Tucked into the hills, on the banks of the River Tay, Aberfeldy is an attractive little town ideally situated for exploring the Perthshire glens.
Aberfeldy follows a typical Scottish pattern of a settlement at a natural route centre – or in this case a bridging point - the bridge being the ornate and handsome General Wade’s Bridge still spanning the River Tay. Wade built a series of roads for the easy movement of troops in the Highlands during the Jacobite period. This bridge was designed by the architect William Adam in 1733.
Though its activities have in the past included textile manufacturing, today, this well-resourced town is today mostly associated with whisky distilling. It is a popular stop-off for visitors who come for the local walks, to visit the converted water mill and distillery and to appreciate the community’s attractive setting in a bowl of hills. It is the key centre of the area known as Breadalbane – the ‘high grounds of Scotland’.
Accommodation in Aberfeldy:
Hotel accommodation is easy to find in Aberfeldy, Weem and along Strathtay. Aberfeldy has a very good range of guest house and B&B accommodation, some in rural settings near the river. There is a very wide choice of self catering properties both in and around the town, including attractive chalets overlooking Loch Tay. Both Aberfeldy and Kenmore have picturesquely sited caravan parks.
Above the town, the Birks of Aberfeldy walk is both popular and very scenic. Bolfracks, west of the town, has a fine garden with rare plants and spectacular views. Dewars World of Whisky offers tours and tastings. Both the Black Watch Monument, commemorating the regiment’s muster in 1740, and the Wade Bridge are to be noted on a stroll round town. The Scottish Crannog Centre is a unique re-creation of an Iron Age loch dwelling, built over the waters of Loch Tay near Kenmore.
With a range of interesting retail outlets in and around the town, such as Aberfeldy Watermill, House of Menzies and the Taymouth Courtyard at Kenmore, shopping is certainly an activity here. Angling on Loch Tay, the River Tay and nearby hill lochs is also important. White water rafting and kayaking is a feature of the Tay near Grandtully and there is a choice of activity operators within easy distance of Aberfeldy. The local golf course is laid out on both sides of the Tay, linked by a private bridge. Riding and trekking is also easy to find in the Aberfeldy area.
The poet Robert Burns’ tour of 1787 took him to the Den of Moness, where the Moness Burn plunges over a wooded gorge on its way to the River Tay below. The song the poet penned, ‘The Birks o’ Aberfeldy’, meant that this lovely spot would have this name ever after. Today, there is a (slightly spooky!) seated statue of the poet, and a plaque on the spot from where he viewed the woods and tumbling waters. A well-made path goes up and round the falls themselves. Reachable on foot from the centre of Aberfeldy – though there is also a car park above the town that makes the walk to the upper end of the gorge shorter. ‘Birks’ is Scots for birches and the area is an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
A fine 16th-century ‘Z-plan’ castle, part stronghold, part mansion house. Seat of the chiefs of the Clan Menzies for four centuries; visited by Bonnie Prince Charlie on his way to defeat at Culloden, 1746.
Venues such as the Crannog Centre and Castle Menzies host their own events programmes in the main season. The open cycling event, the Etape Caledonia follows on from the Highland Cycling Festival Big Day in mid-May. The Aberfeldy Agricultural Show and Highland Gathering is in August, and brings together the best of two traditions. Part of the Popular Perthshire Amber Festival running annually in late autumn uses the Scottish Crannog Centre at Kenmore.