Perth Visitor Centre Re-opening

Perth Visitor Centre Re-opening

Perth Visitor Centre To Re-Open

In early April, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) will re-open the Fair Maid’s House Visitor Centre for the season.

The geographic inspiration begins on Friday 5th April between 13:00 and 15:00 when there will be a special exhibition on show, Firsts and Nearly Firsts.

On display will be some of the Society’s most prized assets – items such as a telegram from Robert Peary, the first man to reach the North Pole; a special map from the First World War signed by Commander-in-Chief, Earl Haig; and a priceless signed cover of The Times special supplement for September 1953, showing photos of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, the first summiteers of Mount Everest.

But that’s not all, from Saturday 6th April there will be the opportunity to view a special anniversary exhibition created by the RSGS telling the best stories from the last decade of the Society’s history.

Such anecdotes include the discovery of a skeleton in the Fair Maid’s House, the inadvertent use of a priceless whiskey in a family Christmas cake, and insights from some of the most intriguing and accomplished voyagers, visionaries, missionaries and mavericks to have ever walked Planet Earth.

Whilst at the Fair Maid’s House, visitors will also have the chance to unwind in the Society’s historic Explorers’ Library and view ephemera from the likes of David Livingstone, Sir Ernest Shackleton, Robert Falcon Scott, Neil Armstrong and Karen Darke; in the multi-media Earth Room, there will be hands-on opportunities to learn about geo-politics and the Earth’s tectonic forces; and in the map room, there will be time to get lost in a captivating collection of cartographic treats! 

Commenting on the upcoming season, Mike Robinson said:

“The RSGS is a repository of some the best stories from the past 135 years. I hope that those who visit our headquarters in Perth – whether young or old – will be amazed by the greats and game-changers who have been associated with our small charity, and inspired to discover, learn and care more about the world around them.

“Everyone is welcome, so please come along!”

Only in Whispers

Only in Whispers

Only in Whispers: Perth’s Supernatural Exhibition

This month I thought that I would go and check out the “Only in Whispers” exhibition at the Perth Museum and Art Gallery.  This display focuses on the Myths and Legends of Perthshire which I am sure you know by now I am very interested in.

This display in the museum is very different from your typical museum experience, where you look at an exhibit enclosed in a glass cabinet.  For as you enter the display, you transported back in time into a life-size mock-up of an impression of the interior of Ballechin House. This building once stood between Logierait and Grandtully.  Ballechin House was the scene of a famous haunting in the late 1800s. There is plenty to do in this mock house, from answering phones and listening to whispered conversations on the line or looking through keyholes into other rooms, trying doors to see what lies at the other side and opening a cabinet and reading letters about the hauntings. There is also a collection of weird and macabre objects and information and models relating to the best-known myths and legends of Perthshire.  The pupils of Fairview School helped by animator Jim Stirk put together a short film to go with the exhibition which is well worth a look.


This is a fantastic display and one that the kids would love, with lots to see and explore.  At £5.00 adults and £3.00 with a group of four costing £15, it is reasonably priced for this day and age, there is plenty of other exciting things to see in the museum for free. On the 11th and 12th of April, there are torchlight tours in the museum to coincide with the exhibition where yours truly will be doing some storytelling in the museum vaults.  This is a unique chance to see some of the artefacts in the basement that are not usually on display. All the information on tickets for the exhibition and torchlight tours can be found here.

The Haunting of Ballechin House


The display is focused on the haunting of Ballechin House and here is the story of the strange events that captivated late Victorian Britain.  The origins of the activity reported to originate from Ballechin House was centred on a man called Robert Steuart who had made his fortune while working for the East India Company. Robert moved to the house in 1850, he was a bit strange and seemed to shun the company of his peers preferring his many dogs, some fourteen in all.  He was involved in a scandalous affair with one of his maids, who was later to die in one of the rooms in the house after a short illness. Robert was very interested in the afterlife and particularly on reincarnation, he always stated that when he died, he would return in the spirit of a dog. Robert did die in 1876 and the house passed to his nephew John Steuart, hearing about his uncles’ desire to return from the grave in the form of a dog John had the animals shot.


