Scenery, history and whisky make Perthshire a must

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Perthshire has a well-deserved reputation for amazing scenery, wonderful distilleries and some of Scotland’s most impressive castles.

Located right in the centre of Scotland, and easily accessible to all, it’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t find this area one of the most attractive in Europe.

For those who adore being close to water, Loch Tummel and Loch Tay as well as Perthshire’s many hill and moor lochs make idyllic spots to spend the day, where sailing, fishing and just admiring the surroundings can make you feel like you’ve stepped into a rural wonderland.

A great place to base yourself is the historic Moulin Hotel, a haven of Highland hospitality since 1695. It’s sited in the village square of Moulin, an ancient Scottish waypoint, just three-quarters of a mile away from the bustling tourist town of Pitlochry.

As a three-star, prices are reasonable rooms start from £77 on a B&B basis for a standard room.The Moulin’s on-site micro-brewery adds to the charm it boasts some great ales and you can’t help but unwind here.

The oldest part of the hotel is the original Moulin Inn, which opened in 1695, but here are 15 rooms in total, with a mixture of standard and superior categories. There’s also a self-catering annexe with three bedrooms, which is perfect for a group of up to six people.

Apart from the great ales it’s the food you’ll remember about the Moulin. Their restaurant offers imaginative dishes featuring the outstanding local produce.

Of course, you can always toast the chef with a fine whisky and in Perthshire there’s a lot of choice.

Nestling in a picturesque glen in the hills above Pitlochry is Scotland’s smallest distillery, Edradour. Tours are just £7.50 and offer a unique insight into the whisky-making process. Call the distillery on 01796 472 095 for times.

Blair Athol distillery is on the south side of Pitlochry itself. Though it’s now owned by the Diageo drinks giant, anyone who’s ever enjoyed a dram of Bell’s will find their tour of interest. Call 01796 482003 to book.

Meanwhile Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret, is situated just two miles outside Crieff where film star Ewan McGregor grew up their Famous Grouse Experience tour is £9.95. Call 01764 656565 to book.

If history of a different kind is your thing, Perthshire has plenty of it. Blair Castle, reputedly Scotland’s finest, is a day out in itself. Dating from 1269, it’s been the home of the Atholl family for over 700 years.

It is reputed to be the last castle in Britain to have been besieged. The forces of Bonnie Prince Charlie and those of the government both laid siege during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-46.

Queen Victoria stayed at the castle in 1844 and as an expression of her gratitude presented the Duke with Colours for his men, the Atholl Highlanders. They are still in existence today as the only remaining private army in Europe.

Blair Castle’s magnificent entrance hall, boasting an eye-watering display of ancient weaponry, suggests it’s a good idea to stay on their good side.

Travelling further afield is Castle Menzies, which is 30 minutes away in the car, but well worth a visit.

This 16th Century fortress is less flamboyant than Blair Castle but equally fascinating. Bonnie Prince Charlie himself stayed there on his way to Culloden and visitors can still see his bedroom. BBC TV’s The Beechgrove Garden has also played a key role in helping to restore the castle’s walled garden.

As the county town, it would be impossible to visit Perthshire without including Perth on your to-do list but don’t leave the area without a visit to Scone Palace.

Once the site of coronations for Scotland’s monarchs, 1,500 years ago Scone was the capital of the Picts and its history includes both Macbeth and Robert The Bruce.

The palace is the rightful home of the celebrated Stone of Destiny and there’s also spectacular art and antiques on display as well as superb grounds, a playpark for the kids and a celebrated tearoom.

Of course, Perthshire’s most stunning asset is its wonderful natural beauty. You’ll find the world’s tallest hedge at the picturesque village of Meikleour and a 5,000-year-old yew tree in the churchyard of Fortingall according to local legend Pontius Pilate was born in its shade.

That natural beauty is much in evidence at Gleneagles, which was recently crowned “the best golf resort in the world”.

There are 40 golf courses to choose from in Perthshire, but the three championship courses at Gleneagles are regarded among the finest anywhere. King James IV bought a set of clubs from a bow maker in Perth in 1502 and no doubt he’d have found the facilities fit for a monarch. But at prices beginning from £335 for a classic room, Gleneagles may have to wait for my Lottery win.

See infoperthshire.co.uk for details.

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