The Hermitage, Dunkeld, and one of Britain’s tallest trees

A feisty River Braan flowing through the Hermitage.

More from my Scotland trip in November! The day after my tarriance in the Caledonian pinewood at Glenmore, I drove south to Dunkeld and met up with a good friend from university who I’d not seen in almost a year. Things worked out well because I wanted to visit the Hermitage to see one of Britain’s tallest trees, and he used to work in Dunkeld and was familiar with the area.

Just before the supertall tree I wished to see was this fine Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), itself an impressive enough sight with its towering, ramrod-straight stem.

The tree I came to see – the supertall tree – is the one on the right. In February 2009, a team of arborists from Sparsholt College in Hampshire were tasked with making official measurements for the Tree Register, who pointed them at four candidates for Britain’s tallest tree. The tallest was the Stronardron Douglas fir near Dunans Castle, Argyll, which measured 63.79 m (209 ft). Second place went to the grand fir in Diana’s Grove at Blair Castle, Blair Atholl (62.70 m) – which I visited at the end of my trip – while third place went to the Dughall Mor Douglas fir at Inverness (62.02 m). The fourth tallest tree was the supertall Douglas fir in my photograph, which was found to be 61.31 m tall. It is now the third tallest tree since the Blair Castle tree came a cropper in 2010 (which I’ll cover in the next post!), assuming no other reshuffling of the champs, which are raising the bar all the time.

The tallest Douglas firs in the world are found in their native range in North America. They are about the 100-metre mark! The only other species of tree with individuals taller than 100 m is Sequoia sempervirens - the California or coast redwood. The world’s tallest known living organism is a coast redwood called Hyperion – it was discovered in 2006 and has been measured at a whopping 115.6 m (379.3)!

The Black Linn Falls – seen under the bridge in the first photo - were fair roaring. I remember my mate telling me he’d seen salmon leaping up the falls before. I was well jel!

After crossing the bridge and checking out Ossian’s Hall and Ossian’s Cave we walked upstream...

We crossed back over the Braan at the Rumbling Bridge, where there are more falls, and looped back to where we started, on the way passing these mushrooms sprouting from a heavily decayed birch. Then back to Dunkeld for dinner in the Atholl Arms Hotel!

Posted in Gone for a walk + Holidays and field trips + Notable trees

7 comments for The Hermitage, Dunkeld, and one of Britain’s tallest trees

Forest Keeper

February 17, 2012 - 06:12 GMT

Beautiful Pictures! I especially like the fungi on the Birch and the Douglas Fir trunk.


February 17, 2012 - 12:30 GMT

Wonderful images. I especially admire the last-but-one, the layers of trees almost look frosty.
Did you take the oyster mushrooms back for dinner?


February 17, 2012 - 14:55 GMT

Thank-you both!
I didn't take the mushrooms - dinner was a venison burger with a powerful blue cheese. I've never picked any wild mushrooms actually. I like to leave them as they are, doing their own thing.
The 'frost' on the trees is in fact a substantial coating of lichen!

marly youmans

February 20, 2012 - 01:03 GMT

I enjoyed coming along for this journey. Trees are a grand reason for going visiting.


February 20, 2012 - 21:20 GMT

They certainly are! Thanks Marly.

Bernie Paquette

February 26, 2012 - 00:18 GMT

Beautiful trees. The best part is they are still standing.
Even in Vermont(U.S.) cities, we sometimes lose very old friends. R.I.P. I already miss your stillness and silence. Your majestic more @
Bernie Paquette


March 1, 2012 - 20:38 GMT

The tall trees here are actually relatively young. They aren't a native species - Douglas fir was only introduced to Britain in 1827, grand fir in 1832 - so are not yet two centuries old!

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