Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe – Stirling, Scotland - Atlas Obscura

Stirling, Scotland

Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe

This enchanting hill is home to fairy lore and a sinister local mystery. 

It’s no secret that Scotland is full of fairy lore. At Doon Hill, that touch of otherworldly enchantment feels extra strong. It’s a magical place to take kids or kids-at-heart to search for fairy houses or tie a ribbon to a tree to make a wish.

The Doon Hill and Fairy Knowe is as mysterious as it is magical. The peaceful spot was a particular source of fascination for Reverend Robert Kirk, who became the local minister in 1685. He was a frequent visitor to Doon Hill and would note his findings on the fairy folk who lived there.

Kirk was a well-educated man—he’s known as being the first person to translate the Bible into Gaelic—said to have second sight. He wrote a book called The Secret Commonwealth detailing the habits of fairies and elves. Tragically, Kirk never lived to see his book published. His work was published postmortem, more than a century after his body was found on Doon Hill.

Had the reverend angered the fairies, or perhaps discovered too much? Some say he was spirited away by them to serve as Chaplain to their queen while leaving a changeling body for mortals to bury in the local cemetery. Others say his spirit is trapped in the large pine at the top of the hill and acts as a mediator between this world and the Fairy Realm for those who visit to have wishes granted.

Know Before You Go

Park at the Aberfoyle visitor center and walk to the west side of the car park. Follow the path over the bridge and up the hill. You can find Reverend Kirk's grave in the cemetery, then continue up the hill. Doon Hill is signposted from there. It's probably a five-mile walk round trip. Suitable walking shoes are recommended. Bring a ribbon and make a wish if you choose to visit. 

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