Birnam Hill (1324ft), Craig Vinean (1247ft), the wooded Craigiebarns(1106ft) and Newtyle (996ft) – each offer differing aspects of this attractive cathedral town set in the wooded Tay Valley. The lawn-surrounded cathedral ruins date from the 14th and 15th centuries. The cathedral was despoiled in 1689 at the Battle of Dunkeld. The National Trust for Scotland’s Visitor Centre is in the converted ‘Little Houses’ which were rebuilt after the battle. At the Loch of Lowes Nature Reserve, a variety of wildlife can be observed.
The little town of Blairgowrie lies at the centre of a prosperous soft-fruitgrowing area, and it is also popular for angling and as a tourist centre. The River Ericht is spanned here by the 19th-century Brig o’Blair which links the town to Ratray; two miles further north it flows through a steep gorge, above which stands 17th-century Craighall, the mansion which may be the original of Tully-Veolan in Scott’s Waverley. Meickleour, four miles south of the town, is notable for a magnificent beech hedge over 200 years old, 600 yds long and 90 ft high – at modern Meickleour House.
This pretty village of thatched cottages, lying in a narrow valley at the entrance of Glen Lyon, was renovated in the late 19th century by Sir Donald Currie, a wealthy shipowner and resident of Glen Lyon House. The way into the beautiful glen lies over the Pass of Lyon. In the churchyard is a huge yew tree, which is said to be 3000 years old and is probably the most ancient tree in Britain. The surrounding countryside is full of prehistoric remains: ring forts, stone circles, disc barrows and standing stones. However, the local tradition that Pontius Pilate was born here while his father was on an embassy from the Emperor Augustus, has been dismissed by archaeologists.
Glengoulandie Deer Park
Pets must be kept in cars when visiting this park where red deer, Highland cattle and other animals and birds are kept in surroundings as much like their natural environment as possible.
Killiecrankie is best known for the battle which took place at the head of the Pass in 1689, when Viscount Dundee the ‘Bonnie Dundee’ of Scott‘s ballad won a decisive victory for the Jacobite cause, though he was killed in his moment of triumph. The National Trust for Scotland owns much of the Pass, and its Visitor Centre stands close to the site of the battle. A steep path runs down to the narrow opening of the gorge known as ‘Soldier’s Lea ’, because a trooper fleeing from the Highlanders jumped across the River Garry here.
Well known for its salmon trout, Loch Leven is the site of international trout angling competitions each year; in winter it is also a centre for the sport of curling. The ruins of 15th-century Loch Leven Castle from which Mary Queen of Scots escaped in 1568 with the help of a gaoler, stand on an island which can be visited by boat in the summer months. 17th-century Kinross House built by Sir William Bruce, the architect of the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, is set in beautiful grounds on the west shore between the town of Kinross and the waterside.
Perth was the capital of the Scottish Kingdom until 1437, and as such, the ancient royal burgh at the head of the Tay estuary is rich in historical associations. Balhousie Castle, near North Inch golf course, houses the Black Watch Regimental Museum. The Black Watch has many American connections and its pipeband played at the funeral of John F Kennedy. Also of interest are the Perth Museum and Art Gallery, and a Caithness Glass factory, which is open to visitors. Branklyn Garden on the road to Dundee, is famous for rhododendrons, shrubs and alpineplants, and has been called the finest garden of its size (two acres) in Britain.
Scone (pronounced ‘Skoon’) was the capital of the Pictish kingdom. The Stone of Destiny, reputed to be Jacob’s pillow, was brought here from Iona in AD 843. In 1296 it was captured by Edward I of England and forms part of the Coronation Chair in Westminster Abbey. The abbey and palace at Scone were founded by Alexander I in about 1114. The early kings of Scotland until the time of James I- were crowned here. But in 1559 an angry mob from Perth, drunk with the rhetoric of that religious pedagogue John Knox, destroyed them. The palace was rebuilt in the 16th century, and Charles II was the last king to be crowned in it. In 1950 the Stone of Destiny was stolen from Westminster, and later discovered beneath the high altar in the ruins of Arbroath Abbey. The present Scone Palace was built in the early 19th century as the home of the Earl of Mansfield. Inside are fine collections of furniture, china and ivory. The grounds contain a pinetum planted with Douglas fir seeds sent from America in 1834 by David Douglas. Douglas the famous botanist was born here and worked on the estate.