Walks and Drives around
Blairgowrie—To Lornty and the Heughs— Round Knook-mahar- -Round the Golf
Course—Places of Interest near Blairgowrie—Distances from Blairgowrie—The
Royal Route— Blairgowrie to Dunkeld—To Alyth—To Coupar Angus.
To Lornty AND the Heughs.
ON a ramble up the river side
we enter Lower Mill Street from the Wellmeadow, at the Victoria Hotel.
Immediately before us, on a low-lying tract, are the Grain Mills, belonging
to the representatives of the late John Panton. Next to them, after passing
a jute store, are the buildings long known as the “Plash Mill,” now the
property and works of John Abercromby, mill right. Next is the “Muckle
Mill,” and on the north side of the road are Ericht Linen Works. On the
heights to the left are the Parish Manse and part of the Glebe, and further
up, on the summit, is “ Mount Zion ” — the Parish Kirk o’ Blair—the back
wall of which forms almost a plumb line to the side of a grassy wooded
ravine in which runs the Cuttle Burn. A short distance from this, the Ericht
rushes impetuously down a gorge, forming a cascade known as “The Keith.”
Tradition points out this as the scene of Cargill’s leap, when he was
pursued by the dragoons of Claverhouse. Pleasantly situated on the opposite
side is Linnkeith house, and further up, the residence and works of
Keithbank. We now pass through Oakbank, with its works, warehouses, and
workers’ dwellings, while the residence of the same name is seen nestling
among the trees on the high ground to the left. Near this is Ashbank, and on
the opposite side of the river the house and works of Bramblebank. We now
pass Brooklinn, with its mill standing on the face of the ravine of Lornty,
at its junction with the Ericht. Turning by a curve to the left, the road
leads us to Lornty Bridge, where the north road from the “Cross” of Blair,
up by the “ Hill ” and Burnhead, joins in. The bridge of Lornty has been
three times built, one structure over the other—the lowest one attributed to
the Romans about the year 80. Two nice walks branch off here—one on each
side of the Lornty. The one on the left leads past Lornty Cottage and the
old mill of Lornty, through the policies of old Lornty House on to the Dam
and Falls. The Dam has been artificially constructed for storage of water to
Lornty Mills. Beyond this, the walk ascends gradually the rugged heights,
and abruptly descends to the water’s edge, where a rustic seat has been
erected overlooking the placid waters of the Dam. The walk on the north side
leads up to “Prince Charlie’s Well ” and the old castles of Glasclune and
Having crossed the bridge and
traversed a very rough road for about a fourth of a-mile, we strike a path
to the right, and pursue our way to the “Heughs.” The track is a zig-zag but
well-beaten one, through a deep hollow, then ascending a steep ridge to a
grassy flat, where a rustic seat enables the traveller to rest. Near this is
the Heugh mineral well, possessed of valuable therapeiitifc medicinal
properties. The walk may be continued up the acclivity to the summit of the
“Heughs,” turning to the right and gradually descending along the crest till
we enter on the highway at Bridge of Craighall, crossing which and pursuing
our way southwards, we pass through Westfields and Rattray, and re-enter
Blairgowrie at the Bridge.
A pleasant walk may be had
from the Cross of Blair, ascending the Hill by the Parish Manse and the Hill
Kirk, through Hill Terrace—the High Street of Blairgowrie of 200 years
ago—and turning to the right at Stormont Lodge, cross bridge over the Cuttle
Burn, on to the “Board of Health.” A fine stretch of country is here brought
into view, from Mount Blair in the north to Kinpurnie in the south, and
Benachally in the west. Several seats have been erected to allow the
traveller to enjoy the scenes at his leisure.
The road to the right leads
down to Lornty, passing several gigantic specimens of beech trees. We pursue
the Knockie Road to the left, passing Kuockie Quarry. Right down below us,
stretching east and west, is the ravine of Lornty, while away to the north
are the Carnashic Woods and Muir of Cochrage. To the west are the lochs of
the Stormont and the hills around Dmikekt By a keen eye a distant view of
Glasclune Castle may be had. Entering a wicket gate, we turn southwards,
cross the summit of Knockie, and descend by Maryfield and Newton Castle to
the town. Splendid views of the Howe of Strathmore may be had from various
points of vantage on the descent.
Round the Golf Course.
