This post is well over due. My little blog celebrated it’s fourth birthday at the start of October, but with a mix of lurgy and being busy we forgot our yearly post. Rather than do a whole round-up of the passed year I thought I would share with you five new things we tried in Perthshire. One of our reasons for moving was for a change of lifestyle and to be outside more, and I think we are doing well with this goal.
Cold water swimming is closely taking over my life. If you’d have asked me this time last year if I thought I would be swimming in a loch in just a swimming costume in November I would have laughed in your face. Now it’s me doing the laughing when people ask me “but why?”
Dude has played plenty of golf and enjoyed some new courses whilst we have travelled around too.
We have done plenty of new walks and discovered waterfalls, castle ruins and had many wildlife encounters. Here are some of our highlights:
Canoeing on Loch Tay
Back in June I was invited to join the Wee Adventures team for a morning of canoeing out on Loch Tay. I’ve been canoeing before on the river Wye in Herefordshire with Dude a long time ago. With the ever patient Biscuit providing encouragement and instructions to hone our paddling skills I actually came away feeling (slightly) more accomplished and confident.
The group was a mixed bag of those who had completed more advanced white water courses and others, like myself, with very little experience. All of us with the same objective, to spend time out on the water and have fun.
We paddled our way over to Priory Island for the Wee Adventure’s standard brew and biscuit stop. In previous visits to the Crannog Centre I have seen groups SUP’ing (Stand Up Paddleboarding) across to the island and it’s always intrigued me. This was a brilliant opportunity to explore.
For such a small, unassuming island it has quite a history. Tales of monks, a fire and it is where Queen Sybilla died in 1122. These days it has been left to nature with curious visitors like us stopping off to explore the remains of the priory.
Powering on and back on the water fuelled by caffeine and sugar we propelled ourselves back toward Kenmore.
I’ve taken part in a few of the Wee Adventures adult sessions this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed each one and I love the practical aspect of learning. Biscuit’s way of explaining everything makes it feel like fun, but I guess that also comes from his love of the outdoors and the fact he spends most of his time teaching children!
Highly recommend for family fun, learning a new skill or just meeting new people.
MacDuff’s Monument and the Scone Circular walk
We are guilty of finding a few local walks that we enjoy and sticking to them. Which is daft because we are surrounded by amazing countryside and we have plenty of walk books and maps!
One windy and rather fresh day in March we decided to delve in to the Scone Circular. A 9km walk through the village of Scone, up onto the hillside, through the golf course and back.
As the name suggests, it is a circular walk and was created to celebrate the bicentenary of Scone being moved from it’s close proximity to Scone Palace. After some short sharp up hill pulls we were rewarded with clear views of the village and into Perth and beyond. The 18th century folly at the top of this hill now also now has a bench close by, allowing weary walkers to take in the view and catch their breath. We didn’t stay long here as the wind was howling across the top and we didn’t want to get cold.
Onward through the gorse, following the path to the obelisk ahead. Slightly elevated over to the folly behind us, Lynedoch obelisk was erected in 1853 at Murrayshall Hill in honour of Thomas Graham who died in 1843. The views from here were beautiful. Across to Kinnoull hill, the Cairngorms and Fife. Very little effort for such a rewarding vista.
We made our way down the other side of the hill and to the golf course. Managing to avoid getting hit with any wayward golf balls, and the rest of the walk was much flatter.
Although it was windy, we were super lucky with how clear the views were. Again proving that you don’t have to bag yourself a Munro for views to die for. There is definitely enough to keep anyone’s interest along the walk. If we were tight on time then we could have gone back the way we came for a shorter walk.
Certainly worth the effort.
We do enjoy a walk along the river and one sunny day in July we decided to check out the Birnam oak. I wanted to give this beast a hug.
Parking at the far end of Dunkeld, using the large carpark we walked back over the bridge to the former tollhouse and ventured down the steps to the river. It’s just a short walk from the road but you soon leave all the hustle and bustle noise of traffic behind. The one constant from here was the sound of the river.
We watched dippers, as they dived under water to feed and then jumped back on a rock before doing the same over and over. I was also very excited to see signs that beavers were also resident in this part of the river.
There are several large impressive trees that would have been a part of the ancient woodlands here. The first one we came to was the Birnam sycamore. I felt sad that there was a sign beneath it which reads “It’s not me, I’m a sycamore.” Almost indicating that it’s not as special as the famous oak. I have since read somewhere that the girth of the sycamore is 7.65metres (25ft) but yet the famous oak is “just” 7metres.
Of course they are both impressive, it’s just the oak tree has a claim to fame of being mentioned by Shakespeare. His visit to Perthshire inspired him to include the woods in to MacBeth.
Either way, certainly worth seeing.
We walked further along the path, enjoying the sounds of the river and birds before returning back the same way. An enjoyable few hours immersed in nature and history.
Another one of these local spots that seems to have passed us by undetected. Branklyn Garden on the outskirts of Perth is managed by the National Trust for Scotland and a peaceful haven for passionate gardeners and those that just want to enjoy a green space.
July seemed a good time to take a look at the collections of rhododendrons, alpines and other well established plants. What has been created by dedication, passion and the seeds collected in the 1920’s, now appears as both a well manicured but also wild garden over two acres.
I took the time to explore and just be still. Take in the tranquility of the garden just a stones throw from the city centre.
I was drawn to the small pond to watch insects skimming across the top and admire the reflections on a rare sunny day (it didn’t last, the rain came in the afternoon).
On this occasion I didn’t take my purse with me and I won’t be making the same mistake twice. The home baked scones looked amazing and could be enjoyed on the patio, over looking the garden. Perfect.
Obviously each season will tell it’s own tale and show it’s many layers, so I will be sure to go back (with my purse).
Spirits of Scone
One of our reasons for choosing to live close to Perth is it’s variety of events all through the year. The Spirits of Scone is a Halloween spooktacular and up until this year I’ve
avoided, I mean not got around to going to. I’m a scaredy cat when it comes to the dark and things that go bump in the night. I also have an over active imagination but when we were invited along I plucked up the courage to go along.
With my arm tightly, very tightly, linked through the Dude’s arm for the whole experience I am pleased to say we made it back out!
The air was crisp and a low mist hung in the air. Like the start of all good horror films. I can feel my heart racing again as I relive it now.
Off into the gardens we know so well in the daylight, now all we can hear is the scream of willing victims ahead of us. Pitch black with only minimal lighting we made our way along the paths. We encountered very convincing zombies, chainsaw wielding men, clowns lurking in bushes and a legless woman. I mean an actual woman with out her legs!
At one point I squealed so loud I think I could have shattered glass. I did however, draw the line at entering the maze.
In the daylight the beech hedge maze is a bit of fun. For a few days over Halloween it’s an enclosed space full of scary things/people wanting to terrify you. I wasn’t up for that but in the name of the blog, Dude boldly stepped up!
He came out relatively unscathed but laughing at the fact he may have unwittingly scared other people as they came from another direction trying to avoid being caught by a baddie! If this was you, I apologise on his behalf.
I was petrified and on edge all the way around and my adrenaline was off the scale. With the occasional nervous laugh and holding my breath, I had a great time. Dude did too, but maybe he’s missed his calling?
What a year
This is just a snippet of our excellent adventures, in addition to those I have already shared on here and social media. With one month already under our belts of our fifth year living in Scotland, I can tell it’s going to be another pure, dead, brilliant one. I look forward to telling you all about the next five new things we tried in Perthshire very soon.
*Both the canoeing with Wee Adventures and the Spirits of Scone event were on a complimentary basis in exchange for social media media posts and this blog post. All thoughts on zombies and trees are my own.