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Short Breaks from Perth

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Ever needed to just get away, but you can't go for too long? Please tell us about your short breaks away (e.g. day trips, road trips or weekend breaks), whether it be for ultimate relaxation, or to be active and practice hobbies you may have (fishing,

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      24.05.2009 22:11
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      tested ideas for day trips from Perth

      The idea of a "short break from" Perth I find rather strange - if a short break a means 2-3 nights away). Most of Europe and at a stretch, probably a few other places are within reach for such purposes, as Perth is within easy reach of major Scottish airports.

      Thus, I have translated "short breaks" as "full day trips with a potential for staying a night" and thus came up with the ideas following below. We live about 8 miles south of Perth and most of those trips are are tried and tested on friends, family and couch surfers coming to stay for a few days.

      Perth advertises itself rather grandly as a "perfect centre", and although the town itself falls rather short of this line of copy, Perth itself and the area around it is certainly an excellent starting base for exploring a lot of Scotland: from the known attractions of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, to Fife, Dundee and parts of Angus to large swathes of the Highland Perthshire and Argyll, a lot of what's good in Scotland is within easy reach from Perth.

      Public transport links are reasonable, although Dundee is probably better if you have to rely on buses and trains. I am kind of assuming an access to a car here, as for a lot of places public transport connections vary from complex and lengthy to non-existent. All the trips below are involve less than 2 hours' drive from Perth, and for many it's significantly shorter.

      **SOUTH OF PERTH: FAMOUS CITIES**

      Edinburgh is about 50 miles and 1h drive away, while Glasgow is a bit further at around 70 miles. Each of those is easily doable as a day trip, and each will easily provide enough interest to warrant a longer stay. I will not go into detail about the cities as each deserves much more than a paragraph in such a reviews, but Edinburgh, with its museums and galleries, Castle, Royal Mile and Arthur's Seat is the obvious first choice here.

      Stirling, a much smaller place but with a rather resplendent castle is another easy (30 miles) trip from Perth, and a visit can be combined with an entirely different experience of visiting the Falkirk wheel, a rotating boat lift that replaced a chain of 11 canal locks, or a trip to Blairdrummond Safari Park.


      **EAST OF PERTH: THE KINGDOM AND DUNDEE**

      Fife is a small county between the Tay and Forth, and has its own category on dooyoo, but all of Fife is within an easy drive of Perth and one of the trips we make a point of taking our visitors on is St Andrews, less for the golfing connections (neither of us plays) and more because it has nice beaches, fantastic historical remains in the Abbey and the castle as well as simply nicely strollable old centre (but it can get very crowded in season and on sunny weekends ).

      There are other places in Fife well worth visiting, from Falkland Palace to the deer park near Cupar, as well as a series of picturesque villages along the coast known collectively as the East Neuk.

      Dundee is also east of Perth along the Tay. I am not terribly fond of Dundee, although it has some interesting attractions and a stunning location on the Tay estuary, but it's more of a secondary tourist destination unless you have specific interest in industrial heritage (Verdant Works), Captain Scott (Discovery Point) or have children keen on on visiting a hands-on science centre (Sensation).

      **NORTH and WEST OF PERTH: THE HIGHLANDS**

      Perthshire is a large county and a lot of it is distinctly Highland in character. A variety of day and longer trips can be made from Perth to explore the hills, glens and lochs of the Highlands and it's hard to pick the best destination or route.

      1) Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

      This loch famed for its beauty is normally associated with trips from Glasgow, but actually makes a reasonable (albeit quite long) drive from Perth. You can drive west along the A85 through Crieff and Comrie, and approach it in a large circle from the north via Crianlarich (this will take over 2 hours), or go down A9 and turn off near Dunblane (1.5h).

      2) The Angus glens

      The five Angus Glens (Glen Isla, Glen Clova, Glen Prosen, Glen Lethnot and Glen Esk, with Glen Doll following on from Glen Clova and Glen Shee whcih is not technically one of them but near enough) take you right into the heart of the Cairngorms.

      These are typically a Dundee day-trip destination, but it's about an hour's drive from Perth to Glenshee, and other Angus glens are also within less than 2 hour drive.

      They offer fantastic landscapes and varied walking, from gentle strolls suitable for families (although a three-wheeler or a baby backpack would be highly recommended for all) to mores serious hiking and even skiing (at Glenshee).

      3) Highland Perthshire with Loch Tay

      This area is perhaps the most obvious part of the Highlands to be visited as a day trip from Perth, and is so huge, varied and attractive that it would allow for weeks of exploration. But simpler day trips can also be easily done, though most of them entail a minimum of 1.5h drive.

      On easy trip that doesn't entail a long drive is Dunkeld & Birnam (see my review about Dunkeld).

      Kenmore is a good destination for a day trip, provided the weather is decent. On the way, you can stop in Aberfeldy, especially if you have a whisky distillery tour on your schedule (Dewar's World of Whisky is there). Kenmore is located at the western end of Loch Tay, and is a well know holiday destination, with lodges and holiday parks around it. There are good walks along the Tay, in the wooded areas on both sides of the river, and just round the corner of the loch there is the Scottish Crannog Centre, a fascinating attraction featuring a reconstruction of an early Iron Age loch-dwelling, built out in the water on stilts.

      And finally, a longer round-trip which may feature stops in several places.

      It's a wee bit of a mad drive as it's 120 miles long and will take at least 3 hours driving time, but it's an extremely picturesque one and covers a great variety of landscape along the way.

      Drive north up the A9. You could detour to Dunkeld - but this is perhaps better left for another, separate visit. Pass Pitlochry and take B8019 exit toward B8079/Kinloch Rannoch.

      Drive along the north bank of Loch Tummel to what is known as the Queen's View - a Forestry Commission site with a big car park, visitors' center and essentially something of a tourist trap - but the vista from the viewing platform is truly magnificent, with a clear view of the loch and Schiehallion in the distance.

      Turn left at B846 past Tummel Bridge, and in Keltneyburn turn right into an unclassified road to get to Fortingall. Fortingall is known for the oldest tree in Europe, the Fortingall Yew (estimates have put its age at between 2,000 and 5,000 years). The yew does indeed look ancient, spreading round more like a giant bush than a tree, and is well worth a look. Fortingall Hotel is a very nice place for a cup of tea and a scone, or a meal: it has a touch of the Highland Twee about it, but it fits well in the environment.

      Thus refreshed, continue west to Bridge of Balgie and take a road left towards A827 and Ben Lawers Visitor Centre. This is ten miles of a bendy, narrow road, through a true, real wilderness, rough and dramatic. The road climbs from the elevation of about 600ft to over 1,700ft and is single-track all the way: be prepared for some reversing, and think carefully about taking it when there is still some snow or in heavy rain. But the views are magnificent, and it's hard to get close to similar landscape without actually walking for a few miles.

      Once you are safely on the A827, turn left back towards Kenmore and Aberfeldy and make your way back to A9 and Perth.


      ***

      These are just a few examples of day trips that can be made from Perth. Its central location makes it ideal base for exploring a wide and varied area of country around it.

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