THE PERTHSHIRE ROUND
Anyone not wishing to undertake the rigours of a trip into the Highlands might taste the flavour by skirting its southern fringes. There’s a surprisingly rich variety of landscape and history in Perthshire,
We don’t normally prescribe the Perthshire Round other then making you aware of it’s potential and then allowing you to decide where you’d like to place the emphasis by way of priority. In a crude order however we could start off at Scone Palace just outside the city of Perth.
Perth is right in the heartland of historic Scotland, and the pint stoned Scone Palace the one time seat of the ancient kings. The palace is half castle, half stately home, but is more famed for the emblematic ‘stone of destiny’. The stone was the coronation of stone of ancient Scottish kings and was seized by the English to underline Scotland’s subjugation and placed under the ‘speakers chair’ at Westminster. It became a focus for Scottish nationalism for centuries. The stone survived a bombing when it was caught in the blast of a device placed by suffragettes campaigning for women to be given the vote. It was also recovered after a student kidnap plot momentarily succeeded in returning it to Scotland despite a nationwide hunt. This of course assumes that it was the real stone along. For centuries it was claimed the stone that the English seized was a copy made by monks designed to deceive.
Today the stone has been returned to Scotland when they were granted a national assembly. Aside from the stone, Scone also has many interesting state rooms and beautifully maintained gardens
Scone Palace the ancient seat of kings
After Scone, it would be a short 20 miles north to one of Scotland’s most iconic vistas, ‘the Queens View’. It is known that Queen Victoria was taken by this elevated Perthshire vista that stretches the length of Loch Tummel to the mountains of Lochaber and Glencoe beyond in 1866, but the likelihood is that the Queen in question is Isabella, Robert the Bruce’s Queen. She was alleged to rest here when journeying back into the Highlands
The Queens View looking out over Loch Tummel
If it’s Scotland, then there must be a battlefield just round the corner, and sure enough the pass of Killiecrankie obliges. In 1689 an army of Jacobites (James’s men) routed a quasi-English force composed largely of lowland Scots and royalists. The precise composition of belligerent armies in Scottish history is often complicated, but like so many, this one divides along catholic and protestant lines. The hastily assembled Scottish/ Jacobite army was knowingly under strength but moved swiftly non-the-less to occupy the higher ground at the top of the pass, even if they were out-numbered. Rather than attempt an uphill surge, the English adopted attrition, and began firing muskets all afternoon. This they did to little affect, but with a bright sun in their eyes, the Jacobites waited until about seven o’clock before unleashing ‘the clan charge’.
At close quarters the Cameron highlanders in particular were savage. The downhill charge was so swift many in the English ranks didn’t have time to even fix bayonets. Man for man, the Highlander was a fierce opponent and they quickly cut the English to pieces within minutes. It set in train a chain of events that would end with the Glencoe massacre (1692).
Although Killiekrankie had been a decisive victory, it didn’t affect the outcome of the rising. It would be necessary to take Edinburgh to continue the rising, but Jacobite leader, Viscount Dundee, had been mortally wounded at Killiekrankie. Even so, the expectation was that Edinburgh would still fall, but a small band of Cameronian rifles under the leadership of George Munro succeeded in halting the advance at the battle of Dunkeld (name checked in the film Ghostbusters!). As they spent ammunition, and started to lose men, the Jacobites started to fracture and withdrew, having failed to advance. Returning MacDonalds, and men of Glengarry pillaged the Campbell lands which forced the beleaguered Campbells to take commissions in the English army.
Today’s battlefield has a visitors centre but the pass of Killiekrankie is equally famous for its deep gorge in which the River Garry flows. The battle itself is probably most famed for the ‘soldiers leap’. During the battle, a Donald MacBean, is said to have jumped 18ft across the River Garry to safety. Clear testimony one suspects to what the prospect of being cut to ribbons by claymores can summon up in someone.
The pass at Killiekrankie. The River Garry is often appears black as it flows through the gorge
We don’t make a habit of trying to steer clients into tourist shopping venues, but make an exception for the Perthshire retail outlet village of ‘House of Bruar’ just north of Pitlochry. The House of Bruar stocks the very best in quality Scottish produce including knitwear, fine foods, plus sportswear and equipment.
The only thing you might think you’ve missed is a distillery. Well Perthshire has that angle covered too at Blair Athol, best known for Bells whisky which lays-on organised tours and has its own visitors centre.
The Blair Athol distillery
There is also the ‘white’ Blair castle close by too. Blair castle has one of Europe’s last remaining private armies guarding it, albeit this is completely ceremonial. The castle is set in the majestic grounds and set against a fabulous Perthshire back-drop of mountains and glens
This day-trip can be undertaken from Perth, Stirling, and Gleneagles. Aspects of it can also be serviced from Edinburgh. It combines a mixture of time dependent venues and open access sites. We would tend to advise that you consider missing some components to maximise time at other locations. Elements of it can also be taken-in en-route of return from the Highlands