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Perthshire’s location on the Highland Boundary Fault makes it a land of genuine scenic drama, drawing those in the know to its craggy peaks, ancient woodlands and dark lochs.
They call it the Big County for a reason. Straddling both the Lowlands and the Highlands, Perthshire covers a vast central swathe of the Scottish map, its borders stretching from Rannoch Moor in the west to River Isla in the east, and from the Pass of Drumochter in the north to the fringes of the Trossachs in the south. If you’re looking for scenic diversity, in other words, you’re in the right place. Sir Walter Scott described it as “the fairest spot in the northern kingdom”, and he knew a decent view when he saw one.
But it has much more than good looks to shout about. Home to the elegant city of Perth itself – once the seat of the Scottish parliament, and with magnificent Scone Palace on its outskirts – the region also has enjoyable towns such as Aberfeldy, Pitlochry and Crieff within its borders. The little county of Kinross, meanwhile, on the banks of lovely Loch Leven, is also bundled up into the area’s overall offering, and in the rolling expanse of the Perthshire outdoors you’ll find everything from millennia-old trees and soaring Munros to canyoning adventures and luxury country hotels.
Perhaps more than anything, Perthshire puts to bed the notion that you need to venture deep into the Highlands for a true blast of epic Scottish scenery. This is a region that serves up everything from royal history to red stags, against a backdrop that’s as ruggedly handsome as they come.
Perthshire’s location on the Highland Boundary Fault makes it a land of genuine scenic drama, drawing those in the know to its craggy peaks, ancient woodlands and dark lochs. Adrenaline thrills are easy to find, whether you’re biking, hiking, rafting or even bungee jumping, but this is also a region stuffed with art, culture, food and history – big-name attractions such as Scone Palace, Blair Castle and the Fortingall Yew are just the start.
By the time the Romans reached what is now Perthshire in the 1st century AD – kicking off a relatively brief period of occupation – the region had already witnessed all manner of prehistoric settlements. When the Romans withdrew, the area became a Pictish realm, before being attacked by Vikings then later, in the 9th century, absorbed into the kingdom of the Scots. If this all reads like a who’s-who of various historical powerbrokers, then the theme continues though the Middle Ages. Macbeth was defeated in a battle at Dunsinane Hill by Siward, Earl of Northumbria, in 1054, which led to the ascension of Malcolm III to the throne, and the end of local Celtic rule.
The royal burgh of Perth became the nominal Scottish capital from the early 12th century until the middle of the 15th, becoming rich through its craftspeople and traders, and witnessing periods of English rule. The town subsequently saw various religious conflicts, the coronation of Charles II, and three periods of being occupied by Jacobite supporters, before the arrival of industry in the late 18th century heralded a more settled period for both Perth and the surrounding region.
Perthshire has a variety of transport options, including multiple bus services around specific areas of the region. The city of Perth tends to be the base for local transportation, including train services to Scotland and England via the East Coast main line. Perthshire has excellent roads, even in rural areas, as well as dedicated cycling trails and paths.
Getting to Perthshire
Dundee Airport is 25 minutes from Perth, with Glasgow and Edinburgh International airports just over an hour’s drive away. The region is accessible by sleeper train from London or a variety of local train services. There are three major motorways connecting Scotland’s cities to the area, including the Perthshire Tourist Route, a scenic motorway and a dual carriageway drive.
When to go
Autumn is Perthshire’s prime month for visiting. Its bounty of natural activities is heightened by the changing colours of the autumn (September – November) and the weather remains relatively mild. Gorgeous views await at this time of year and it’s often less crowded than in the popular holiday months.
Where to stay in Perthshire
The major city of Perth has the widest variety of accommodation options, including hotels and self-catering choices. But, many of the villages and towns in Perthshire are hugely popular with visitors for their natural beauty, local activities and Highland charm. Head for Aberfeldy, Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Creiff.
Eating & drinking in Perthshire
Perthshire has long been nurturing artisanal food and drink. Perth was even named Scotland’s first Food Town in 2018. Alongside a variety of locally made wines and whiskies, the region produces a lot of fresh beef, venison, game and lamb, as well as fresh fruit like raspberries and strawberries during the summer months.
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