A small resort town since Victorian times, Crieff is a good touring base for both Highlands and Lowlands.
Ranged along the south facing slopes of the Knock Hill and on a bridging point of the River Earn, Crieff in its cattle-dealing heyday in the 18th century must have had something of the air of a ‘Wild West’ town. Drovers and dealers gathered annually here at the ‘tryst’ and huge sums changed hands – making the little town in its day one of Scotland’s leading financial centres.
Though the railway helped to finish the cattle droving trade, its arrival in 1857 was a bonus to Crieff, already establishing itself as a tourist centre as the ‘capital of Strathearn’. Today, the long-established Crieff Hydro is still a very important employer in the town and Crieff still attracts visitors for much the same reason as those who came a century ago: pleasant walks, fine views, lots of things to do, plus an easy journey time to the heart of Scotland.
Accommodation in Crieff:
There is a range of hotel accommodation in Crieff, as well as further west in Strathearn, including Comrie and St Fillans. Similarly, guest house and B&B accommodation is easy to find in Crieff, as well as rural locations along the River Earn. Self catering accommodation offers plenty of choice throughout the area, as far west as Balquhidder, and including farmhouse and estate properties. Crieff, Comrie, St Fillans and Balquhidder all have caravan and camping parks.
A cluster of mostly retail-type attractions, including paperweight and pottery manufacturing, are to be found by the River Earn. The Glenturret Distillery, home of the Famous Grouse, is tucked away behind the town. A short distance away are other places of interest such as Drummond Castle Gardens, historic Innerpeffray Library, Scotland’s first free public lending library, and the Auchengarrich Wildlife Centre near Comrie.
There is an especially good Crieff path network – a leaflet is available, of which Lady Mary’s Walk and the Knock Hill are perhaps best known. Golf is popular, with two courses in the town. The River Earn has an active local angling club. There is also a riding centre. Further west, Lochearnhead is a noted watersports centre.
This is the visitor experience at Glenturret Distillery – the production tour, nosing and tasting bar, the marrying warehouse, shop, restaurant, award-winning film show that flies over Scotland, plus local walks and play areas for children. Glenturret is said to be Scotland’s oldest legal distillery.
Drummond Castle (private) sits on a ridge with a grand view looking south over this large formal garden. The formal design here dates back originally to the 17th century, reworked in early Victorian times and subsequently updated. It has terracing, topiary and a Victorian parterre, with a sundial centrepiece dating from 1630.
The town has a monthly Saturday market throughout the summer months. Crieff’s Annual Highland Games is held in August. South of the town, the Braco Agricultural Show takes place in July. The Johnny Walker Championship (golf event) takes place at nearby Gleneagles in late August. The Drovers Tryst is a walking festival held in October in and around the town. Perth is less than half an hour by car, and runs a full events programme.