Dunkeld, Perthshire

Last Saturday was a gorgeous day, unseasonally warm for early April and we drove up to Dunkeld again. After having lunch at Palmerston’s and having a poke around a wee antiques shop and an unexpected church jumble sale – where I bought a big bag of tapestry wool (when will you use it? said Jack) and some cute wee individual Pyrex dishes, we set off for a walk around the outskirts of the town. So we walked through the gateway below which is at the beginning of a long driveway leading to a hotel in beautiful surroundings.

Dunkeld

As you near the hotel they have a boat planter full of spring flowers and an ‘angler’ catching a wooden fish.

Dunkeld

Perthshire or Perth and Kinross as I think the county is called now (why do they have to keep changing names?) is well known for beautiful trees and some of the ones around here are quite historic. As you can see from the ‘hills’ of earth on the bottom left hand of the photo the moles have been hard at work!

Dunkeld

As the walk goes uphill towards the end you end up quite high above the River Tay.
Dunkeld

It looked really placid from a distance but when you are close up it’s really fast flowing.
Dunkeld

This is a circular walk and it leads you back into the centre of Dunkeld, straight to the cathedral, you can see images of it here.

Beatrix Potter visited Dunkeld and the neighbouring village of Birnam every summer with her parents for years and was inspired to write some of her stories here. She also took up the study of fungi and painted beautiful specimens she had collected, unfortunately as a woman she wasn’t taken seriously by the men in charge of such sciences. There is a Beatrix Potter Exhibition and Garden at the Birnam Arts and Conference Centre which displays some of her botanical drawings. Birnam and Dunkeld more or less run into each other but are separated by the river.

There’s also the nearby Birnam Oak which is all that is left of the Birnam Wood of Shakespeare’s Macbeth fame, but I’ll save that for another post.

The River Tay

River Tay

One of the first things we did when Peggy got here was to take her to visit the author and farmer James Oswald at his very remote farm on the edge of Fife. The yellow patches which you can see in the photos are fields of oilseed rape, a very lucrative crop for the farmers but seen close up they can be painful on the eyes and on a hot day (if we get any) the smell is rather overpoweringly sweet.

River Tay

These photos are of the view which he gets from the new house which he is having built. It’s a lovely area but so remote that we thought we had somehow taken a wrong turning as he lives miles down a farm track, right on the edge of Fife. As it happens the view over the nearby River Tay is of Perthshire or Perth and Kinross as I think they are calling it nowadays. Our youngest son lives in that part of Perthshire, where the scenery is much more beautiful than anything in Fife, in my opinion.

River Tay and Fife farmland

If you want to see some of the animals in James Oswald’s farm you can look at this post I did earlier.

A Farm in Fife

sheep and lambs

You might know that Peggy of Peggy Ann’s Post is staying with me at the moment and one of the places she really wanted to visit is the farm in Fife where the Scottish crime author James Oswald breeds Highland cattle and sheep, so that was one of our first ports of call.
lambs

Almost all of the sheep had had their lambs recently and they were happily doing sheepish stuff in a large field, but there were a few lambs and sheep which were being kept in a sort of creche consisting of a large open ended poly tunnel which keeps the worst of the weather off them but allows them to have the benefit of fresh air.

lambs and sheep

Some of the lambs had been abandoned by their mums and others were there because their mums didn’t have enough milk for them. One wee lamb had been lying at an awkward angle inside his mum and so he was born with distorted front legs but they seem to be straightening out as he grows although I think they’re still a wee bit swollen.

lamb
There are also a few big fat sheep in with the lambs, a couple of them are past their due date for giving birth, ladies in waiting!

James kindly took time out of his busy life to drive us to the field where his ‘coos’ were busy munching away. I think everybody loves Highland cattle and I remember a time when they were really quite rare, but they are becoming more common now, partly because they are so placid. They backed away from us when we went into their field but when they realised we weren’t a threat to them they settled down and became quite interested in us I think. Some of the cows are around 15 years old and he knows them from birth so I suppose they’re like part of the family. The cow on the far right of the first photo looks rather comical as it looks like it has a set of horns front and back like a pushmi-pullyu.

Highland cattle

James Oswald and Peggy

James gives all his cows names and there are several generations of them in this field. People tend to think of Highland cows as being red haired but some of them are sort of honey blonde and even black. The cow which he called Catriona has black hair, I couldn’t help thinking that she should have been a redhead. The females seem to be kept for breeding but I suspect the males which are born have a somewhat shorter life. James Oswald says he would never want to give up on his animals to concentrate solely on his writing.

Highland cows

Highland cow
The farm’s location is wonderful, what a view he has from his front window, which looks right over the River Tay to Perthshire, or should I say Perth and Kinross nowadays? But I’ll show you that in another blogpost.

A Saltire in Perthshire – a portent?

We were driving in Perthshire one day last week and I spotted a Saltire in the sky! You might have heard of how Scotland’s flag (the Saltire) came to be a blue background with a white Saint Andrew’s cross on it, if not then you can read about it here.

Anyway, below is a photo of last week’s Saltire. Is it an omen for the independence referendum I wonder? I took the photo through the windscreen as Jack was driving along so it isn’t nearly as clear as it looked on the day.

A Saltire?

Oh all right, it probably is just two jet trails crossing the sky, but you never know, it might be an omen!

a saltire  from bridge

I took the photo above just a few minutes later as we were driving across the Friarton Bridge over the River Tay, just south of Perth. You can still just see the cross in the sky.

