Motorbiking in Perthshire
Annelie Carmichael, a regular writer for Perth City, decided to find out why Perthshire’s great for motorbikers……..
I had an inkling about why they might like this amazing county. But since I’ve only ridden pillion on a total of two mopeds in my whole life, I’m not what you’d call an expert.
Time, I thought, to bring in the bikers. So I put out the call, and the bikers answered. You told me what you like about getting on your bike, what it means to you, and what you love about biking in beautiful Perthshire.
And what a great bunch you turned out to be. Forget the well-worn stereotype – motorbiking today seems to be more about freedom, taking in the scenery, having a bit of escapism after a hard week at work, hanging out with your mates – and even raising money for charity.
So read on to find out what bikers really want – and how to find it all in Perthshire.
1) Interesting Roads
Bikers love interesting roads. Who wants to sit in traffic all day on a major road when you could be testing your skills and enjoying the twists, turns and challenges of Perthshire’s rural roads?
Alan Yeoman, a Glasgow biker, says he enjoys Perthshire because it has “more challenging (but not over-challenging) roads. You want country roads, not a straight dual carriageway.”
Bill Suttie, a local biker, likes that Perthshire is “central, with all major roads easily accessible. There are lots of good twisty side roads too. Bikers like twisty roads.”
Steve Coulson, a biker from Crieff, adds, “Perthshire offers up some nice roads – they’re undulating, with lots of curves, and are by and large in good condition. You can pick any road in Perthshire, and you will find something good about it. You’d struggle to find a road in Perthshire without some great features.”
Scott Wilson from Longforgan, who’s been biking since he was 16, has this helpful recommendation, based on some of his favourite roads:
“For a 2- to 3-hour ride, I’d do Longforgan to Crieff, then Killearn, Killin (just outside Perthshire), back into Perthshire and down Loch Tay, along to Kenmore, Aberfeldy, down through Dunkeld, Birnam, Perth and back home.
“For a 1- to 2-hour ride you could take the A93 from Perth to Blairgowrie, then west to Dunkeld then the Sma’ Glen, before heading south to Gilmerton or Crieff and back to Perth.”
Darren Slater, a biker from Bridge of Earn, adds, “There are lots of good back roads around Bridge of Earn. The Path of Condie is a beautiful run, as is the Auchterarder-Crieff-Blairgowrie-Perth road.”
Our bikers loved talking about their favourite routes and roads – here’s a selection (see our handy map for routes):
A823 from Glendevon through Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Muthill and Crieff
A85 from Perth through Crieff to Loch Earn, through Comrie and St Fillans (carries on outside Perthshire to Crianlarich and Tyndrum)
A822 from Crieff, through Amulree and the Sma’ Glen, to Birnam and Dunkeld
A826 from Milton to Aberfeldy
A827, from Ballinluig, through Grandtully, Aberfeldy and Kenmore, all the way along Loch Tay
A93, from Perth through Blairgowrie and Bridge of Cally all the way to Glenshee (or you can use A94 through Coupar Angus to Blairgowrie)
A924 & A926, from Pitlochry / Moulin through Bridge of Cally to Rattray and then New Alyth
2) Great scenery
Perthshire is world-famous for its great scenery, and there are few better ways to appreciate it than on two wheels.
Imagine spending a day biking through heather-filled moors, past vast lochs and rushing rivers, over stunning mountains and into glens filled with dappled sunlight. That may sound rather poetic for a bunch of leather-clad lads and lasses, but scenery is one of the things that bikers love best about Perthshire.
Scott Wilson says, “The countryside in Perthshire is the best. There’s a mix of forest, lochs, mountains, and lots of open roads with no interruptions.” Scott particularly recommends the Perthshire glens (such as the Sma’ Glen) for their stunning scenery.
Piotr Gudan, a biker who runs an outdoor adventure centre, says that if you want to see great scenery, “the Scenic Snow Route – A93, from Blairgowrie to Braemar and further north – would be a great start.”
Recommended scenic spots
There are so many to choose from, but here’s a fine selection of scenic spots, to drive past or to stop at and enjoy the spectacular views.
- Loch Tummel
- Loch Earn
- Loch Tay
- Loch Rannoch
- Loch Garry
- Loch Ericht
- Loch Errochty
- Loch Freuchie
- Loch Lyon
- Dunalastair Reservoir
- Glen Lyon
- The Sma’ Glen
- Glen Shee
- Glen Artney
- Glen Garry and the Pass of Drumochter
3) Good food and a warm welcome
If you’re out all day or all weekend on your bike, you’re going to want to stop for coffee, tea, some excellent cake or a good old bag of chips.
Timandra Harkness, a biker from London, says that after good roads, “friendly locals are most important. Ease of parking and bike-friendly accommodation also count for a lot.”
Steve Coulson adds, “I don’t ride around thinking of biker-friendly cafés, because I’ve felt welcome everywhere in Perthshire.”
It helps, too, if the place you stop at has outdoor seating and a decent-sized area where you can leave your bike and keep an eye on it.
Recommended places to stop
Where do our bikers like to stop for a break in Perthshire? They had lots to say on this subject – suggestions include:
- Cargill’s Restaurant & Bistro, Blairgowrie (Piotr Gudan says that there’s “ample free parking by the lovely River Ericht.”)
- Cateran Café, Blairgowrie (Piotr adds: “Cateran Café and Cargill’s both offer amazing food at very good prices.”)