This is the favourite Sunday
promenade during the summer season. Leaving the town by the south at
Bankhead, we pass the old Tollhouse and the entrance to Altamont House.
Close by is Blairgowrie Quarry, producing a hard rough stone of gravelly
formation. To the left is the home farm of Blairgowrie, with the Mansion
House and policies of the same—the residence of the Superior of the town.
This demesne was built n 1792, and is pleasantly situated. For upwards of
half-a-mile from the Toll, southwards on the left, the path is delightfully
shaded by the overhanging branches of the trees which, when in full leaf,
presents a glorious appearance. Woodlands House on the right marks the site
where the “Bloody” Cumberland camped on his way to Culloden. Adjoining this
is Heathpark (built by Thomas Clark, the famous Edinburgh publisher), and
Brownsville, both desirable residences. After passing through the muirland
hamlet known as the “ Green Tree we come to the cross roads at Rosemount
Station. The main road leads south-east to Coupar Angus and Dundee. The road
to the left leads to Rosemount House, Park-head, and Coupar Grange, also to
the "Welton" and up the riverside to Blairgowrie. The road to the right
leads west to the Golf Course and “Dark Fas. By the great storm of November,
1S73, a large tract of Rosemount Wood was blown down, but the road is still
lined with a row of beautiful silver birches which withstood the storm.
About half-a-mile west is the
Golf Course, laid out in 1889, which extends on to the Perth Road near
“Dry-briggs” at Druidsmere. Coming to the “Dark Fa’s” we join the main road
leading from Blair to Perth via Cargill, and turning to the right, facing
north, pass by the Cemetery and Falcon House. To the left, at a distance, is
the pretty little hamlet of Muirton of Ardblair —a frequent and well-known
resort of artists and lovers of the picturesque. The Essendy Road branches
off here, leading to Lethendy, Delvine, and Dunkeld, passing the Druidical
Circle about a mile down. From Cleekerinn on the left a fine view is had of
the slope on which the town of Blair is situated.
There are many other pleasant
and favourite walks in the immediate neighbourhood, of which mention might
be made, as “Along the Loon Braes,” “Round the Coontlie,” “The Hatton Hill,”
“Castle Hill,” the “Gallon bank,' down by “The Welton,” &c., &c.
Places of Interest near
The Hatton Hill, 2 miles
east, through Rattray.
The Castle Hill, 2 miles south-east, through Rattray.
Craighall, 3 miles north, through Rattray.
The Heughs, 2 miles north, by Oakbank.
Glasclune Castle, 2 miles north, by Maryfield.
Newton Castle, at the back of the town.
Ardblair Castle, 1 mile west, via Dunkeld.
Marlee Loch, 2 miles west, via Dunkeld.
Druidical Circle, 1 mile west, Essendy.
Muirton of Ardblair, 1 mile south-west.
Golf Course, lú miles south.
Stormont Loch, 2 miles south.
Beech Hedge, miles south, via Meikleour.
Distances from Blairgowrie.
The Royal Route.
Before the extension of the
railway system by Aberdeen to Ballater, the road from Blairgowrie to
Glenshee and Braemar was on two occasions taken by Her Majesty the Queen,
Prince Consort, and suite, on their way to Balmoral.
This was in the years 1842
and 1857; but since then many other Royal personages have journeyed thereon,
hence its term, “The Royal Route.”
On leaving Blairgowrie the
road crosses the Ericht by a handsome bridge, up the Boat Brae, and, turning
to the left, we enter Balmoral Road, passing some beautiful cottages and
villas. Now and again we have a view of the Heughs of Mause. Passiug the
entrance to Craighall House, we come to the Bridge. It was built in 1810,
and is very passable, but the accesses to it are abrupt and dangerous. In
the olden days vehicles and passengers to the north had to ford the river by
what was known as the “ Rough Ford.” The building of the bridge was followed
by an advantageous and better executed work in the cutting of a new road to
Cally, several miles of the way taking a lower altitude and escaping the
steep ascent of the old road up by Mause. The road is cut along the face of
the left side of the Ericht, and at openings of the trees brings the eye in
more immediate command of the opposite side, with views of the famed house
of Craighall. As we journey on for nearly a mile, the scenery is of the most
romantic and magnificent description, and can scarcely be excelled, not only
as an enchanting, but a perfect embodiment of all that constitutes the
essential elements of beauty and grandeur. Wood, water, chasm, and rock are
finely intermingled in all the light and shade so dear to the lover of
Nature in her grandest displays of panoramic sublimity. Through a deep
ravine of savage rook and crag, rugged and bare, or clothed with dense
foliage of hazel and oak coppice, here and there relieved by tall and
graceful trees, imparting to the view the most delightful sylvan beauty,
dark and sullen flows the “ireful” river. In the depth of its abyss the
water rushes along its stony bed, filling the solitude with a ceaseless
roar. To those who wish to have the incomparable scene at its best, let them
go to its enjoyment during the summer months when it is decked by Nature in
the mantle of green. Passing onw ard we round the heights of Mause, losing
the track of the river and its rocky banks, while a new panorama is exposed
to view. On the other side of the river, near the crest, is Ramia-gulzion,
and almost below, near the river side, on a beautiful site, amid charming
surroundings, stands Glen-ericht House.
