Waking up under the cosy canvas of my animal skin lined kata tipi the only sounds are the birds singing high in the trees above. I eke out of the tipi and am surrounded by the famously big trees of this Highland world, which are turning Autumnal glowing oranges and fiery reds. I light a campfire, cook some local bacon and free-range eggs, and plan the weekend. On the agenda are mountain biking, hiking and bountiful sightseeing. Welcome to Comrie Croft and the epic land that is Highland Perthshire.
Comrie Croft, an ‘eco campsite’ tucked between Crieff and Comrie, is as good as campsites get. There are 32 pitches. Some recline in the security of a level field right by all the facilities. Others hide in the thick of the hilly woods that offer more seclusion. Others still lie further up on a high meadow with views opening out over Strathearn. Then there are the quintet of Swedish kata tents (complete with wood burning stoves), Scotland’s best-stocked camping store, the excellent new Tea Garden café and on site mountain bike rental. The latter comes in handy later when I am battling the blue and seriously tricky red trails that stretch up the Croft’s hillside.
Pushing on from Comrie Croft is easy. You can drive, cycle or in the summer months take the Ring of Breadalbane, a brilliant brand new bus service that started this year that ferries people and bikes too around some of Highland Perthshire’s star attractions. And attractions there are plenty.
I loved the Scottish Crannog Centre. Here a boardwalk takes you right out into Loch Tay and back thousands of years to offer a unique insight into what life was like in these parts all those years ago. Demonstrations by guides in period costumes help conjure up a magical experience in this striking overwater stilt crannog. An even more family oriented time is on offer at Auchingarrich Wildlife Park, where my two wee girls were lost in a world of meerkat feeding and pony rides
Perhaps Highland Perthshire’s greatest attraction for me, though, is the great outdoors. Big Tree Country is at its finest in Autumn, a real riot of colour. You can appreciate all manner of arbour at the relaxed and family friendly Hermitage near Dunkeld or bash off into the mountains. I chose a serious hike on Ben Lawers, a beast of a mountain, which, at 1,214m, is higher than any peak in England or Wales. Ben Lawers should only be attempted by the well equipped and experienced, who can also push on to take in some of the other Munros up here in one long day.
It is all happening in the water in Highland Perthshire these days too. A flurry of operators can now set you up with some serious whitewater action in the River Tay or another of Perthshire’s lochs and rivers. I headed out with Nae Limits for rather unlikely sounding river tubing. This basically involved wedging myself in a wet suit into a giant rubber ring and flying off down the rapids. It was thrilling to see the horizon disappear in a wave of foaming water and I’ll admit I spent nearly as much time in the water as on my tube! Back at my kata the fire was already on when I got back and it was time to get cosy again in the famous forests of Highland Perthshire, the ideal setting for a thrilling, adventurous Autumn break.