Perthshire is well-known for its delicious soft fruits, and for its lovely bluebell woods. The month of May is a great time to sample both of these, so when deciding where to go for this month’s Day Out From Perth, it had to be the Blairgowrie area. There are farm shops aplenty around these parts, selling some of Scotland’s best strawberries, raspberries and vegetables, and there are beautiful bluebell woods to explore.
And because 2017 is the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, there will be links to the past, too.
I head off on a fruit-/flower-finding mission – first stop Meigle.
9.45am – Meigle
Meigle is a pretty village about 18 miles from Perth, and it’s a pleasant drive. A friend has recommended the Pot & Pantry café and farm shop, so I head there first. I order a coffee and some delicious walnut- and fruit cake and check out the surroundings. There’s a deli area full of treats such as fresh bread and rolls, chai tea, fruit and veg. On my way out, after chatting to the friendly staff, I pick up some corn bread and seed-topped rolls and head next door to the Quirky Cuckoo gift shop. It’s packed with lovely items such as scarves, bags, clothing, traditional kids’ toys, baby gifts and plants. After a little retail therapy, I head on my way.
10.30am – Pictish Stone Museum, Meigle
Until today, I didn’t know there was a Pictish Stone Scuplture Museum in Meigle, so when I see the sign I have to pay it a visit. Just the night before, we’d been with friends to the first ever Museum Late at Perth Museum, which introduced us to a new and innovative Pictish exhibition, so I’m in the mood to find out more. There are some impressive examples of Pictish art here, surprisingly well-preserved. The symbols on the sculpture even include seahorses and a camel! Alan, the museum guide, has in-depth knowledge of his subject, and is game enough to model the Pictish shoes and socks from the dressing-up box. On that sartorial note, it’s time to move on to Alyth.
11.15am – Story Box and M M Ferguson shop, Alyth
I arrive in Alyth and head straight for the Story Box, a local-history archive located in a renovated red phone box. You simply pop into the phone box and press a button to hear fascinating stories about Alyth’s history, recorded by local residents.
After all my historical insights I’m ready for more shopping so I head to M M Ferguson, a local grocer’s shop. It sells oatcakes, bread, local strawberries and rows of sweetie jars adorned with twinkling fairy lights. The woman behind the counter is friendly, chatting away as she tots up the totals on her notepad. I buy some delicious local strawberries and some rhubarb-and-custard sweets in a paper poke (which I was lucky to get – apparently there had been a run on them last week!).
11.30am – The Barony, Alyth
I have time before I leave Alyth to pop up to The Barony, an outdoor centre where you can hire bikes and kayaks, book an adventure, grab a coffee, buy outdoor supplies and even have a shot on their climbing wall. We don’t need any bikes today but I’m keeping it in mind for a future trip as I’ve heard great things about Outdoor Explore, the company that runs kayak tours, hill-walks, mountain bike trips and canoe safaris from this centre and their Perth branch.
11.45am – Marshall’s Farm shop, outside Alyth
I’m on my way to Blairgowrie when I spot a shed in a car park off the main road selling local raspberries and strawberries, home-made meringues, fresh potatoes and asparagus. After a quick chat with the farmer (and yet more friendly service) and some tasty purchases, that’s the family’s dinner sorted!
12.00pm – Shops in Blairgowrie
Before meeting up with my family for lunch, I pop into the Tourist Information Centre and get some great advice from Rachael who’s on duty there. She gives me a map and some tips on where to find the bluebell wood I have in mind.
Then I wander round the shops, and happen upon All Things Fair, selling fair-trade and local items. I pop in and have a great chat with the owner, Anna, who shows me her wide range of stock, including local soaps, candles from Ullapool, bags by fab Edinburgh company Earth Squared, and jewellery, scarves, bags and clothing from around the world.
Anna also tells me about Something Special, an award-winning designer florist shop on Allan Street. Apparently the shop owner’s away in London this week, having qualified with one of the top 16 florist scores in the UK heats for the RHS Chelsea Florist of the Year 2017. Best of luck! Time now for lunch…
12.45pm – Lunch at Cargill’s Bistro, Blairgowrie
For lunch we’ve booked a table at Cargill’s Bistro, by the riverside in Blairgowrie. It’s named after Donald Cargill, a local minister on the run from the king’s guards, who was said to have escaped capture by leaping a seemingly impossible distance over a gorge on the River Ericht.
