Perthshire welcomes you to the centre of Scotland. Nicknamed “Big County”, Perthshire is not only large geographically, but it’s also big on attractions, lochs, glens, and mountains, too. No eager explorer can come away from Perthshire feeling disappointed. The biggest challenge isn’t finding something to do. It’s squeezing it all in. There are so many incredible things to do in Perthshire!
I’m going to take you on a journey through Perthshire to discover some of the many highlights on offer.
- Perthshire Scotland
- 1. Explore Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Kinross.
- 2. Visit Perth
- 3. Go white water rafting on the River Tay in Aberfeldy.
- 4. Explore the trails in Tay Forest Park
- 5. See the Queen’s View over Loch Tummel
- 6. Enjoy a wee dram at Blair Athol Distillery
- 7. Explore the waymarked route to Glen Tilt viewpoint
- 9. Bag a Munro by climbing Schiehallion
- 10. Visit Blair Castle
- 11. Visit Blair Atholl Watermill
- 12. Discover the beauty of The Hermitage
1. Explore Loch Leven National Nature Reserve in Kinross.
Loch Leven is one of the most famous lochs in Perthshire. The RSPB Loch Leven is at the southwestern end of the loch, just outside of Kinross. Their visitor centre helps you learn more about the loch and its wildlife. You can browse the shop for souvenirs and be tempted by goodies in the café.
One of the best ways to see Loch Leven is to explore the Heritage Trail. You can access it via numerous points. Parking is available around the loch. There is no need to walk the entire 21km route. It’s possible to walk a portion of it as an ‘out and back’ route instead.
2. Visit Perth
The city of Perth is a major landmark for those traveling from the south to visit Perthshire. It’s worth taking a detour to spend the day here though as there are so many things to do in Perth.
It’s also ideal for castle lovers. Huntingtower Castle dates to the 15th century. It offers two towers to explore and once played host to Mary Queen of Scots.
Another must-see castle is the Black Watch Castle and Museum. Discover the history of Balhousie Castle inside the museum and learn about the famous Black Watch regiment. The Castle Café provides the ideal spot for lunch, with lots of local ingredients making it onto the menu.
Meanwhile, Branklyn Garden proves that you can escape from city life without leaving Perth. Dating to the 1920s and situated on a hillside, this garden is famous for its plant diversity.
If you fancy some shopping, Perth delivers. St John’s Shopping Centre has all the shops you’d expect to see. There are many individual stores surrounding the centre too. They are all within easy walking distance of the River Tay, which flows through the city.
3. Go white water rafting on the River Tay in Aberfeldy.
Are you brave enough to ride rapids with names like The Washing Machine? White water rafting is ideal for thrill seekers. The River Tay is the best place in Perthshire to try your hand at staying in the raft along six miles of rushing waters.
You won’t need to worry about trying to take photos of the experience either. Professional pics are taken along the way, so you can focus on trying to stay out of the water.
It’s a superb way to spend the afternoon. If you’ve worked up an appetite, you can head for The Paper Boat café on Loch Tay. Great food and drink and superb views are guaranteed. Alternatively, try the Ferryman’s Inn for an artisan pizza. You’ll certainly be hungry for it.
4. Explore the trails in Tay Forest Park
You can easily reach the park from the A9 in either direction. This is known as Big Tree Country, and there are certainly plenty of those in the park.
There are several ways to access the park. Each car park provides access to one or more walks. My favourite was the Pine Cone Point Trail via the Craigvinean car park.
The walk is only around 2¾ miles and moderate in nature, with only a few short and steep sections. However, the payoff is spectacular. The A9 is a tiny string winding its way along below the viewpoint once you get there.
You can see the River Tay too, along with acres of forest. Follow the red waymarkers from the car park to explore the out-and-back trail.
You can also explore the forest from:
- Drummond Hill
Be aware that some walks are more strenuous than others. You can pick up a trail leaflet from most car parks. Alternatively, download one onto your phone before you visit. Make sure you can access it offline too. All walks are clearly marked.
5. See the Queen’s View over Loch Tummel
Can there be a better view of Loch Tummel than this? I’ve yet to find one.
The Queen in question is Queen Victoria. She visited in 1866 and the viewpoint is thought to have been named in her honour following her trip.