Perth, Scotland

Whenever I Google Perth the one in Australia pops up but it’s the original one which we visit. I was looking for secondhand bookshops and looking at a map thinking – I don’t recognise anything here, no wonder, it was in the Antipodes. And if you’re interested, the Oxfam bookshop seems to be the only secondhand one in Perth.

Perth is one of the places we’ve been looking at with a view to moving there, it’s a city, but quite a small one and is close to some fantastic countryside. The only worry is that the place is prone to flooding. The photo above is of the River Tay and it flows past the High Street. As you can see, it was a lovely blue sky day when I took this one last Friday.

They have spent loads of money on a flood defence system which seems to be working. The whole riverside has been done up and looks very smart, modern but stylish.

The above photo is a close up of one of the bridges at the top of the Perth High Street area. Although we like Perth we decided against moving there, we looked at four or five houses which were quite nice but they were all located close to something called ‘The Lade’ which when we were there was a fairly menacing small river. One of the houses was just about 10 yards away from it and I could imagine that The Lade might be a frequent visitor to the house. I was assured that this wouldn’t happen but I know that in heavy rain I would just worry my head off about being inundated by it.

The photo above is of the top of the High Street, before you get to the shops and the River Tay is just opposite this building.

The photo above is of a pedestrian precinct just off the High Street, it was about 4 o’clock when I took this photo. It’s a strange thing but in Perth all the shoppers disappear home very early. At the end of the street you can just see the Salutation Hotel, Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed there when they were planning the 1745 Rebellion.

Above is a close up of the hotel, which is in need of a bit of buffing up before the tourist season begins, if you ask me. I’ve been told that it’s very nice inside though.

The photo below is of the other side of the River Tay. I took all of the river photographs within a very short distance of each other, just pointing the camera in different directions. It’s a lovely riverside I think, but the houses that we viewed weren’t tempting enough to make us want to live there. We’ll just keep Perth as a great place to visit for a day out.

Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland

When I woke up on Sunday morning and realised that it was a dead dreich day (in other words – miserably grey, damp day) – I was really glad that we had grabbed a hold of the sunshine of the previous day and gone for a drive up north of Perth to Dunkeld. It’s one of my favourite destinations. This is a photo of the High Street, taken from the middle of the bridge over the River Tay.

Dunkeld from bridge

There’s not a lot there shop-wise, which suits me fine as I’m happier looking at scenery than ‘stuff’, but we had a wander around the wee town anyway, I decided that I didn’t need a lovely old framed print, so I didn’t buy it and so didn’t help out the country’s economy, but on the other hand – I helped our economy!

The photo below is of the River Tay, taken from the middle of the bridge again, looking south. As you can see, the trees aren’t even showing a haze of green at the moment, and who could blame them for keeping their tender parts tucked away from the cold wind.

River Tay at Dunkeld

And the photo below is looking along the river towards the north.

aR Tay North

We walked along the riverbank for a wee while and this was the best photo I could get of the bridge through the trees.

abridge through trees

So that was Dunkeld, we climbed a hill to have a look at the war memorial of course, and I thought to myself – maybe Dunkeld would be a nice place to move to. But on the way back to Fife I noticed a roadsign which said Edinburgh 56 miles – and that seems an awful long way from civilisation to me, so it put me right off the idea. The search continues!

Newburgh, Fife, Scotland

Last Saturday was a lovely day and as we tend to think that every good day should be treasured and not taken for granted, we decided to visit Newburgh and have a walk around. We had been there before but had really not been further than the main street.

Newburgh panorama

We were kind of thinking that it might be a possibility as a place to retire to but on second thoughts it’s just too remote and far from what I regard as civilization (Glasgow) even further north and no nearer the west. If you take a look here you’ll see that it’s right at the opposite end of the county from Kirkcaldy and is on the River Tay. The riverside is well maintained with a nice picnic area and some lovely trees.

Trees on bank of River Tay at Newburgh

I was quite impressed with the place, they had obviously had a bit of a shindig in the community centre for the Royal Wedding the day before. So I think there must be a good community spirit there. The locals seemed to be friendly which is very unusual in Fife and Fifers are quite happy to admit that themselves. The saying in Scotland is that ‘It takes a lang spoon tae sup with a Fifer’. In other places the word Fifer is replaced by Devil!

Yachts on River Tay 2

The town is surrounded by quite nice hills and the River Tay is well used by local yachtsmen, which looked good fun. The Tay is looking manky at the moment or maybe it’s always like that there, in which case the city of Perth must be responsible for the muck because at Dunkeld which is north of Perth the Tay is lovely and clear.

Yachts on River Tay 1

So, the hunt continues!

Dunkeld Bridge and the River Tay

Bridge over Tay at Dunkeld

We parked the car at the Loch of the Lowes, intending to go for a good long walk around the loch, but it turned out that you can’t do that. We ended up walking to Dunkeld from there, which was a first for us. We thought that we were never going to get to the town, it seemed a lot further away than the signposts stated, I think they must have been country miles!

Anyway, by the time we got to Dunkeld we were pretty tired and didn’t feel up to doing our usual river walk along the ‘silveryTay’, so we just had a sit down by the cathedral and had a bit of a rest before making the very steep climb over the hill to the car park at the Loch of the Lowes again. We didn’t see any birds flying about at all, never mind ospreys, just loads of bird-watchers.

As usual we had great intentions of going further north but never did get around to it during the two week long spring holiday, which went past in a flash. Never mind, this coming Good Friday is another holiday and then there’s the royal wedding holiday, then the May Bank holiday and just to make things even weirder, the Easter weather forecast is really good. How rare is that!