Strange things started to happen in the house with reports of bangs, raps and sightings of a spectral dog were reported.  In 1897 an investigation into the ghostly goings-on was carried out by John Crichton Stuart the Marquess of Bute he was helped by Ada Goodrich Freer from the Society for Psychical Research.  Freer kept a diary during her investigation, she recorded sounds off “knockings, crashes, bangs, groans and thuds. She stated that were heard at all hours of the day and night. Freer declared that others in the house heard voices and footsteps.  One lady was said to have been woken during the night by the feeling that her bed was shaking, and a maid had her clothing pulled by unseen hands.


Mrs Freer stated that she saw the ghostly figure of an old woman, this ghost was also seen by a maid, but in the second instance, the old woman had no legs.  Phantom dogs were also observed in and around the house and a ghostly nun called Ishbel was also spotted along with a woman dressed in grey. The Scotsman Newspaper on the 5th of July 1899 reporting on the incidents a few years later stated that during the hauntings the house was blessed by a Bishop and Priest in an attempt to stop this paranormal activity.  


When the findings of the alleged hauntings were published, the results were widely ridiculed. The Scotsman Newspaper mentioned above was extremely sceptical as to the authenticity of the ghostly goings-on. Ada Goodrich Freer and her research into Ballechin House was discredited and her peers in the Society for Psychical Research turned on her.

The house was demolished after being uninhabited for many years and after being severely damaged in a fire.


So was there ever any ghostly activity at Ballechin House, well it seems that the house did have a reputation of being haunted before the investigation in 1897.  Perhaps Freer did greatly exaggerate the amount of activity in the house. But it seems the house did have a history of ghostly activity long before the alleged hauntings was documented, it remains an intriguing story.

Written by Gary Knight

Can’t Get Enough of Gary’s Stories?


If you enjoyed this article, why not take a look at Garys book ‘No Fair City’?

Battles, regicides, executions, conspiracies, murders, floods, fires, crimes, punishments, and mayhem No Fair City by Gary Knight has them all. Delve into the darker side of historical Perth, where witches, smugglers, grave robbers, murderers, and thieves conduct their ghastly business. Learn how the guilty (and innocent) were tried, punished, and executed. Read how, in a world before health and safety, plague, fire, the merciless River Tay, and the Perth s lade, railways and roads, took their daily toll of townsfolk and visitors.

You can find it here.

Or if you want to read similar stories from across Scotland, take a look in his new Scottish History Fanzine ‘For the Lion’ available at



Perth Festival of Yarn 2019

Perth Festival of Yarn 2019

The Yarn Returns: Perth Festival of Yarn is back.

7 and 8 September 2019, Dewars Centre, Perth

Perth Festival of Yarn is Scotland’s Contemporary Fibre Festival; bringing boutique independent businesses, sheep-farmers and those that practice the fibre arts together to celebrate the best in textile artistry through a large marketplace, with classes and lectures to inspire.  Perth was shortlisted by the public in the Best Knitting Show/Event category in the 2018 British Knitting and Crochet Awards and welcomed festival-goers from 19 different countries in the same year.

Festival Director, Eva Christie, and her team are excited to deliver a Vendors’ Gallery of 80 independent UK, EU and (for the first time US) businesses including Di Gilpin, The Border Mill, Truly Hooked, Lady Dye Yarns and El Robledal de la Santa Mohair.  Classes over the weekend will be delivered by internationally respected tutors/designers including Françoise Danoy, André de Castro and Steve Malcolm (Mr Hugzzz); while the keynote lecture will be delivered by Jeanette Sloan.

Now in it’s fourth year, Perth Festival of Yarn is known within the international textile crafting communities for it’s friendliness and accessibility.  Festival-goers will have the opportunity to meet their favourite UK podcasters and bloggers in The Knitter Podcast Lounge. The Lounge area leads onto a spacious cafe and bar area which is the perfect place to chat, craft and flash newly acquired materials.

Fringe events at Perth Festival of Yarn this year include a Perthshire Gin Flight Friday and a Saturday Night Gala Dinner with Fashion Show (sponsored by Di Gilpin).

The Perth Festival of Yarn 2019 social media thunderclap begins at 10am GMT on 30 March and all vendors, tutors, lecturers, and social events will be announced at this time on their website.  Advance ticket sales from 7pm BST on 27 April.

