Annually we make a pilgrimage to some of our beloved beauty spots in our native Scotland to see first the gorgeous spring blossoms in mid-May and then again in mid-October we go to glory in the ‘amber colours’ of autumn.
This year we went up to Dunkeld which is an ancient little town in Perthshire and stayed at the Atholl Arms Hotel. This quaint old hotel played host to Queen Victoria’s daughter the Princess Royal in the second half of the 19th century so you will gather it is a heritage building; the food was excellent however, the bed was comfortable and the shower was hot. It is well located right beside the famous River Tay which is actually the longest river in the whole of the United Kingdom.
The weather lightened soon after our arrival and we pottered about in Dunkeld which has an ancient cathedral, some of it in ruins but nevertheless attractive with fine river walks and other interesting sites.
We then drove up the A9 to Pitlochry which is an attractive town beside the Tay full of shops, cafes, heritage interest, a famous theatre and lovely scenery. Then we proceeded up to Blair Atholl where the Duke of Atholl’s fine castle stands in the valley and is truly lovely. It is about 20 years since I visited but it is well worth the stop to see round.
Onwards we went to Bruar where the House of Bruar is a most elegant shopping complex where some of the finest clothes manufactured in Britain can be found – the home of fine wools, cashmeres and other glorious upmarket clothing. There is moreover a very fine Food Hall which would rival Harrods or Fortnum & Mason in London. I indulged myself with chocolates and other goodies for Christmas.
At Pitlochry during the autumn colours there is a hugely popular sound and light show, held among the giant trees of Faskally Wood once the light has gone….I did not manage to see it myself but am assured by young grandsons that it was ‘awesome’. It is called ‘The Enchanted Forest’.
That evening as the light died with a glorious sunset we had a lovely bottle of house wine back at the hotel and then a splendid dinner…and so to bed. The next day we went to see The Queen’s View which is where Queen Victoria marvelled at the beauty of the Scottish scenery and fell in love with Scotland.
We drove along Loch Tummel having passed the Pass of Killiekrankie (renowned for a battle three centuries ago). That whole area of Perthshire is beautiful and in the autumn one can be lucky and see the Stags preparing for the rut with their roaring and stamping. We had coffee in Kenmore which is at the east end of Loch Tay and then drove along the south shore of this famous long loch.
I reflected that I had first set eyes on it 50 years ago when very young and then had the good fortune to catch two great salmon in its dark waters in April 1965. Playing a 25lb salmon took almost an hour before I won against this king of fish; then half an hour later I managed to land an 18lb salmon as well! – a memorable afternoon indeed. Now I would not think of fishing as they are far too precious to kill, yet those experiences gave me my lifelong love for Scotland and her wild places.
Aberfeldy is another lovely little town to the east of Loch Tay and worth a visit. We however made our way along the south shore and stopped for a light lunch at the Ardeonaig Inn which is now a most elegant place with upmarket facilities and excellent cuisine. Half a century ago that inn was not a place for a young girl to enter whereas now it is a wedding location and honeymoon destination and most elegant and well managed. Times change and progress happens!
Killin is the town at the west end of the loch and the famous Falls of Dochart give the visitors much pleasure. There are one two small hotels here as well. After that we made our way home by way of the road through Strathyre and Callander and then home to Peeblesshire where we live.
The colours of autumn in Dawyck the Arboretum at Stobo which belongs to The Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh are well worth a visit and at this time of the year the colours of the Acers are truly stunning. There is moreover a first class little restaurant serving home made good food.
Scotland welcomes visitors throughout the year but I generally recommend that people come between late April and the end of October. It can become very cold over Christmas and New Year though the City of Edinburgh hosts a world famous Christmas Festival with ice rink, fireworks, street parties and Christmas Market. Haste ye Back!