- The Barony, Alyth – shop, climbing wall, tourist information place and coffee shop
- Wee House of Glenshee, north of Blairgowrie – gift shop and tearoom
- Kenmore Hotel, Kenmore – hotel, bar and grill (Steve says: “It’s great for motorcyclists, and there’s plenty of room outside to sit near your bike.”)
- The Watermill Café, Aberfeldy – café, bookshop, exhibition space
- Ballinluig Motor Grill, Ballinluig Services – a favourite with Harley riders
- The Perth Arms, Dunkeld – traditional family-run pub
- The Taybank, Dunkeld – pub with beer garden specialising in local food and traditional music
- The Angler’s Inn, Guildtown – award-winning restaurant
- The Glover Arms, Perth – inn and restaurant. Anita Peebles, a biker from Fife, explains, “This is a good food stop – the staff are always friendly and usually give us a table with room for our bike helmets.”
- The Highland Chocolatier, Grandtully – award-winning luxury chocolates, and Chocolate Lounge
- House of Bruar, Blair Atholl – food hall, café, shops
- Rannoch Station Tea Room, Kinloch Rannoch – possibly the most stunningly located tearoom in the UK
- Almond Villa Guesthouse, Dunkeld Road, Perth – recommended for their welcome and their delicious breakfasts (see below for a full list of Perth accommodation)
- Toilets at “the Square” in Crieff – a little more practical, but Anita recommends this as a stopping point as there’s a decent-sized, flat car park behind them (unlike the Square which is on a slope).
3) Hanging out with other bikers
You bikers are a friendly lot. Although you sometimes like getting away for a journey on your own, you also like meeting up to ride in a group, or to have a blether about bikes, biking and anything else under the sun.
You also raise a lot of money for charity with your mates. Here are some good ways to meet up, join in and raise cash in Perthshire.
This annual event sees up to 300 bikers meeting up and riding through picturesque Perthshire locations such as Coupar Angus, Blairgowrie, Bridge of Cally, Pitlochry, Queen’s View and Kenmore. Bikers pay to enter, and proceeds to go Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA), based at Perth Airport. The organisers say: “As bikers we all know the dangers we face each time we take our bikes out, especially on some of the remote roads throughout Scotland. So together we can help make sure the service is there if we should need it.” This year’s event will take place on Sunday 21st May.
Perth Bike Night, say the organisers, is a “gathering of bikers, trikers and like-minded folk. Regardless of what you ride – 1, 2, 3 or 4 wheels – everyone will be made welcome!” Perth Bike Night is held at Noah’s, Perth, on the last Saturday of every month from April to September. Camping is available on site and there are local biker-friendly B&Bs.
There are various stalls on site selling hot and cold food and drinks, Army Surplus and everything in between.
Perth Bike Night is non-profit-making and proceeds from entry (£2 per person) and any raffle will be donated to the chosen charity of the evening.
Darren Slater adds, “Perth Bike Night has raised a lot of money for charity – we’ve even auctioned off a Harley Davidson bike to support people with disabilities.”
The Blairgowrie and District Motorcycling Club (BADMCC) has supported the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee since 2006, by organising the Maggie’s Run. This event takes in some of Perthshire’s most beautiful scenery before heading into neighbouring Aberdeenshire. The annual event has raised over £22,000 for the Maggie’s Centre charity in the last 11 years.
This year’s run for 2017 will be on Sunday 14th May, starting at around 10.00am from the Red House Hotel, Coupar Angus up to Stonehaven and along Deeside.
Thunder In The Glens
Every August, locals in Perthshire and the Highlands are treated to the spectacular sight and ear-splitting sound of 3000-plus Harley Davidsons roaring along our roads.
Thunder In The Glens is a weekend event that attracts participants and their Harleys from all over the globe, including Ireland, Europe, the USA and Australia. Although the riders congregate in Aviemore for the weekend, to get here they enjoy a fantastic journey through the hills and glens of Perthshire. Riders can take any route through the county, either direct or more meandering.
Organiser George McGuire, from the Dunedin Chapter of Harley owners and riders, told me what he loves about Perthshire: “When you come north in Perthshire, to the hill after Kinross, you seem to look right through the valley and it’s like a wide open gate, saying ‘Come in, enjoy yourself.’”
If you’re taking part in this year’s event, and you’d like to stay in Perth on your way, check out our handy list, below, of “Places to stay in Perth”.
The last word
Finally, I asked my biker interviewees what they love about biking in a county like Perthshire. Here’s a selection of their comments:
Timandra: “It’s a completely absorbing activity so it’s very relaxing. It gives a closer contact to the place I’m visiting than any other form of transport – I can not only see but feel the contours of the roads, smell the forests or the food in the towns.”
Steve: “I love the freedom that it gives. You’re out of the metal box and you’re more connected to what’s going around you. I think there’s a big connection between motorcycling and mindfulness. To ride safely you really need to be in the moment. Also there’s a friendliness and fraternity. We look after each other. We appreciate each other’s stances, each other’s different bikes, we all appreciate the connection.”
Darren: “I love the freedom. You get out on the road, get the cobwebs out of your hair. No matter how many people you’re out with, it’s you and the road.”
Freedom, mindfulness, friendliness and relaxation – that sounds like a fantastic way to spend your time. Bikers, you’re very welcome in Perthshire.
Places to stay in Perth
If you’d like to explore beautiful Perthshire on your bike, here’s a list of comfortable and welcoming accommodation in the heart of Perth 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
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