Easter Holiday family fun in Perthshire

Easter Holiday family fun in Perthshire

Easter in Perthshire

1) Live Active Easter Holiday Programme

Description:  Award-winning school holiday camps and sports sessions will keep your super heroes fighting fit, super-charged and extra happy through the Easter holidays! Camps available in Perth, Kinross, Strathearn, Highland and Blairgowrie.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 1 mile

2) Willowgate Activity Centre

Description: School holidays? No, problem why not sign your children up for a day of fun and adventure at Willowgate? Drop them off at 9am where they will spend the whole day doing a mixture of land and water based activities. 

Distance from Perth City Centre: 3 miles

3) Wee Adventures – Easter Activity Days

Description: Fill the Easter Holidays with outdoor adventures! From climbing crags and trees to developing abseiling skills, learning to cook or canoeing out to islands under a Jolly Roger. No two days are ever the same at Wee Adventures.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 31 miles

4) Nae Limits – Wee Limits Easter Holidays

Description:  Wee Limits is back for the Easter Holidays with fun filled days of outdoor adventure running from 09:30 – 15:30. Adventures include Rafting,Hiking, Shelter Building, Fire Lighting, Tree Climbing, Zip Lines and much more!

Distance from Perth City Centre: 22 miles

5) RSPB Loch Leven – Easter Curlew Trail

Description: The Curlews need your help! Follow the Easter themed trail around the beautiful woodlands to find some wildlife, solve the puzzle and win a tasty treat.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 22 miles

6) For Arts Sake Easter Kids Club

Description: Drop the children off for 2 hours of painting fun at 10.30-12.30. Choose which date and venue suits you. Paint either the Unicorn Plate or Llama Plate – your choice

Distance from Perth City Centre: 2 miles

7) Ollie Paisley Tennis – Easter Camp 

Description: Easter is fast approaching and spots for Ollie Paisley Tennis are going quick! Oliva, a local LTA accredited coach, will be hosting tennis camps in Kinnoull, Luncarty and Darnhall throughout April.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 1 mile

8) Perth Collage UHI Easter Activity Camp

Description: Their coaches deliver a range of fun multi-sport activities – including: basketball, football, dodgeball, rounders and indoor climbing.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 1 mile

Over to you!

Now you know about some of our favourite Easter camps, it’s now over to you to book your perfect camp! In case you aren’t familiar with Perthshire, here’s a map to help you find all the camps mentioned above.

St John’s Shopping Centre Win Top Environmental Award

St John’s Shopping Centre Win Top Environmental Award

St John’s Shopping Centre Win Top Environmental Award

St John’s Shopping Centre has won a Scottish Green Apple Environment Award in the international campaign to find the greenest companies, councils and communities.

The shopping centre have won the award for their Greenspace project that was completed in partnership with children from Goodlyburn Primary School in 2018, where the children planned, designed and created an urban garden in the heart of Perth City Centre with the aim of creating space for biodiversity to thrive.

They competed against more than 500 other nominations in the Green Apple Awards for Environmental Best Practice, and they will be presented with their trophy and certificate at a glittering presentation ceremony on March 18, 2019.

Derek Martin, Marketing Manager at St John’s Shopping Centre said: “The whole team at St John’s Shopping Centre and the children of P1-3G at Goodlyburn Primary School were thrilled to learn that the project has been recognised by the industry leaders who judged our application.

“We are delighted to have won a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice. Having also been finalists at the Scottish Environmental Business Awards earlier this year It’s great to see that our conscious effort to reduce our impact on the environment has been recognised yet again.”

As a result of this Green Apple Award success, they have been invited to have their winning paper published in The Green Book, the leading international work of reference on environmental best practice, so that others around the world can follow their example and learn from their achievement.

They could also progress to represent their country in the Green World Awards 2020 and have 100 trees planted in their name as part of the United Nations Billion Trees initiative.

The Green Apple Awards began in 1994 and have become established as the country’s major recognition for environmental endeavour among companies, councils, communities and countries.

The awards are organised by The Green Organisation – an international, independent, non-political, non-profit environment group dedicated to recognising, rewarding and promoting environmental best practice around the world. The Green Apple Awards are supported by the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management and other independent bodies.

St William of Perth

St William of Perth

St William of Perth

There can not be many cities in the country that has had one of its former inhabitants canonised and created a Saint.  The City of Perth has its own saint and here is his story.

