LOVERS of Scotland’s bard Robert Burns will know the lyrics he penned during a visit to the Falls of Moness in Perthshire.
In his song The Birks of Aberfeldy, he admired the crystal streamlets and little birdies at one of the area’s many, many beauty spots.
You can see why the Ploughman Poet was taken with Aberfeldy on his tour of the surrounding Highlands.
Waterfalls and birk – or birch – woods surround the pretty Perthshire town which, 200 years on from the Bard’s visit, makes for a sublime getaway destination.
Handily plonked in the middle of Scotland – it’s not too taxing a drive from any of the major cities – we arrived in Aberfeldy on a Friday evening.
We were due to stay at The Townhouse, an exquisite B&B which dates back to 1890.
Rabbie missed out on staying here by a hundred years or so, and it’s his loss really.
Unsurprisingly it’s a townhouse, but the building and its 15 ensuite rooms have recently been refurbished, and now the hotel exists as a tasteful modern Highland venue.
Each of the rooms boasts a view of the rolling hills surrounding Aberfeldy, perhaps inviting you to write your own Burns-style lyrics during your stay.
You check in to The Townhouse at the bar which makes it sound like some sort of medieval inn, but it’s simply a harmless quirk particular to this B&B.
We’re greeted at reception by Monty, who seems about 40 years too young to sport such a magnificent name.
He is friendly, attentive and seems genuinely delighted to be welcoming us to his hotel.
With his sing-song Perth accent, Monty walks and talks us through The Townhouse to our room, assuring us nothing would be too much trouble. What a charmer.
The room is cosy – Monty practically begs us to crank up the eco-heating – and stylish.
It has to go down as one of the more spotless locations we’ve ever visited, too.
You tend not to come back from a hotel stay singing the praises of the cleaning lady, so that’s all the more reason for The Townhouse manager to give the domestic staff a wee pat on the back.
We dined that evening at the casual restaurant, which is located in the happy middle-ground between classy and stylish.
We slide into one of the spacious booths and order the fish and chips, and the murgh makhani Buttered Chicken.
The fish is fantastic – no bones, happily – with deceptively massive fresh chips, while the curry was reported to be the best my partner had tried outside of a proper Indian restaurant. Crikey.
Well rested, we decided to visit the nearby Red Deer Centre, home to all things, you guessed it, red deer.
Hand-feeding a majestic stag, with its antlers like spires, isn’t something you’ll quickly forget.
It fixed us with its soulful eyes as it gobbled down the kibble we’d been given.
At the Red Deer Centre you can book a Mountain Safari, an epic Land Rover drive round the nearby peaks. Our host and driver is an amusing and informative kilted Englishman who takes us on an epic excursion into the moody and magnificent countryside.
After reaching 1,000ft we stop and declare Scotland could be the most beautiful country on earth, but then we climb to 2,000ft and all doubt disappears. The perfect whaleback of Schiehallion, one of our most beautiful Munros, is clad in sloping clouds in the near distance. We had to remember to pick our jaws up when we left.
The Mountain Safari culminates in a trip to a pleasant bothy, where there may or may not have been whisky and shortbread taken.
It’s £40 per person, but if you think about it that’s three trips to the cinema to see a clutch of movies you’ll forget in a few days, versus an extraordinary day in the mountains of Tayside.
Glen Lyon, stretching off to the west, was called “the longest, loneliest, loveliest glen in Scotland” by Sir Walter Scott, no less.
Although he might have added “but remember to bring gloves and sensible shoes if you’re up any of those hills”, too. A pair of city boy Adidas sambas just won’t cut it, I can assure you.
Nothing takes it out of you like mountain air – even if a Land Rover was doing all the work – so we return to Monty and the comfort of The Townhouse.
There’s only one question, then, and it was first posed by Rabbie 231 years ago.
Will ye go to the Birks of Aberfeldy?
The Townhouse Aberfeldy’s bed and breakfast rates start from £89 (townhouseaberfeldy.co.uk).
The Red Deer Centre’s Mountain Safari costs £40 per person (£25 for children) for a two-and-a-half-hour trip.
Highland Safaris at Dull, Aberfeldy (www.highlandsafaris.net) can be contacted on 01887 820071. It runs daily Mountain Safaris, with its Red Deer Centre also open every day.