Finally, on my trip to investigate the life of the Reverend Robert Kirk, I come to Doon Hill. It is said that while ministering at Aberfoyle church, Robert Kirk enjoyed taking regular strolls up Doon Hill, known locally as a 'Dun Shi' or Fairy Hill.
One evening however, Robert Kirk did not return from the hill as usual, infact he never returned at all. His body was found dead on the hill, but it is said that his soul was stolen away by the faeries, who were angry at him for revealing their secrets in his book. The following extract from 'Sketches of Perthshire' by the Reverend Patrick Graham (2nd ed. 1812) tells the story:
"He was walking, it is said, one evening in his night-gown, upon the little eminence to the west of the present manse, which is still reckoned a Dun shi'. He fell down dead, as was believed ; but this was not his fate:
"It was between the night and day,
When the fairy king has power,
That he sunk down (but not) in sinful fray,
and, 'twixt life and death, was snatched away,
To the joyless Elfin bower."
Mr Kirk was the near relation of Graham of Duchray, the ancestor of the present General Graham Stirling. Shortly after his funeral, he appeared in the dress in which he had sunk down, to a mutual relation of his own and of Duchray. "Go," said he to him, "to my cousin Duchray, and tell him that I am not dead ; I fell down in a swoon, and was carried into Fairy-land, where I now am. Tell him, that when he and my friends are assembled at the baptism of my child, (for he had left his wife pregnant) I will appear in the room, and that if he throws the knife which he holds in his hand over my head, I will be released, and restored to human society." The man, it seems, neglected, for some time, to deliver the message. Mr Kirk appeared to him a second time, threatening to haunt him night and day till he executed his commission, which, at length, he did. The time of the baptism arrived. They were seated at table; Mr Kirk entered, but the laird of Duchray, by some unaccountable fatality, neglected to perform the prescribed ceremony. Mr Kirk returned by another door, and was seen no more. It is firmly believed that he is, at this day, in Fairy-land."
So up the faery trail I ventured, to the summit of Doon Hill. As I strolled along the pathway the sunlight twinkled through the tree branches, and mushrooms glistened with the morning dew...
Up we go, further up the hill... past the faery washing line...
As you reach the top of the hill the pathway leads through 2 trees, as is often the case when entering the land of faery, and before you stands a large imposing figure of a tree, a solitary pine. The Minister's pine.
I love the photo below with the light shining through the branches of the Minister's Pine. My camera has this lovely habit of sticking random blue and green lights in photos when it feels like it, I've been told it's something to do with light reflecting off the lense and bouncing off the camera goblins that lurk in the dark spaces where the film would go in normal cameras.
Sketches of Perthshire, Reverend Patrick Graham (2nd ed. 1812)
Walk Highlands - Doon Hill
Site of Scientific Interest - Doon Hill & Fairy Knowe