There was a man called William who lived in Perth around the later years of the 1100s. He was a baker and was deeply religious, going to church every Sunday without fail. William was a kindly and considerate man who was liked and respected by the population of the Fair City.  When he had finished baking the days bread, he carefully took out one loaf from every ten and put it aside to give to the poor of the town.

Early one morning he was walking to his bakery as he passed St John’s Church he saw a wicker basket lying in the doorway.  Upon inspection, he saw that the basket contained a sleeping baby. William gently picked up this basket and took it to the warmth of his bakery.

 As he worked, he thought about this baby, it was clearly abandoned, he then decided as he had no children and was financially secure he could bring this child up as if it were his own.  The child was a wee boy and William named it David, he gave it a stable, good life with much love and kindness, the child was called by the locals David the Foundling and as the years rolled by grew up into a healthy young man helping his father in the bakery.

In 1201,  William realised he wanted to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land as he prepared he asked his son to accompany him on this journey. Grudgingly, David agreed, he had friends and a good life in Perth and was not at all keen on leaving the city.

The two men set off travelling through Scotland and into England visiting the religious sites as they went.  William and David were just a little bit north of the town of Rochester when they fell out and had a terrible argument at the roadside.  David in a fit of rage, struck his father a violent blow on the head, the older man fell to the ground, David then drew a dagger and cut his father’s throat.  He then robbed his benefactor and fled the murder scene.

A short time later a local woman who had a reputation of being mad stumbled upon the body.  The woman was wearing a garland of Honeysuckle upon her head. She stood staring quietly at the corpse for some time and then she took the Honeysuckle from her head and placed it on the head of the dead man.  After leaving the flowers on the cadaver for a while, she took it and set it back upon her head. In an instant, her madness was cured. She walked down into the town of Rochester, locals who knew this woman realised that her illness had left her and summoned the priests from Rochester Cathedral.  She told her story and took the holy men to the murder scene. William was taken back to the Cathedral and laid out on public display.

News of this murder and the mad woman being miraculously cured spread far and wide, folk with ailments flocked to the cathedral and touched the corpse.  Many were healed upon touching the body of William. William was buried within Rochester Cathedral, a chapel was built on the site of the murder. The sick and infirm flocked from all over the land to touch the grave and hopefully be healed.  The shrine of William became the second most popular holy shrine in England, second only to that of Thomas Becket at Canterbury.

William was canonised by Pope Alexander IV in 1256 and became St William of Perth, he is the patron saint of adopted children.  In 1883 a wall painting was found in Frindsbury Church near Rochester depicting William it was found to have been painted between 1256 and 1266.  He is still remembered in the town of Rochester, with a street in Rochester called St William’s Way, there was a Hospital in the town called St William’s Hospital and St William of Perth Primary School all pay homage to this man from Perth.

It is a shame that this child of Perth and his story seems to be better known in the South of England than it is in his home city.  Perhaps on his feast day the 23rd of May you might spare a thought for St William of Perth.

Written by Gary Knight

Can’t Get Enough of Gary’s Stories?


If you enjoyed this article, why not take a look at Garys book ‘No Fair City’?

Battles, regicides, executions, conspiracies, murders, floods, fires, crimes, punishments, and mayhem No Fair City by Gary Knight has them all. Delve into the darker side of historical Perth, where witches, smugglers, grave robbers, murderers, and thieves conduct their ghastly business. Learn how the guilty (and innocent) were tried, punished, and executed. Read how, in a world before health and safety, plague, fire, the merciless River Tay, and the Perth s lade, railways and roads, took their daily toll of townsfolk and visitors.

You can find it here.







Picture Perfect Perthshire

Picture Perfect Perthshire

Picture Perfect Perthshire

It’s no secret Perthshire has some of the best viewpoints in Scotland. In fact, a quick search of Instagram returns over 140,000 photos tagged with #Perthshire.

From rolling hills and hidden lochs to idyllic towns and ancient castles and palaces – there’s enough natural beauty to keep any avid photographer content for weeks. And with so much to see and do on offer, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choice and miss out on some best views this country has to offer.
So this week, we have been working with amature photographers and Perthshire locals to help find the best viewpoints around the region.

