Walks in Perthshire at any time of the year can be spectacular if you find the right spot.
Each season changes the landscape dramatically. Autumn brings crunchy leaves underfoot and a palette of burnt oranges and chestnut browns. In a region so abundant in stunning forests and woodland you can imagine the spectacular colours the season brings. and people flock to the area to witness it. Summer brings an array of colourful flowers and luscious greenery and villages hang colourful bunting and hold fayres. Winter caps the surrounding mountains with a layer of white and the gateway to the Highlands fills with fans of the snow who are heading north into the mountains. When spring arrives the fields, forests, villages and hills shake off their winter coats and step into the sun with blinking eyes. Spring flowers such as daffodils, tulips and bluebells tentatively emerge and grand houses and castles open open their doors ready for visitors.
Perthshire is easily one of my favourite areas of Scotland simply because of its sheer beauty. There are over 2000 square miles of pretty villages, lush green fields, forests, waterfalls, rivers, castles and forts.
Having spent some time in the area over the last few weeks I’ve discovered some fantastic walks and hikes, and what better time of the year to get out and stretch those winter-weary legs. Walks in Perthshire range from a little stroll through a forest canopy of birch, oak and ash trees to a strenuous hike up a Munro for panoramic views of “Big Tree Country” Perthshire is perfect for venturing outdoors and exploring not only Scotland’s awe-inspiring countryside but also areas made famous throughout history by characters, both real and fictional, such as Robert Burns, Macbeth and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The city of Perth itself was once the capital of Scotland and inspired Sir Walter Scott to pen “The Fair Maid of Perth”. Nearby is the village of Scone, the ancient capital of Scotland, where, for centuries, Scottish kings were crowned. You can read more about the history of Perthshire if you click below
“The fairest portion of the Northern Kingdom”
–Sir Walter Scott
Kinnoul Hill Woodland Park (3/4 - 2 1/2 miles
A picturesque walk though this park offers panoramic views over Scotland’s newest city of Perth, across to Ben Ledi in the west and the Carse of Gowrie in the east. A short loop (3/4 mile) takes you through an avenue of beech and pine and is a gentle relaxed walk. For those wanting to push themselves further a more strenuous 2 1/2 mile walk involves some steep slopes but is worth it for the views. In the park you can find a part of the coronation road, which the Scottish Kings used after being crowned at Scone Palace to travel to Falkland Palace in Fife
Moncreiffe Hill Wood (14km of trails)
Nearby is another pretty woods with a fantastic range of trails. You can enter from either the north or south car park (although the north is a lot less strenuous). If you follow the green and white waymarked route you will find the sculpure trail and also come pretty close to two hill forts, one named after the hill which sits at the lower rim of the hill and another named Moredun curled the summit (allow 90 minutes to complete this trail). Look out for Douglas Fir, ash and sycamore trails and higher up you can also find Scots Pine. Walks in Perthshire guarantee some of the countries most fascinating trees, it's not called "big tree country' for nothing.
Birnum Path (3 miles)
This walk heads along the banks of the River Tay, over Dunkeld Bridge and through the village itself. An easy, relatively flat stroll it’s best known for the famous Birnam Oak. Thought to be the last surviving tree from the Birnam Wood named in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, It’s said Macbeth was told, as he was crowned at Scone Palace, that he would remain King until Birnam Wood reached Dunsinane Hill.
Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until
Great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill
Shall come against him
A little further on is a cream coloured house called Eastwood where a letter penned in 1893 later became A Tale of Beatrix Potter! The tales of Jeremy Fisher and Mrs Tiggy Winkle are also thought to have been written here, with the author basing their characters on the people she encountered in the area.
The Hermitage (just a sort stroll)
This amazing little area of Perthshire was originally designed as a pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl. The path leads from the National Trust for Scotland Car Park (£2 charge, free for members) and gentle ambles along the banks of the River Braan where you will be surrounding by towering Douglas firs (some of the tallest in Britain). Following the path will lead you to a bridge with a small tunnel underneath. Here you will see your first glimpse of the thunderous Black Linn Falls. Make sure you walk onto the bridge and also go through the tunnel (be careful here as it's often slippery) to get the best views. If you carry on up the path you will come to Ossian's Hall, a small circular building, built in 1757. This unique building has two chambers filled with glass mirrors and paintings and a small terrace which overlooks the falls and is an excellent vantage point to witness the roaring tumbling falls, the noise can be quite deafening! Salmon can be seen sometimes leaping out of the water too so keep your eyes peeled for those. Find out more about the Hermitage here
Birks of Aberfeldy (2 1/2 miles)
This walk begins and ends in the upper part of Birks car park. Although short, the first half, as you make your way to the top of the falls, is steep and rough underfoot. It’s manageable though and extremely popular with dog walkers and families. Once you reach the falls you can see for miles from the footbridge and the second mile is all downhill.
