
Centuries of souvenir hunting and vandalism haven't done Europe's oldest tree - a 5,000 year-old yew - any favours

Past Fortingall we drove alongside Glen Lyon for a while before retracing our steps and driving up the B846 to the much more impressive Loch Rannoch. It was time to find somewhere to stop for the day and the lochside road gave us our first insight into the Scottish wild camping laws – basically, you can camp anywhere as long as you are away from private dwellings and don’t make a mess (visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com for info and remember that your right to go anywhere doesn’t extend to motorised vehicles).

We pulled into a small clearing at the side of the road and, instead of a ‘no overnight parking’ sign, we were presented with a sign offering helpful advice on how to camp responsibly – together with stunning views of the Loch. Needless to say we stayed the night here. Further up and down the loch, at similar points, it was possible to see people camping in tents right by the water. It’s not like that in England…

(Despite this, there are plenty of “No Overnight Parking” signs in Scotland, sometimes in the most unlikely places. I have a theory that this relates to the proximity of the nearest Caravan Club camp site – look out for a future post on wild camping in Scotland.)

Wild camping by Loch Rannoch
The view from our wild camp spot at the side of Loch Rannoch...


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