Without any further ado, here’s a quick look at our favourite picture-perfect spots from around Perthshire!

1) Queens View, Pitlochry

Description: Queen’s view is one of the most popular in the region – and it’s not hard to see why. Overlooking the stunning Loch Tummel and Schiehallion, this viewpoint you don’t want to miss!

Distance from Perth City Centre:34 miles

Whilst your here, why not visit…

Highland Fling

The Pass of Killiecrankie is one of the most striking views in the whole country, so why not take it in from a different angle – by plunging down 40 metres below with a bungee cord attached to your feet!

Find out more

Atholl Palace

A historic four-star luxury hotel set in Highland Perthshire, Pitlochry, with spa, museum, award-winning gardens and break taking mountain and river views. Best of all, it’s just a 45-minute drive from Perth City Centre!

Find out more

Pitlochry Golf Course

With the 6-hole Lettoch Links course, a driving range and a fully-stocked pro-shop, it has everything you need for a fantastic day of golf in Highland Perthshire!

Find out more

2) Loch Turret

Description: Loch Turret Reservoir is one of the lesser-known lochs in Perthshire, however, it is certainly not to be overlooked as a great picture opportunity! This hidden gem is the perfect spot for a hill walk (or sledging!)

Distance from Perth City Centre: 23 miles

Whilst your here, why not visit…

The Famous Grouse Experience

Discover how the distillery’s single malt is blended to create one of the UK’s most popular blended whiskies.

Find out more.

The Crieff Hydro

Scotland’s leading Spa Hotel Resort has so much to do, with 60 in/outdoor activities and 5 quality eateries.

Find out more.

Innerpeffray Library

Discover Scotland’s oldest free, public
lending library: a museum where you can iterally touch the past.

Find out more.

3) Kinnoull Hill, Perth

Description: A list of Instagram-worthy spots around Perthshire would not be complete without mentioning Kinnoull Hill.  This viewpoint is only a short walk from Perth City Centre and offers magnificent views of the Tay Valley!

Distance from Perth City Centre: 2 miles

Whilst your here, why not visit…

Willowgate Activity Centre

A leading activites provider based just outside of Perth City Centre. Whether it’s in the water or on dry land, Willowgate has something for everyone!

Find out more.

A City Centre Eatery

Did you know that Perth was voted Scotland’s Food Town on the Year last year? Our city is bursting with independent coffeehouses and award-winning restaurants. Why not pop in and test a few of our eateries out?

Find out more

Scone Palace

Scone Palace is the true home of the Stone of Destiny and has been the seat of parliaments and the crowning place of the Kings of Scots, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce.

Find out more.

4) The Hermitage, Dunkeld

Description: The Hermitage is perhaps one of the most visited nature spots in Perthshire and for a good reason! There’s plenty of picture opportunities in this natural woodland.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 20 miles

Whilst your here, why not visit…

The Atholl Arms Hotel

There are few more imposing sights in the Scottish Highlands than the grandeur of the Atholl Arms Hotel in Dunkeld, at the northern end of this delightful highland village.

Find out more.

Birnam Arts

A delightful multi-purpose arts, conferencing and entertainment venue encompassing the fantastic Foyer CafePotter’s Junction Gift Shop and the Beatrix Potter Exhibition.

Find out more

Loch of the Lowes Visitor Centre

From early April to late August, the star attraction is a pair of breeding ospreys, which nest just 150 metres from our observation hide.

Find out more.

5) Loch Earn, St Fillans

Description: A beautiful a freshwater loch with an amazing backdrop of Ben Vorlich and the surrounding mountain range. Definitely worth a look!
The loch is home to a Watersports Centre that offer multiple watersports activities.

Distance from Perth City Centre: 32 miles

Whilst your here, why not visit…

Auchingarrich Wildlife Park

Whatever the weather you’ll find plenty to see and do, with activities for all ages indoors and out. The centre has over 50 different species of animal, each with its own particular charm.

Find out more.

Cultybraggan POW Camp

Cultybraggan Camp, near Comrie, Perthshire is the last remaining WWII Prisoner of War (POW) Camp in Scotland.

Find out more.

Comrie’s Earthquake House

Did you know Comrie’s is the earthquake capital of the UK? As a result, the ‘earthquake house’ was built in 1874 to monitor tremors in the ground. Pop along and take a look at this unique piece of history!

