One of the things about travelling around Scotland is that around each and every corner, under every stone there is even more history, a spectacular view or locals with tale to tell. Sometimes we can all been guilty of wanting to get to our destination as quick as possible and if you are travelling through bonnie Perthshire, I will bet my bottom dollar that it’s the A9 you choose as your route of choice. It’s direct, straight (ish), and will get you to where you need to be a.s.ap. However, by doing this, and I am also guilty of this on occasion, we miss out on some cracking places; lonely glens, silent lochs and magical wildlife encounters. This is why Dude and I decided to get off the A9 and have a day out in Kenmore.
Get off the A9
A thirty minute (picturesque) drive, west of the A9 and the winding roads take you through the bright lights of Aberfeldy (a sweet place to stop off too) but on this occasion we continue a further seven miles to the village of Kenmore. Immediately greeted with a gorgeous view down Loch Tay, the hills line either side, a small harbour and a sense of tranquility.
We have been guilty of driving straight through this pretty place and down to Killin on previous occasions. This time it was great to actually explore more things to do in Kenmore. We knew there would be plenty of time after our pre-booked boat trip with Loch Tay Safaris.
Loch Tay Safaris
Having booked in advance, we arrived early for our 10am sailing with Loch Tay Safaris. After meeting the skipper and crew, Dude and I were given our life jackets and invited aboard (along with the other passengers).
First impressions – wow! Very cool.
Don’t ask me why, but, even though I had seen photos of the boat on the website it didn’t register that all seating was under cover, making it possible to sail even in the dreich weather. Twelve comfy seats, large windows and even a glass roof – a decent view for everyone.
Scotland has been basking in the sunshine for weeks now, however I should have put a bet on it raining for our boat trip! Right on cue, it rained for the start of our tour of Loch Tay. Or maybe it happens on all tours to give visitors a full Scottish experience of the weather? It didn’t last long and before we knew it the sunlight was streaming through the large windows again.
The tour lasted ninety minutes, with plenty of local history – tales of nuns, wildlife, mountains and kelpies. Knowledgeable guides with tales of folklore, banter and even bringing along some props! With the time made up of periods of drifting idly as particular areas are pointed out to us, adrenaline pumping super fast twists and turns and time outside to take photos and feed the kelpies, time flew and soon it was time to put out feet back on dry land.
We had an absolute ball, really enjoying a different view of the loch and it’s surroundings.
By now my stomach is rumbling and we decide to weigh up our options for lunch. Wandering around the wee village, in the main square, the Kenmore Hotel dominates this space with it’s black and white facade. It lays claim to be the oldest inn in Scotland and is said to date back to 1572 and probably it’s most famous visitor was Robert Burns. He kindly left his early mark of “I woz ere” in the plaster in the form of a poem.
Still undecided by menus we thought we would drive around to the marina which is next door to our next stop, the Scottish Crannog Centre.
Within seconds of reading the menu and seeing the view from the outside deck at the Taymouth Marina, we went in to find a seat. Scotland has really treated us to so many beautifully warm (roasting) days this summer, sitting outside to eat has become a bit of thing. Who knew!
Opting for a hearty Cullen skink and a sandwich we watched the world go by – Loch Tay Safaris boat going back out and a couple of ladies on their stand up paddle boards. After only a short wait our food arrived and the immediate smell of creamy fish soup was wafting under our noses. Double fish whammy as we both chosen smoked salmon sandwiches too, it would be rude not to as it’s smoked locally.
By far this is the best Cullen skink we’ve eaten. Hands down.
Scottish Crannog Centre
A short hop, skip and jump from our seats at the marina restaurant and we were at the Scottish Crannog Centre. A couple of months ago I did a tin casting workshop at the centre and had a brilliant time but didn’t get a chance to have a tour of the Crannog itself, so today would be a first for both Dude and I.
Our group had about twenty people and as we entered the Crannog with our guide we were all seated comfortably on benches. It took my eyes a few minutes to adjust coming in from the sunshine before I could see properly again. Then picking out the central fire, raised beds and beautiful thatched roof.
The first thing I noticed as we walked in was the springy floor. Looking down I could see it was a mixture of wool, feathers and straw, very authentic.
Our guide, dressed in her early Iron Age clothing spoke about the people who would have built the Crannog, why it would have been built over the water, the tools they would have used and the construction itself. Truly fascinating.
At the end of the talk we were left to explore the Crannog for ourselves, taking photos is difficult (without a tripod) because of how dark it is but it was nice to look around.
As we moved on to “Technology” outside under a shelter we learnt how back in the Iron Age tools were made, how to start a fire and grinding flour between two stones. After demonstrations by our guide in this section the group were free to roam around the different areas, including a kitchen where we sampled fresh bread made in a clay oven and washed down with nettle cordial.
I found it particularly interesting to learn which plants were used for dying yarns and which plants/materials are stronger for making ropes.
With members of staff at each station there are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and learn more and even have a go.
I am rubbish at remembering dates in history and that’s what put me off studying it any further than I needed to at school. I think if I had the opportunity to learn in this way I may well have enjoyed it and retained so much more. Hey ho, every day is a school day and the Scottish Crannog Centre is a real gem for learning more, even at my age.
A day out in Kenmore
We thoroughly enjoyed our day out and it made us realise there are so many things to do in Kenmore. There are a myriad of opportunities to get out on the water in canoes, small boats, SUP’s. We know there are waterfall walks in the area but sadly didn’t have the time to fit that in. A good excuse to return. I think with the autumnal colour my camera will LOVE another trip out here.
If you plan to stay in the area, one thing is sure, you won’t be stuck for things to do.
**I would like to thank Loch Tay Safaris for inviting us to experience one of their cruises in exchange for this blog post. Any comments about good food and not listening at school that can be heard over the rumbling sound of my stomach are entirely my own.