A former proprietor of this
estate, Sir William Chalmers, a Waterloo veteran, was knighted by the Queen
on her first journey north this route to Balmoral in 1812.
A little further on is the
Barony of Cally, which at one time included a considerable extent of
country, from the revenues of which a monastery and nunnery connected with
Dunkeld Cathedral were maintained. There were wont to be two Chapels in the
Barony— one with burying-ground at Wester Cally, which has disappeared, and
the other at Steps of Cally. This one had also a burial-place attached,
which has been put in order and is still used.
Bridge of Cally, from the
stone bridge spanning the Ardle, may be regarded as a leading entrance to
the Highland Glens. The main road splits off into two here. One, striking to
the right, leads to Clayquhat anti Ashmore; to Persie; up the Blacksater and
Glen-shee to the Spittal of Glenshee; then up Glen Beg, round the Devil’s
Elbow, over the Cairuwell (3030 ft.), and down Glen Clunie to Braemar,
distant from Blairgowrie, 35 miles. The other road strikes off to the left
up Strathardle, passing many desirable shooting lodges and mansions —
Blackcraig with its house-bridge and castellated mansion, Woodhill, &c.—on
through Ballintuim to Kirkmichael, the capital of Strathardle, distant from
Blairgowrie, 13 miles. The read continues onwards through Enockdhu, along
Glenbrierachau. over the hill at Badvo, and down through Moulin to Pitlochry.
Bridge of Cally.
Blairgowrie to Dunkeld.
Distance by the Upper
Distance by the Lower Stormont—13 miles.
Proceeding westward from the
Cross of Blairgowrie we diverge to the right at Stormont Inn. Near by are
the extensive agricultural engineering works of J. Bisset & Sons, Ltd.
Beautifully situated is Ardblair Castle, an old fortress, of date 1668, but
recently restored and modernised. The Rae Loch, or Loch of the Leys, is
immediately to the west, while half-a-mile to the north is Craig Roman (600
ft.) A short distance further on are the Parish Church and School of
Kinlocli, and Marlee Hotel, and to the left are Marlee House and homestead.
A field-breadth to the south is Marlee Loch, a beautiful sheet of water,
which abounds in trout, perch, and pike. Proceeding along, we pass on our
right Kinloch House and the entrances leading to the mansions of Ballied and
Logie. At the double turu of the road we pass Clunie Cottage on the left,
with the farms of Tullyneddie on the right. We now approach Clunie Loch,
having in its centre an island, on which, it is alleged, the Adrniiable
Crichton was born. The scenery around the loch is extremely beautiful. On
the high ground to the north of the loch is Porneth House. Just below the
road and two miles further on is the residence of Laighwood. Near this part,
we observe to the right Benachally (1594 ft.) A short distance from it is St
Crux Well, to which pilgrimages were wont to be made. We now pass a
succession of very beautiful lochs ith a rich diversity of scenery—Lochs
Butterstone, the Lowes, and Craiglush —and, turning abruptly to the left,
strike south-east down hill to Dunkeld.
This town occupies a site of
rare beauty on the banks of the Tay, and is surrounded by hills—one the
classic Birnam (1580 ft.) and another Craig-y-Barns, both well worth
ascending. There are man}- interesting sights in this quaint old town worthy
of a visit.