Find out more.

Over to you!

Now you know where the best viewpoints are, it’s now over to get snapping. In case you aren’t familiar with Perthshire, here’s a map to help you find all the viewpoints mentioned above.

Make sure to follow us on Instagram to find more amazing photo spots from around Perthshire!

A Wilder Scotland in Perth: RSGS Talk

A Wilder Scotland in Perth: RSGS Talk

It wasn’t long ago that wild forests stretched their fingers across much of Scotland. Beavers and cranes found sanctuary in extensive wetlands, salmon and trout filled Scotland’s rivers, and lynx, wolf and wild boar stalked woodland glades.

Today, Scotland has become a much more nature-depleted nation. All of our large carnivores have gone and across huge areas the intricate and balanced ecosystem that emerged from the last ice age has unravelled.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A bold vision for Scotland’s future is evolving; a vision that sees native woodland regenerating; a vision where damaged peatlands are restored, and rivers lined by alder and willow run freely; a vision that sees a wilder landscape driven by natural processes, supporting a much broader range of wildlife than exists today.

This new vision is being spearheaded by a group of photographers and filmmakers who have spent the last three years gathering images to make the case for a wilder Scotland. And one of these campaigners is Peter Cairns, a conservation photographer based in the Cairngorms.

Now, Peter is speaking in Perth and showcasing his stunning images. With spectacular mountaintops and ocean floors, and featuring iconic species such as beavers, ospreys and pine martens, Peter will pose an intriguing question: What should Scotland look like?

Commenting on the upcoming talk, Peter said:

“I’m delighted to be part of an inspiring line up of speakers all with fascinating stories to tell. From my home in the Cairngorms, I’m lucky to be able to look out onto forests of Scots pine, hills of granite and the rushing waters of the River Feshie. Spectacular a place though this is, there are pieces missing.”

“Today, although it’s easy to be seduced by the raw beauty of the Scottish landscape, it is sadly an ecological shadow of its former self. Our native woodland covers just 2% of its former range, many species that were once prolific now teeter on the edge, and our large carnivores are all gone. My presentations for the Royal Scottish Geographical Society will showcase this country’s undoubted beauty and drama, but against a backdrop of global biodiversity decline”

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive of the RSGS remarked:

“Scotland’s landscape is one of its most treasured assets, and this talk by Peter will demonstrate our country’s raw beauty in spectacular fashion. It is, however, a landscape under pressure and one that is not as untouched by humans as it may first appear. I hope this talk will inspire our audiences to think more closely about ‘wilderness’ in general and some of the possible mechanisms we might adopt to conserve, re-invigorate and improve our natural assets.”

Peter will be speaking in Perth on Tuesday 12th March at 7.30pm in The Salutation Hotel, 34 South Street, Perth, PH2 8PH.

Tickets to see Peter are available via Eventbrite or on the door. They are £10 for visitors, £8 for Tiso Outdoor Experience Cardholders, and FREE for RSGS Members, Students and U18s.

Stagecoach boosts Perthshire independent businesses by getting on board with Mi Rewards

Stagecoach boosts Perthshire independent businesses by getting on board with Mi Rewards

Bus operator Stagecoach is backing independent businesses in Perth by signing up to the local Mi Rewards loyalty scheme, giving passengers the chance to benefit from shopping local and travelling by bus.

Mi Rewards, the UK’s first card-linked loyalty programme launched in Perth in September 2018 by Miconex – a company founded and based in Perth. It takes an innovative approach to rewards schemes by eliminating the need for a special loyalty card. Registered users link their existing debit or credit cards to the service and receive one ‘Mi Point’ each time they spend £1.

In addition to this, Mi Rewards customers also receive perks, event tickets and random acts of kindness just for being part of the scheme.

The scheme promotes the use of local businesses in Perth and there are now more than 70 shops, cafes, restaurants, salons and venues participating in the scheme in and around the city.

Connecting the community with so many of these local businesses, bus company Stagecoach have now joined the scheme, allowing existing bus users to collect Mi Rewards points for travelling by bus. The development will see the people of Perth and Kinross rewarded for travelling and shopping locally at the huge number of retailers across the city.

