The Most Beautiful places in Scotland - Perthshire
Exploring England, Scotland, and Wales
In this series I'll be looking at some of the most beautiful places in Scotland, from historic cities like Edinburgh to remote islands like Colonsay, from the Highlands to Orkney. Along the way I'll be sharing some of my favourite photos from over 15 years of exploring Scotland.
Our family has visited Perthshire on numerous occasions, and we keep getting drawn back again and again. In fact, we've been studying estate agent advertisements with an eye to buying a home there. And is it any wonder, when you have spectacular places to visit like these?
This natural rock outcrop on the north shore of Loch Tummel near Pitlochry offers one of the most spectacular views in Scotland (high praise indeed!). On a clear day, you can see the length of Loch Tummel to the peak of Schiehallion, and beyond to Loch Rannoch and the distant mountaintops of Glencoe.
Queen's View was made famous after Queen Victoria visited here in the 19th century but it was a well-known viewpoint for centuries before that. hough Queen Victoria thought that Queen's View was named for her, it seems more likely that it was named for Isabella, the first wife of Robert Bruce.
The pretty village of Kenmore stands at the eastern end of Loch Tay, surrounded by high hills, with views down the loch to Ben Lawers. A mile away on the north side of the loch is the Scottish Crannog Centre.
In the picturesque village square is the Kenmore Hotel, dating to the 16th century and thought to be the oldest inn in Scotland. The hotel's porch is supported on tree trunks.
On the outskirts of the village is Taymouth Castle, a stunning 19th-century mansion on the site of a medieval castle.
There are trails through the Taymouth Castle parkland, laid out as a picturesque designed landscape in the 18th century. This view of Kenmore was taken from a viewpoint on Drummond Hill, now part of a Forestry Commission Scotland woodland.
The jewel in the heart of Highland Perthshire is Loch Tay, which stretches roughly east to west from Kenmore to Killin in Stirling. on the north shore of the loch rises Ben Lawers, set in a stunning natural landscape now preserved by the National Trust for Scotland.
A few miles north is Glen Lyon, arguably the loveliest glen in Scotland. At the eastern end of the glen is the preservation village of Fortingall. In the churchyard stands the Fortingall Yew, traditionally (though incorrectly) said to be the oldest living thing in Europe.
On the south shore of the loch is the Scottish Crannog Centre, a recreated traditional dwelling on a manmade island. Beyond the Crannog Centre at Acharn is the Acharn Hermitage, a picturesque grotto built by the Dukes of Breadalbane to provide a dramatic access point to a viewing platform for Acharn Falls.
Halfway along Loch Tay on the north side is Ben Lawers, one of Scotland's most famous Munros (mountain peaks over 3000 feet high). Ben Lawers is a popular climb for walkers and stands in an amazing natural landscape preserved by the National Trust or Scotland.
The Trust maintains a nature reserve near the mountain base where people who might not want to tackle the summit can enjoy a circular walk through a unique and fragile alpine environment and beyond to the ruins of old shepherd sheilings.
Glen Lyon is the longest enclosed glen in Scotland at 25 miles. In the heart of Glen Lyon is the hamlet of Camusvrachan, where a trail leads across the River Lyon and up Gleinn Da-Eigg. A stiff climb brings you to a peculiar rock formation known as the Praying Hands.
The formation is also known as Fionn's Rock. It was said to have been split in two by an arrow fired by the legendary Celtic hero Fingal, or Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool).
North of the Victorian holiday destination of Pitlochry is the Pass of Killiecrankie, where the River Garry runs through a dramatic gorge between wooded slopes. Here in 1689, a Jacobite army under 'Bonnie' Dundee defeated a force of government soldiers.
One of the government soldiers escaped his enemies by jumping across the gorge at a rocky outcrop now known as Soldier's Leap. The entire gorge is preserved by the National Trust for Scotland. Killiecrankie is simply stunning in autumn when the leaves turn colour.
You can enjoy signposted trails through the woodland to the neighbouring National Trust for Scotland property of the Linn of Tummel, a series of waterfalls at the confluence of the Rivers Tummel and Garry.
On a point of land jutting out into the river is a memorial to Queen Victoria, who visited the Linn of Tummel in 1844. Beside the waterfall is an Edwardian fish ladder built so that salmon returning to spawn could bypass the waterfalls.
A trail leads beside the river to Coronation Bridge, a historic suspension bridge across the River Tummel. The NTS maintains 56 acres of woodlands surrounding the inn of Tummel. Like neighbouring Killiecrankie, this area is at its best in autumn when the leaves change colour.
Between Perth and Pitlochry lies Dunkeld, a town on the River Tay. Though Dunkeld may be no larger than a village, it is big on history! Here you will find Dunkeld Cathedral, one of the finest medieval churches in Scotland. The cathedral dates to 1107 but it stands on a site visited by the saints Mungo and Columba as early as the 7th century.
Only the cathedral chancel and chapter house survived the Reformation; the remainder was left to crumble into a roofless ruin. The cathedral was damaged in the deadly Battle of Dunkeld in 1689. From the cathedral, a lawn leads down to the River Tay where you can see the beautiful 18th-century bridge built by Thomas Telford.
Dunkeld is known for its 18th-century 'Little Houses', 20 delightful merchant's houses on Cathedral Street and High Street. These houses were part of the town rebuilding scheme launched after the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689.
At the centre of Dunkeld is The Cross, where you will find the Atholl Memorial Fountain, built in 1866 in memory of the 6th Duke of Atholl, who brought a piped water supply to Dunkeld.
Just outside Dunkeld is The Hermitage, a glorious woodland plantation laid out in the 18th century as a pleasure ground by the Dukes of Atholl of Dunkeld House. Think of The Hermitage as a picturesque woodland garden on a grand scale, with 18th-century follies such as Ossian's Hall, a romantic viewing platform overlooking Black Linn Falls on the River Braan.
Trails lead through the woodland to Ossian's Cave, a manmade grotto, and to Ossian's Seat, another viewing area high above the river. In the woodland you will find an authentic Native American totem pole, crafted by members of the Squamish Nation of Canada from a Douglas Fir grown in The Hermitage woodland.
Near Blair Atholl is a beautiful woodland beside Bruar Water. A footpath leads along the river to the Falls of Bruar. The name is deceptive; there are actually two waterfalls, the stunningly beautiful Lower Falls, which is relatively easy to access, and the dramatic Upper Falls which requires more effort to reach and offers a less dramatic view.
The Falls of Bruar has been drawing visitors since at least the 18th century. Poet Robert Burns visited, and though he found the falls beautiful he thought the experience of visiting could be improved if the Duke of Atholl were to plant trees on both sides of the river. This the Duke did, though not until after the poet's death.
The landscape we see today is dedicated to Robert Bruce and includes a pair of picturesque footbridges over Bruar Water above each of the falls.
These are just a few highlights of the special places in Perthshire we've had the pleasure to explore over the years. Now it is your turn!