Cargill’s is a bright, colourful restaurant serving fine local food, and it’s clearly a popular place. We order starters of baked camembert with honey, and garlic mushrooms, followed by a creamy tagliatelle, a burger for our daughter and a dish of scallops and black pudding. It’s tasty, and the presentation is thoughtful. We get some coffees to go, and fetch our dog from the car for a walk along the river.
2.00pm – Riverside Walk, Blairgowrie
Time for a short stroll along the River Ericht walk, just one of many that form part of the Blairgowrie path network. Blairgowrie is also the start and finish of the 64-mile long Cateran Trail, Scotland’s only long-distance circular walk and the base for the popular Annual Blairgowrie Walking Festival. That’s one to come back and do! We’re enjoying the fresh air so we decide it’s time to see the bluebell wood.
2.30pm – Bluebell Wood, White Loch and Fingask Loch, Blairgowrie
For years we’ve wanted to go to Darroch Bluebell Wood, probably the best-known in Perthshire, so we’re delighted to get our chance today. The walk starts just off the main Perth Road, and we haven’t got far when we come across White Loch, a beautiful, tranquil little loch that’s home to swans, moorhens and, from the look of the expertly-gnawed tree trunks, a family of beavers.
Another few minutes and we’re passing a farm and Fingask Loch, which is a popular hunting ground for osprey. We cross the farm field (keeping the pooch firmly on the lead) and head for Darroch Wood. As soon as we reach the gate we can see the carpet of lilac bluebells, stretching as far as the eye can see. Every corner turned reveals more and more of the pretty purple flowers. It feels magical, an assault on the senses. Even when we’re caught in a rain shower we don’t mind – the aroma released by the storm is heavenly! We head back to the car and the nearby Dalmore Inn – we reckon we’ve earned a hot drink.
3.30pm – Dalmore Inn, Blairgowrie
The Dalmore Inn is a comfortable and well-furnished bar and restaurant on the Perth Road, and we’re warmly welcomed despite our slightly dishevelled appearance and wet wellies! We enjoy our hot drinks as our legs dry off in the warmth, and make a note to come back here for lunch or dinner soon.
4.20pm – Home time
It’s time to head back to Perth and enjoy our delicious local produce. We’ve all had a great day in this area and we remark on the friendly reception we’ve received everywhere – not just today, but on all of our Days Out from Perth. We think the future of Perthshire’s tourism is in good hands.
Other things to do in the area
- Blairgowrie & Rattray Highland Games: http://www.blairgowriehighlandgames.co.uk
- Cargill’s Leap: https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/perthshire/cargills-leap.shtml
- Cateran Trail: https://www.pkct.org/cateran-trail
- Coracle-making using traditional skills: https://www.facebook.com/AlythCraftTourism/posts/1654438808192392
- Coupar Angus Cycling Festival (10-18 June): https://cacyclinghub.com/get-involved-2/cycling-festival/
- Golf courses: http://www.golfperthshire.co.uk/play.php
- J&J Howe’s Auctions: http://www.jjhowe.co.uk/auctions-house
- Record-breaking Beech Hedge, Meikleour: http://www.nothingtoseehere.net/2006/07/meikelour_beech_hedge_perthshi.html
- Scottish Woodland Skills Centre: http://www.scottishwoodlandskillscentre.co.uk/courses.html
- Piobh Mhor bagpipe and kilt-making shop: https://www.facebook.com/Piob-Mhor-of-Scotland-354942877890096/
- Den of Alyth https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/perthshire/den-of-alyth.shtml
Places to stay in Perth
If you’d like to do a great Day Out from Perth, here’s a list of fantastic accommodation in the heart of the city where you can stay, before and/or afterwards:
- Atholl Place Self-Catering Townhouse
- Achnacarry Guest House
- Alexander Residence
- Almond Villa Guesthouse
- Auld Manse Guest House
- Auld Manse Self Catering Apartment
- Balvaird Apartment at Scone Palace
- Best Western Queens Hotel
- The Fitzroy Bed & Breakfast
- Grampian Hotel
- Hazeldene Guest House
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel
- Mercure Hotel
- Murrayshall Hotel & Golf Courses
- No 9 The Guest House Perth
- The Parklands Hotel
- Premier Inn Hotel
- The Royal George Hotel
- Salutation Hotel
- Sunbank House Hotel
- The Townhouse
- Woodlea Guest House