Stagecoach have also confirmed a double points reward for the launch, which will last from the official launch date of 13 February until Sunday 24 February 2019. This means that Stagecoach customers buying bus tickets using their credit/debit card linked to the Mi Rewards scheme can receive 2 points per £1 spent, helping to build up their rewards to be spent in Perth.

Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Leven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Leven Castle

Mary Queen of Scots and Loch Leven Castle

January saw the opening of a new film about Mary Queen of Scots, and although I have yet still to go to the Playhouse in Perth to watch the film,  I thought I would write about a famous event involving Mary that took place in Perth and Kinross – the imprisonment of the queen at Loch Leven Castle.

Mary Queen of Scots is perhaps one of Scotland’s most tragic monarchs,  she was born in Linlithgow Palace on the 8th of December 1542.  Her father James V was not exactly over the moon when he was told of the birth of his daughter.  He was lying in his sick bed in Falkland Palace and upon receiving the news exclaimed rather sadly “it came wi a lass and it will gang wi a lass” he was referring to the Stewart or Stuart dynasty.   Mary’s father James died six days later on the 14th of December. 

The infant was crowned queen on the 9th of September 1543 she was less than a year old.  The King of England Henry VIII tried to persuade the Scottish nobility that the young queen should marry his son and when this was rejected he sent his armies into Scotland to force the issue.  This is referred to as the Rough Wooing, with Scotland being subjected to these English raids the queen was sent to France where she married the heir to the French throne in 1558.  The following year Mary’s husband was crowned Francois II of France.  The time in France was to be the happiest of her life, but it was not to last, for in 1560 the young French king died,  Mary was sent back to Scotland arriving in Leith in 1561.

Things were extremely difficult for her, she was a Catholic while most of her subjects including her nobility were Protestant.  Mary married her cousin Henry Stewart Lord Darnley in 1565, despite having a child together it was not a happy union.  Darnley was spoilt, immature and a womaniser.  He was manipulated into being involved in murdering Mary’s secretary David Rizzio, this crime was carried out in the queen’s chambers in Holyrood Palace.  Mary who was pregnant at the time never forgave her husband for his part in the murder.  Lord Darnley himself was to die in suspicious circumstances, while sick he was convalescing in a building called Kirk o Field in Edinburgh. 

Loch Leven castle sits on the biggest island on Loch Leven, it is owned by Historic Scotland and open to the public.  It is well worth a visit, especially on a nice day.  The castle was to be Mary’s prison for just over ten months arriving on the 17th of June 1567 and leaving on the morning of the 3rd of May 1568.  Imprisonment here was to be the low point of Mary’s time in Scotland, while held Mary miscarried twins that had been conceived with Lord Bothwell. Her jailers were The Douglases, a powerful family who had played a prominent role in Scotland’s history since the days of Robert the Bruce. 

Lady Douglas had been the mistress of the queen’s father King James V , she was the mother of James Stewart the Earl of Moray, Mary’s half brother, Moray was to become regent while Mary was locked up, running the country on behalf of the queen’s young son James VI.  The queen was confined to two rooms on the third floor of the tower.  Lady Douglas was to share a bedroom with the queen, so Mary had very little privacy.  She spent her long days walking in the garden or doing needlework. 


Her supporters on the outside were desperate to secure her freedom, they knew Mary’s life was in danger, her jailers had been told to kill Mary if an escape attempt was made by her followers.  Mary did make an effort to escape on one occasion a laundress had been brought to the castle and Mary who was up early swapped clothing with this woman. Covering her face, Mary made it down to the boat,  she was being rowed across the loch when one of the boatmen foiled the plan, he noticed how white, soft and smooth the ladies hands looked. 

A second attempt was to be successful, Mary was helped by one of her jailers he was Willie Douglas an eighteen-year-old youth who was captivated by the charismatic queen.  On the night of the 2nd of May, he managed to obtain the master key to the tower.  When the rest of the household were celebrating May Day with a masked ball, Willie made his way to the queen’s room.  Releasing the queen, they made their way to a boat and rowed across the loch to freedom.

Once free Mary gathered her support and raised an army, it was defeated at the Battle of Langside near Glasgow.  Mary Queen of Scots then fled to England where she sought the protection of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I of England.  Mary was implicated in a plot to kill the English queen and executed in 1587.

Article by Gary Knight

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