I’d recommend a detour to the Queen’s View Visitor Centre in Allean, Pitlochry after a day out in Tay Forest Park. It’s only a short walk from the car park to the viewpoint. Visit the café for that cake and tea you’re yearning for after your local hike.
Don’t forget your camera either. I took a good 40 photos when I visited. It’s a great spot to perfect your panoramic skills.
6. Enjoy a wee dram at Blair Athol Distillery
Visit Perthshire and not visit a distillery? How could you?
There are many superb ones to visit, including Edradour, Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery, and Aberargie. However, Blair Athol Distillery is among the oldest.
Perfect for a Perthshire stop-off on the way to the Highlands, you’ll find the distillery in Pitlochry. Pre-booking a tour is highly recommended. Some tours offer tasting experiences at the end.
You can also visit the on-site shop. Can you resist a bottle of their 12-year-old Blair Athol whisky to take away with you?
7. Explore the waymarked route to Glen Tilt viewpoint
Perthshire is dotted with mountains for the fittest among us. The most famous is likely Schiehallion. We’ll tackle that next on our list.
You can take in some stunning viewpoints on much shorter and less challenging walks too, though. Glen Tilt is one of many glens in Perthshire. It meets Blair Atholl at its southern end. This makes it easy to find and explore.
There is a car park at the Old Bridge of Tilt and find the scenic route to the viewpoint is waymarked from there as well. You’ll also enjoy great views of Glen Tilt along the way ,too. Explore birch woods, bridges, and a chance to visit Fender Falls.
9. Bag a Munro by climbing Schiehallion
The Scottish Mountaineering Club lists 282 “Munros”—or mountains over 3,0000 feet in Scotland—and now is your chance to bag one. The Gaelic name of Schiehallion translates to “Fairy Hill” of the Caledonians. Thousands of walkers tackle Schiehallion and reach the summit every year.
There is a clear route up from the Braes of Foss car park. Directions are available online via Google Maps. This is a popular mountain, ideal for a first Munro. Don’t take it lightly though; pack warm clothing even in summer and take plenty of food and drink.
Always follow the zigzag path. Don’t be tempted to take steeper shortcuts. It erodes the hillside and can be more dangerous. And be sure to let someone know where you are going.
Bonus: Your car park ticket can also be used on the same day at the Queen’s View car park.
10. Visit Blair Castle
Blair Castle proudly sits in the heart of the Perthshire countryside. The castle is in Blair Atholl, which sits in the area just north of where the Rivers Garry and Tilt meet.
Generations of drama involving the Atholl family can be discovered within its walls. There are 30 rooms to discover in the castle. Luxurious furnishings, historical paintings, and ornaments provide insight into the lives of those who once lived there.
The castle’s gardens and grounds can also be visited. One of the best ways to take in all the highlights is to follow the Sculpture Trail. A leaflet produced for this purpose suggests you should allocate around 40 minutes to explore.
Among the highlights are sculptures including Gates of Heaven, A Standing Stone, and The Apple House.
11. Visit Blair Atholl Watermill
The watermill has been hard at work since the 1590s. And it’s still in action today. You can sample some of the many baked goods made from the flour in the shop. Alternatively, stop off in the tea room, although it’s challenging trying to make up your mind what to eat!
12. Discover the beauty of The Hermitage
This attraction couldn’t be left off our list. I’d rank the walk at The Hermitage as one of my top five favourites from my travels in Scotland (all of Scotland, not just in Perthshire).
The Hermitage car park is right next to the Craigvinean car park I mentioned earlier. If you’re feeling fit, arrive early and you can explore one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
If you can visit a day or two after some heavy rain, you’ll see the Black Linn Falls roaring across the rocks. Follow the main trail from the car park and you’ll soon spot Ossian’s Hall. This is a folly offering a spectacular view of the waterfall.
You can tackle a circular route from here that takes in a river, woodlands, and open countryside. Be careful around the river though; my better half ended up falling in while going in search of the perfect photo.
This is a guest post by Graham Grieve, a Scottish blogger who covers his home country over at his blog My Voyage Scotland. Graham has 27+ years of experience traveling Scotland. Since Perthshire is a 1-hour drive from Graham’s home city in Glasgow, he has spent many weekends exploring the Perthshire countryside.
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