Scotland – Northern Perthshire

Northern Perthshire
1. Blair Castle
The whitewashed and turreted Blair Castle presents an impressive sight as you approach up the driveway from the centre of Blair Atholl village. Highlights include the soaring entrance hall, with every spare inch of wood panelling covered in weapons, and the vast ballroom, with its timber roof, antlers, and mixture of portraits. The story of Blair Castle will take you from Mary Queen of Scots to the English Civil War, from the Jacobite cause to Queen Victoria’s love affair with the Highlands.

2. The Scottish Cranog Centre
A crannog is a type of ancient loch-dwelling found throughout Scotland and Ireland dating from 5,000 years ago. Many were built out in the water as defensive homesteads and represented symbols of power and wealth. The Scottish Crannog Centre on the shores of Loch Tay, features a unique reconstruction of an early Iron Age loch-dwelling. A visit to the Centre includes a self-guided exhibition, a guided crannog tour, and hands-on ancient crafts and technology demonstrations.

3. The Watermill Bookshop, Art Gallery and Café
The Watermill, near Aberfeldy, is a unique development, bringing together the largest independent bookshop in the rural Highlands with a contemporary art gallery, music and coffee shop, housed in a stunning former watermill in the beautiful Perthshire Highlands. The gallery contains a stunning collection of prints and has a rolling programme of contemporary art exhibitions, and the cafe serves locally-made cakes, fine teas and coffees, savoury tarts, gourmet sandwiches and freshly made soups.

4. Ben Lawers (Hill of the Loud Stream)
Dominating the northern side of Loch Tay is moody Ben Lawers (3984 ft), Perthshire’s highest mountain. From the top there are incredible views towards both the Atlantic and the North Sea, and between the south and west ridges are steep crumbling cliffs on which some of Britain’s most beautiful alpine flowers grow. The ascent should not be tackled unless you are properly equipped for Scottish hill walking, and takes around three hours from the now disused NTS visitor centre.

5. Explorers, the Scottish Plant Collectors, Pitlochry
Explorers, the Scottish Plant Hunters Garden, is an extended garden and forest area which pays tribute to Scottish botanists and collectors who roamed the world in the 18th and 19th centuries in search of new plant species. This is very much a modern rather than a traditional garden, with sinuous trails taking you past some attractive landscapes and features such as an open air ampitheatre, sculptures, and the David Douglas pavilion, a soaring chamber beautifully constructed from Douglas fir.

6. Rannoch Station, Tea Room and Visitor Centre
Rannoch Moor occupies roughly 150 miles of uninhabitable peat bogs over 1000 ft above sea level. There is only one road, skirting its western side, while another struggles west from Pitlochry to reach its eastern edge at Rannoch Station. The only regular form of transport is the West Highland Railway, which stops at Rannoch and, a little to the north, Corrour Station, which has no road at all. It’s the perfect starting point for those who want to explore Scotland’s wilder side.

7. Schiehallion (Fairy Mountain)
Lying between Loch Tay and Loch Tummel and about 10 miles north of Aberfeldy, is the conical and often misty peak of Schiehallion (3520 ft). One of Scotland’s few freestanding hills, Schiehallion is a popular, fairly easy and inspiring climb, with views on a good day to both sides of the coutry and north to the massed ranks of the Highland peaks. The path starts at Braes of Foss, just off the B846 which links Aberfeldy with Kinloch Rannoch. Allow about 4 hours to the top and back.

8. Edradour Distillery, Pitlochry
Edradour is produced in Scotland’s smallest distillery – and is hand made today as it was over 150 years ago by just three men who are devoted to the time-honoured methods of whisky making. Indeed equipment used at the distillery has remained unchanged since the day the distillery opened and is only just capable of producing commercial quantities. Only 12 casks of whisky are produced a week, making Edradour single malt a rare pleasure for a fortunate few.

9. Killiecrankie Visitor Centre
The Killiecrankie Visitor Centre is located on the east side of The Pass of Killiecrankie, a magnificent wooded gorge with the River Garry flowing along its base. Discover the gory facts about the battle of Killiecrankie and the delights of the natural history and wildlife of the Pass. Take a short stroll through attractive woodland with stunning views. Finish your visit with a relaxing cappuccino and home baking from the snack bar and browse around the shop with its good selection of books and souvenirs.

10. The Hermitage Riverside Walk, Dunkeld
Dunkeld is a small, picturesque town situated on the banks of the River Tay and is the centre of a walks network that covers about 30 miles of way-marked paths. Once part of one of the most important 18th century picturesque landscapes in Scotland, an attractive woodland walk leads though spectacularly large Douglas firs to the amazing folly, Ossian’s Hall – once one of the most elaborately furnished garden buildings in Scotland, overlooking the Black Linn waterfall.

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