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Birnam is a village in the Highland part of Perth and Kinross, which grew up in the 19th century as a resort town when the railway reached it. It's on the west bank of the River Tay, which here makes an S-bend, so it becomes the south bank. It's connected by the 200-year old Telford Bridge to Dunkeld on the east bank. Their combined population in 2021 was 1350.

A few ancient trees are all that remain of the primeval Birnam Wood — the one that marched off to Dunsinane in Shakespeare's play Macbeth — but there are extensive modern woodlands above Craigvinean.


Visitor information[edit]

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

1 Dunkeld & Birnam Station is close to the village centre. There are trains every hour or so from Edinburgh, Glasgow Queen St and Stirling via Perth, which continue north to Pitlochry, Aviemore and Inverness. (Some Inverness trains don't stop here, change at Perth.) The Caledonian Highland Sleeper (for Inverness) runs overnight Su-F leaving London Euston after 9PM and dropping off here towards 6AM; the southbound sleeper picks up around 11PM to reach Euston for 8AM. You might prefer to take the Lowland Sleeper from Euston towards midnight and change at Edinburgh for a daytime train; going south you need to leave Birnam before 9PM to pick up the southbound sleeper in Edinburgh.

This station is not suitable for passengers with impaired mobility. Trains in both directions use Platform 1, which has step-free access; Platform 2 is only accessible by footbridge. Both platforms are low like a continental halt, so the on-train ramp can't be used.

By bus[edit]

Most of the inter-city buses along the A9 rush past Birnam, so you need to change either in Perth or at Broxden P&R on its outskirts. Citylink M91 is a direct bus once daily from Edinburgh via Halbeath (for Fife), Kinross, Broxden P&R and Perth, taking 2 hours to Birnam and continuing to Pitlochry, Blair Atholl, Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore and Inverness.

Stagecoach Bus 23 / 27 runs every hour or so from Perth via Birnam to Aberfeldy.

By car[edit]

Access from the A9 Edinburgh to Inverness road is from junctions at the north and south ends of the village.

By plane[edit]

Edinburgh Airport is an 80-min drive from Birnam. From the airport take the direct bus to Inverkeithing and get the train to Perth, where you'll probably have to change: the Edinburgh-Inverness trains stop either at Inverkeithing or Birnam but not both. The other route is to take the tram from the airport to Edinburgh Haymarket, then a train to Stirling, change for the Glasgow-Inverness train.

Get around[edit]

Walking is fine for Birnam, Little Dunkeld and Dunkeld. Buses and trains run up the valley from Perth through Birnam to Pitlochry and Aberfeldy - see "Get in" - but you'll need your own transport to get anywhere else.

Taxi: Birnam Autocabs, based at Perth Road, Birnam. +44 1350 728828.



He was born in 1005 and his full name was Macbeth MacFinlay, thus he was son of Finlay and his Christian name was Macbeth, meaning “righteous” or “son of life”. He was Lord of Moray, a large region stretching up to Sutherland; further north was Viking territory, while south lay the Kingdom of Alba. In 1040 King Duncan I of Alba attacked Macbeth, but was defeated and killed at Elgin, so Macbeth became King of Alba. There’s no evidence that he was a tyrant, and his reign was secure enough for him to make a pilgrimage to Rome in 1050. But in 1054 the English invaded, his forces were driven back by Duncan’s son the future Malcolm III, and in 1057 Macbeth was slain at Lumphanan near Aberdeen.

Macbeth’s own line died out, whereas Malcolm’s continued, with King James VI & I among his descendants. So when Shakespeare wanted a royal villain without impugning his own monarch, this was a shrewd choice. The play was written in 1606 and has proved a sure theatre-filler ever since, in multiple productions and adaptions. However circa 1900, a young JRR Tolkien was disappointed by the resolution of the witches’ prophecies:

"Laugh to scorn / the power of man, for none of woman born / shall harm Macbeth."
"Macbeth shall never vanquished be until / Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane hill / shall come against him."

Macbeth is dismayed (spoiler alert) when Birnam Wood appears to advance, but actually it doesn’t: it’s just the oncoming army using branches as camouflage. And he’s finally killed by Macduff, who "was from his mother’s womb untimely ripped." So, something like a Caesarean birth – but Macduff was still "of woman born."

Tolkien reckoned Shakespeare had fudged it, so in Lord of The Rings he does better. The Ents are a real forest marching upon the sorcerer Saruman at Isengard. And the Witch-king of the Nazgûl, who is unassailable since "not by the hand of man shall he fall", is slain by Éowyn and Merry, ie by a woman and a Hobbit.

