Sometimes you come upon an idea so wonderfully, beautifully simple that you wonder why it has never happened before. I spent a glorious weekend in Birnam recently, relaxing in Jessie Mac’s Hostel and taking in some of the walks and wildlife right here on my doorstep.
It was during a beer and blether with Brenda, one of the owners at the hostel, that I first heard about the Corbenic Poetry Path. This is a walk through the woods and hillsides of Trochry that is sprinkled with poems by local writers.
Set in the grounds of the old Drumour Shooting Lodge and estate, the path has been created and maintained by the residents of the Corbenic Camphill Community. I was joined by Sue, a local yoga teacher who I met during my stay, and we set off to enjoy a beautiful April, late-afternoon walk under a blue sky and soft, warm breeze.
Trochry is a about a 30 minute drive from Perth City, 15 from Birnam, and the views on the drive up would make this worth it on their own. The path starts just off the wee car park and as you begin to meander through the roadside trees you can feel the magic and warmth of storytelling hanging in the air.
Once the path opens up you will find yourself exploring and experiencing the breathtaking wildness and beauty that makes Perthshire a world class tourist destination. Terrains span from open hillside and moorland through to ancient native woodlands and riverbanks. Views across landscapes boasting forests, mountain ranges and heather hills make every twist and turn a new adventure and our walk became blissfully interrupted with the wildlife and vistas as much as it did the poetry and art.
A still pond brought the low deep croak of spawning frogs, I saw my first bee of 2016 and birds of all breeds sat whistling from the tress along our way. The path has been designed to fit sympathetically into its wild setting and it picks up the many curves and contours of the land it inhabits. We meandered through woodlands, marshland and hillsides that I had no idea existed just a short drive from my front door.
There are little pockets of work underway, stones half-carved and new installations being worked on. Witnessing this process brought a sense of belonging and authenticity to the experience as it became clear that the artists involved were working right here in nature to create this truly beautiful installation. For over two years, volunteers and teams of people have built this path by hand, digging out the route and moving tons of gravel by wheelbarrow.
The writing, the poems, the small glimpses of art sensitively introduced to the wilderness of Perthshire, showcases the work of some of Scotland’s best poets. These men and women all live and write in Scotland and many live close to Corbenic which, as you’d guess, has been the inspiration for the works you will enjoy.
The poets involved so far include John Glenday, Jim Carruth, Kenneth Steven, Ron Butlin, Patricia Ace, Anne Connolly, Andy Jackson, Jon Plunkett, Eileen Carney Hulme, Morgan Downie, Sally Evans, Alec Finlay, Chrys Salt, Mary McDougall, Leonard McDermid, Nikki Magennis and Margaret Gilles Brown. We also have poems ready for inclusion from Kathleen Jamie, Brian Johnstone, Chris Powici Elizabeth Rimmer and Richard Livermore.
From wee short phrases carved into stone, to lines of poetry printed atop duck-egg blue posts, you will laugh, you will think and you will experience all of the emotions that have made Scottish poets so well-read the world over.
As well as the writers, the path showcases the work and interpretations of stone carver, Martin Reilly who is one of the best artisan carvers in Scotland today. Martin has set up his work station within the Corbenic Community and now carves for the Poetry Path project while teaching his craft to others in the community.
Like all art, and nature, The Corbenic Poetry Path is a never-ending project and the volunteers and artists involved will add and develop new works as time goes on. It is currently 3km long and my small word of wisdom would be to give yourself at least an hour. You will be stopped by views, by wildlife, by art and words as you make your way through this unique and wonderful path. I know I will visit again and again and I urge you to go; go today and leave with a little slice of Perthshire etched into your soul.
The Creators: Corbenic Camphill is a community for adults with learning difficulties who enjoy the freedom to build meaningful and busy lives. They live on a fifty acre estate amongst the beautiful hills of Highland Perthshire, Scotland and as well as creating this beautiful and free attraction for locals and tourists to Perthshire alike, they also run workshops, open days and so much more. Visit their website here>>>