The road from Dunkeld to
Blairgowrie by the Lower Stormont is also famed for its scenery. For a few
miles after leaving Dunkeld the road winds along the romantic banks of the
Close to the road is the
mansion-house of Stenton, with Stenton Craig to the north, while on the
other side of the river may be seen, embosomed amid the trees, the old and
new Castles of Murthly. In a short time we pass through Caputh and
Spittalfleld, the latter one of the prettiest villages in Perthshire. Near
by is the mansion-house of Delvine, with traces of a Roman station. The
picturesque Tower of Lethendy may be seen to the north-east. The next place
of interest along the route is the charming village of Meikleour, which was
in former times a place of considerable importance. In the middle of the
village stands the Market Cross, bearing date lfi98, in good preservation.
In a field almost opposite is the “ Tron ” of former days, with an iron
necklet, doubtless used as “ the jouggs.” The entrance to the mansion of
Meikleour is directly off the Market Square.
On this estate, alongside the
main road from Blairgowrie to Perth, is the famous “Beech Hedge,” one of the
arboreal wonders of the world. The length of the hedge is about 580 yards,
and it has an average height of SIC feet. It is believed to have been
planted in 1746. Fo over ha -a-century the hedge has been regularly cut on
the side next the road, in order to 'keep the road clear and give to the row
a truly hedge-like character. The operation of pruning is carried out every
five years, and, from the height and extent of the hedge, the work is of no
ordinary labour. Turning to the left, the road passes through the woods of
Meikleour, up by and tluougl the woods of Carsie to the Muir of Blair. On
the right may be seen the Golf Course, and on the left the beautiful
residence of Druidsmere. Rounding the bend of the road at “Dark Fa’s,” and
passing the Cemetery and Falcon House, we enter the west end of the town.
Pretty little cottages and villas dot the side of the road from Falcon House
right in for nearly half-a -mile.
On the road which strikes off
to the west at Falcon House, about half-a-mile away, is a Druidical Circle,
arranged as a hexagon, with a block of stone at each angle point. The road
passes directly through the centre of two opposite sides. To the south is
the village of Muirton of Ardblair, where a famous Admiral in the Russian
service was born about the year 176!).
Blairgowrie to Alyth, &c.
Crossing the Bridge of Blair
we climb the Boat Brae, in Rattray, at the top of which the road divides,
one leading off to the left to Kirkmichael and Glenshee, the other to Alyth,
Kirriemuir, &c. We pursue our way along the latter to the Cross of Old
Rattray. Another road branches off to the left to Alyth and Glenisla. About
half-a-mile along this road is the mansion of Parkhill, commanding a
magnificent view of the Valley of Strathmore. Getting clear out of Old
Rattray, in a short time we pass through Bevershire, a small village near
the Littleton of Rattray. Immediately east of this the road descends and
again ascends the Hollymill Brae. Driving along this road eastwards a very
fine vieAV is had of the Howe of Strathmore, which has been compared to the
scenery along the banks of the Rhine.
About 5 miles east from Blair
is the town of Alyth, the old part of which is irregularly built on a steep
declivity of the Grampians. Several miles to the northeast are the “ Reekie
Linn,’ the Den of Airlie, and Airlie Castle, the ancient seat of the
Ogilvies, Earls of Airlie —“The Bonnie Iloose o’ Airlie” of Jacobite song.
Southeast from Blair about 7 miles is Meigle, a small village, and seat of a
Presbytery. In the churchyard are several upright pillars adorned with
emblematical figures, which are of great interest, particularly to
This route goes down Reform
Street, along to the right at Bankhead, and, turning to the left at foot of
William Street, enters on the Coupar Angus Road at the old tollhouse. A
short distance down is the entrance to Altamont House on the right and that
to Blairgowrie House on the left. The road leads down a fine stretch to
Rosemount Station, past several interesting residences, in a district almost
given up to the cultivation of that most luscious of all fruits—the
strawberry. The road crosses the railway at Rosemount Station, goes away
south-east by Moorfield, Mayriggs, Couttie, and Bridge of Isla, to Coupar
Angus, distant from Blairgowrie about 4| miles. The chief attraction of this
place is the ruins of the once-famous abbey of St Benedict, founded with
great ceremony on Sunday, 12th July, 1164, by King Malcolm IV. A fragment
only of this building now remains, having survived the storm of iconoclastic
fury which broke over Scotland at the Reformation.