Places to Visit in Scotland
- The Fair City of Perth
Perth is a vibrant modern city with a rural heart. Nestling in its verdant natural landscape, it's a thriving market town with an array of shops, coffee houses and excellent restaurants. There are several museums and art galleries, heritage walks, guided tours and local crafts. The compact town centre, with its largely traffic free High Street, can be explored on foot. Many of the streets retain their Georgian terraced houses and a feeling of restrained prosperity. The North and South Inch public parks, glorious floral displays and the mighty Tay (Britain's longest river, 120 miles long) frame the picture.
Kinnoull Hill and Branklyn Gardens
A good introduction to Perth is to climb Kinnoull Hill that dominates the eastern side of the city, rising steeply from the banks of Tay, with its watch tower (a latter-day folly) looking down the river. This is a tranquil haven with miles of grassy paths and nature trails. On a clear day there are magnificent views of the Carse of Gowrie and the river Tay, the graceful Friarton Bridge, Fife and the Lothians, The Ochils and Perthshire Highlands up to 50 miles distant.
On the way to or from Kinnoull Hill, don't miss Branklyn Gardens - one of the best 2-acre gardens in the country, with rare and unusual plants, dwarf rhododendrons, alpines and blue poppies. And also on the north bank of the river are Norrie Miller Park and Rodney Gardens - not just a lovely park beside the river Tay but full of interesting - and amusing - modern sculptures.
Dropping back down into the city there is ample opportunity to indulge in retail therapy - and admire the "street sculpture" installed by the city council. Around the High Street and St Johns Shopping Centre there are shops both old and new, trading in everything from antique jewellery, Scottish pearls, mirrors, lamps, fabrics to the latest designer clothes from the likes of Versace, Hugo Boss, Ralph Lauren and Carbone. For children's gifts, visit Guiscard which for 20 years has been selling every kind of teddy bear and doll, priced from £6 to £600 and also This Little Piggy, for beautifully decorated continental shoes in every colour.
McEwens department store has been at the centre of shopping in the city since 1868, a family business offering quality and service. A more recent addition is the Perth Farmers' Market, held on the first Saturday of every month next to the City Hall. More than 25 farmers sell products ranging from the famous local berries to exotic ostrich, wild boar and heather fed lamb.
A Cultured City
For those in search of a spot of culture, the Fergusson Gallery - a splendid neo-classical building which used to be a waterworks - has the most comprehensive collection of the works of Scottish Colourist painter and sculptor John Duncan Fergusson (1874-1961). The Perth Museum and Gallery is also worth a visit. On North Port is Fair Maid's House, the fictional home of Sir Walter Scott's heroine from his novel "The Fair Maid of Perth", later inspiring Bizet's opera. Perth Theatre has a fine reputation as one of Scotland's top repertory theatres, and the classic '30's cinema, "The Playhouse" still retains its Art Deco façade but is now a seven screen state of the art multiplex.
It is however worth getting out of the city to experience the surrounding heritage. Two miles away is the most famous and unmissable - Scone Palace, originally the seat of Government and one of the most historically important places in the country. Scone was the capital of the Pictish Kingdom in the 6th century and home of the Celtic Church. Kenneth MacAlpin united Scotland and in 838AD placed the stone of Scone on the Moot Hill, opposite the Palace entrance. This became the crowning place for all 42 Scottish Kings on the fabled Stone of Destiny, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce.
This Coronation stone was removed to Westminster Abbey by one of Scotland's most hated enemies, Edward 1, in 1296. It was only recently returned to Scotland and is now preserved at Edinburgh Castle. In 1651 the last coronation in Scotland took place when King Charles II was crowned by the Scots on the Moot Hill. Part of the church for this ceremony still remains.
Today the family home of the Earl of Mansfield, Scone Palace has magnificent collections of art, porcelain needlework and furniture, beautiful gardens stretching to 100 acres, full of roses, rhododendrons and bluebells, as well as strutting peacocks and highland cattle.
Perthshire is a sporting paradise especially for golfers with around 40 Golf courses, for the novice to the enthusiast, in idyllic parkland settings, scenic highland layouts and world famous courses, such as at Gleneagles.
Perth stands on one of the finest salmon fishing rivers in the country and this area is thus a mecca for the keen angler. The sport of kings still takes place at Perth Racecourse, situated near Palace Park. The oldest fixture is the Glorious Finale, held in the autumn each year. There are numerous activities for the athletic - mountain-biking, walking, horse-riding, canoeing, hang-gliding, flying lessons, river rafting, rock-climbing, water skiing and off-road driving - it's an adventure playground for everyone. And Perth is home to a Scottish Premier League side, named after its patron saint, St Johnstone.
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