Robert Burns is said to have sat here on a seat made naturally from the rock (look out for the sign after the smaller waterfall) It is this atmospheric spot, with the thundering noise of the falling water and the tall trees surrounding you like a cosy blanket, keeping you in what seems like a world of your own, that he penned one of his most famous songs, The Birks of Aberfeldy:
Now simmer blinks on flowery braes,
And o’er the crystal streamlets plays;
Come let us spend the lightsome days,
In the Birks of Aberfeldy.
Acharn to Aberfeldy (10 miles)
If you want to extend this walk and really stretch those legs you can begin in the 18th century Acharn Village. Walk through heathery moorland, a pine wood and two stunning woodland gorges. The village sits on the banks of the River Tay then travels past the Falls of Acharn, the pinewood at Kenmore Hill then along the Queen's Drive, named after Queen Victoria who visited the area in the 1800's. The route then joins with up with the Birks of Aberfeldy route above.
The Falls of Bruar (1 1/2 miles)
It seems Rabbie Burns was a fan of steep climbs and waterfalls as this walk is another short but steep affair. He visited in 1787 and after seeing the bare surroundings he petitioned the 4th Duke of Atholl to plant trees.
The Humble Petition of Briar Water
Would then my noble master please
To grant my highest wished,
He’ll shade my banks wi’ tow’ring trees,
And bonie spreading bushes.
Delighted doubly then, my lord,
You’ll wander on my banks,
And listen mony a grateful bird
Return you tuneful thanks.
From behind the House of Bruar take the path to the left and make your way under the railway and up the steep climb, taking in the stunning views from the stone bridges and picnic area. It’s possible to continue further, too, if you’re feeling up to it – the path continues through the forest up to the high bridge.
Also worth exploring
The Atholl Trails
Blair Atholl is a lovely little town, centred around the Blair Castle Estate which has been home to 19 generations of Stewarts and Murray's. The gardens here are beautiful and great to explore. There is a 9 acre Georgian walled garden with a Chinese bridge and an orchard of over 100 fruit trees, Diana's Grove, a wooded area with some of Perthshire's famous Douglas firs, a Sculpture Trail and The Whim, a whimsical gothic folly.
If you are staying in the area you can explore the Atholl Trails, a selection of walks, differing in lengths and difficulties including a 3 mile walk to the Tulach Viewpoint overlooking the Atholl Hills, a 2 mile Salmon Trail running alongside the River Garry and a 2 1/2 mile walk through the heather to Struan Point where it's possible to spot red deer and grouse.
The Cateran Trail (64 miles)
In the heart of Perthshire this trail lets long distance walkers experience many different aspects of the Scottish landscape, including areas relatively unexplored, while walking in footsteps of the caterans.
The caterans were feared cattle thieves who made their living in lawless regions of the Highlands until the 17th century, particularly favouring the land in Glenshee and Glen Isla where they would sneak into the cattle sheds and fields in the dark of night and steal the cattle before the owners awoke.
This circular route can be started anywhere along the route but most walkers begin in Blairgowrie. Well way marked with red hearts and never far from the nearest village this trail takes you through forests, moors and farmlands.
Rob Roy Way (77/94 miles)
Beginning in Drymen on the West Highland Way, past Aberfoyle, Callander, Killin and Aberfeldy to the burgh of Pitlochry, this walk can be completed in 7 days.
You can get some exercise while walking in the steps of Scotland’s most notorious outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor. See the lands where he lived, fought and travelled. See Ben Lawers and Ben Ledi as well as pass the beautiful Lochs of Venachar, Lubnaig and Tay.
“Where is the coward that would not dare,
to fight for such a land as Scotland?”
Sir Walter Scott
If you are in Scotland and fancy stretching your legs, try Perthshire, you won't be disappointed. You can find out more about the area here Highland Perthshire