LOCATED in the very heart of Scotland, Perthshire boasts some of the country’s most beautiful scenery.
The pretty town of Aberfeldy inspired Robert Burns to write the poem “The Birks of Aberfeldy”. The area’s mixed woodland still captivates visitors, and a popular walk has the Falls of Moness as its centerpiece. There’s a plaque marking the spot where Burns is believed to have stopped and admired the view.
Castle Menzies, outside Aberfeldy, is an imposing 16th-century fortress which was the seat of the chiefs of Clan Menzies for over 400 years. It nearly fell into complete ruin but the Clan Menzies Society instigated a restoration programme and now the grand old place is open to the public.
Also on the outskirts of Aberfeldy is Dewar’s World of Whisky, a heritage centre featuring an audio guide and interactive exhibits as well as distillery tours.
Comrie, on the banks of the River Earn, has the nickname “Shaky Toun” as it lies on the Highland Fault. The world’s first seismometers were set up in the village in 1840 and the equipment is still on display at Earthquake House – one of the oldest permanent seismic observatories in the world.
Crieff is where the cattle markets were held in bygone times and it remains a busy market town. The town has the oldest distillery in Scotland at Glenturret (established in 1775) and there are guided tours of the gleaming stills.
Dunkeld is reached over a seven-span stone bridge, built in 1809 by Thomas Telford. The village has an impressive built heritage, with late 17th-century houses surrounding the ruined cathedral, most of which dates from the 13th century.
Dunkeld was once the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland and the country’s first king, Kenneth MacAlpin, held court there. Much work has been carried out by the National Trust for Scotland and the local authority to preserve the town’s old buildings.
Close to Dunkeld, just off the A9 with its own car park, is the Hermitage riverside walk. It follows a winding route through dense woodland and takes in the interesting Victorian folly known as Ossian's Hall, overlooking a waterfall.
Pitlochry became a popular tourist destination in the late 19th century thanks to Queen Victoria. The elegant hotels and houses built for the holidaying Victorians give an air of grandeur to the place.
Visitors still throng the streets today, attracted by craft shops, knitwear businesses, quaint tearooms and restaurants with fine views over the town.
Down by the River Tummel, walk over the swinging suspension footbridge to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre. You can watch up to six different plays in a single week during the summer season.
In the theatre’s grounds, visit the Scottish Plant Hunters’ Garden which celebrates the adventures of the plant-gatherers of the 18th and 19th centuries. These botanists travelled the world, braving shipwrecks, hostile natives and pirates, to track down new species which are now common in our gardens.
Nearby the fish ladder helps wild salmon scale the walls of a hydroelectric dam as they make their long journey back upstream to spawn. Around 5,000 salmon use the ladder each year from April until September.
Every autumn Pitlochry hosts The Enchanted Forest – a light and music show which transforms surrounding woodland into a fairytale landscape.
Blair Castle, near Pitlochry, is one of Perthshire’s most distinctive landmarks. The white-walled stately home is the base of the Atholl Highlanders, Europe’s only remaining private army, and visitors can enjoy a range of family-friendly attractions.
Take a trip into ancient history at the Scottish Crannog Centre near Kenmore on Loch Tay. You can explore this authentic reconstructed Iron Age dwelling, built on stilts out on the loch as a defensive homestead. There’s an exhibition showing some of the Iron Age discoveries that were well preserved in the loch’s cold, peaty waters.
The Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 is remembered at a visitor centre which also has a display on natural history. There’s a gift shop too, with pleasant woodland walks nearby.
Killiecrankie is perhaps best known for the Soldier’s Leap, where Donald MacBean is said to have jumped to safety across the steep gorge, evading the clutches of pursuing Highlanders.
The House of Bruar is a popular stopping-off point for those driving up and down the A9. It has a range of country clothing shops, a spacious restaurant and a well-stocked food hall selling fresh Scottish produce. You can also take an enjoyable stroll up to the picturesque Falls of Bruar.
Perthshire has an exciting range of outdoor activities – from hill-walking, rock-climbing and mountain-biking to abseiling, canyoning and white-water river rafting.