  • Dunkeld Bridge, completed in 1809, spans the Tay to Dunkeld. It has sidewalks on both sides, but is often busy with traffic.
  • Little Dunkeld Kirk 100 yards east of the bridge approach was built in 1798.
  • 1 Birnam Oak Birnam Oak on Wikipedia is on the riverside at the foot of Oak Road. Its girth of 7 metres indicates that it's 500 to 600 years old. It's a last remnant of Birnam Wood, the primeval forest that once cloaked this valley. There are several other old trees nearby, which some visitors mistake for the oak: the ancient sycamore is larger but is a mere 300 years old. Recognise the real thing by (a) it not being a sycamore, (b) it's specifically a sessile oak: the acorns grow direct from the twigs, not on stalks; and (c) there's a pretty obvious sign.
  • 2 Birnam Arts, Station Road PH8 0DS, +44 1350 727674. W-Su 10AM-4PM. A multi-purpose building with a cafe, Beatrix Potter exhibition and shop, workshops, WiFi, visiting music and drama and the Library. Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) spent several childhood holidays at nearby Dalguise, and it was on a later holiday to Eastwood, just across the river in Dunkeld, that she created the basis for Peter Rabbit. She was also a notable naturalist (Perth Museum displays her paintings of fungi) and conservationist. This exhibition recreates the creatures and environment that inspired her. Exhibition £3.50. Birnam Arts (Q4916878) on Wikidata Birnam Arts on Wikipedia
  • Craigvinean Forest, one mile west of Birnam, is accessed via a track just west of the little River Braan. Autumn colours are gorgeous here but are best admired in the morning: the light fades early as the sun goes behind the crags to the south.
  • 3 The Hermitage within the forest is a collection of 18th-century follies commemorating the Celtic Bard Ossian. These include the "Hall of Mirrors" an art installation reflecting a waterfall, and "Ossian's Cave", which they couldn't recruit a hermit to live in so they paid a guide to dress up as one. All this was inspired by the 18th-century publishing blockbusters of Fingal, Temora and Ossian, supposedly the works of that 3rd-century Bard: they were all the fabrication of the industrious James Macpherson.
  • The Forest is part of Tay Forest Park which comprises a dozen or so separate tracts across Perth and Kinross. The main portion and visitor centre is on Loch Tummel. The emphasis of the park is on recreation and it's nothing like as wild as Cairngorms National Park.
  • 4 Murthly Castle is mostly 19th century. It's nowadays an events venue, no tours.


  • Walk: Birnam is the start of many excellent walks.
  • Niel Gow Fiddle Festival carries on the traditions of the renowned fiddler Niel Gow (1727-1807) - not "Neil", that was his grandson. It's held around 22 March, his birthday, with the next on 22-24 March 2024.
  • Birnam Highland Games are held on the last Saturday in August on Games Park, Little Dunkeld, with the next on Sa 31 Aug 2024. Various stalls, piping and dancing, athletics, and not least the World Haggis Eating Contest.


Birnam Oak

The village shop is at 3 Murthly Terrace by the Birnam Hotel, open daily 6:30AM-9PM.

People do their main shopping in Perth, and you'd do well to refuel there.


  • 1 Chattan Tea Room, Perth Rd PH8 0BH (within Post Office), +44 1350 727342. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-4PM. Unusual building in American Frontier style with herring-bone timber, built in 2004. You half-expect Rin Tin Tin to come bounding out, so yes, the Tea Room is dog-friendly, with a good selection of refreshments.
  • Birnam Inn within Birnam Hotel is open daily 9AM-9PM.


You'll probably do better in Dunkeld.


Chattan Tea Rooms
  • 1 Birnam Hotel, Perth Road PH8 0BQ, +44 1350 728030. Trad hotel near railway station, comfy enough. Amenities include a bar and pizzeria.
  • 2 Merryburn Hotel, Station Road PH8 0DS, +44 1350 727216, . Small guesthouse with 5 rooms, clean and comfy. B&B double £125.
  • Tayburn House, Perth Road PH8 0AA (opposite Birnam Hotel), +44 1350 728822. Clean friendly B&B. B&B double £90.
  • 3 Inver Mill Farm Caravan Park, Birnam PH8 0JR (Off A822 at junction with A9), +44 1350 727477. Clean well-run site by river, open April-Oct. Dogs welcome. Tent £22, caravan £30.
  • Dunkeld across the bridge has more accommodation.


Birnam Hotel

As of March 2024, Birnam, Dunkeld and the A9 have 4G from EE, O2 and Vodafone, but a poor signal from Three. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Birnam
InvernessPitlochry  NW  SE  PerthEdinburgh

This city travel guide to Birnam is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.