Perthshire offers the perfect destination when you just want a couple of care-free days away, without any fuss or the difficulty of finding your passport. Just chuck an overnight bag into the boot of the car and head down the A90. Take a meandering tour and hit all the highlights, whether it’s sports, shopping or scenery, over a weekend.
Head off at the A94 Glamis junction and start your trip with breakfast in Blairgowrie. The Cateran café offer great all day breakfasts and you can then have a quick wander down the Cateran Trail. This is a 64 mile circular walking trail, so don’t get carried away.
Next stop is Dunkeld, a pretty cathedral town set in some splendid scenery. Take a walk to the Hermitage, Ossian’s Hall or the Tay Forest Park – home to some of Perthshire’s most voracious midges – or just potter around the centre.
Lunch means Pitlochry. The area abounds in blood-soaked history, with Blair Atholl Castle, the Pass of Killiecrankie and the barren expanse of Rannoch Moor. The energetic might fancy a stroll up the lower reaches of Schiehallion, though a visit to Eradour or Blair Atholl Distillery or the clothing department and the excellent food hall at The House of Bruar may prove more immediately rewarding. Summer visitors should check out the programme at Pitlochry Festival Theatre. Don’t miss the Highland Chocolatier at Grandtully on the route to Aberfeldy.
Aberfeldy is worth a stop, as it offers and abundance of delightful little galleries and craft shops. Artisanand on Bank Street always has some interesting pieces and The Watermill is charming.
If you’re beginning to think about dinner, then Crieff offers something to suit every taste. Yann’s and Barley Bree both come highly recommended. Crieff Hydro and Cromlix are both nearby, or there are lots of boutique B&Bs around.
If you’re planning well ahead, treat yourself to an overnight stay at Gleneagles and feast on what’s regarded as one of the best breakfasts in Scotland. Golf also needs to be booked in advance, but this is one of the finest courses in Scotland. Non-golfers may prefer to spend a few hours in the amazing spa facilities.
Suitably refreshed and replenished, have a wander through Crieff, popping into Lagom Felt Studio to admire the crafts, or pick up some traditional sweets for the journey at Gordon & Durward, home of soor plooms and retro sugar mice. If you’re feeling festive, Crieff also has a Christmas Shop.
Head for Perth for the day. Scone Palace often has interesting events and Branklyn Gardens is great for keen gardeners or those in search of some contemplative space. If you need to stretch your legs, or walk off all the treats you bought in Crieff, then Kinnoul Hill offers a rewarding panorama at the top. The racecourse can be fun while there’s a good selection of specialist shops if you could use some retail therapy. The Fergusson Gallery, Frames and the Jardine Gallery are all worth a visit, while the Glenalmond Tweed Company has a great range of goods made from Harris Tweed. A visit to the Black Watch Castle and Museum at Balhousie Castle is a must. The castle brings this colourful Highland regiment’s history to life, through artefacts, personal stories and interactive displays.
There’s a gift shop and the café does light lunches and a tasty afternoon tea. The grounds are worth a wander too.
Time for dinner before the drive home. Try Chatni Fine Indian Dining on the High Street. It’s worth the drive by itself and you’ll return home happy and contented.