Aberfeldy (Gaelic: Obar Pheallaidh) is a small town in Perth and Kinross in North East Scotland. That county straddles the Highland / Lowland divide, and Aberfeldy is scenically very much in the central Highlands. Set on the banks of the River Tay, it grew up as a resort town in the 19th C. Since the 20th C the area has been mined for baryte, an ingredient of drill fluid in the oil industry, but it's small scale and hasn't marred the scenery.
Near Aberfeldy you can also visit the village of Dull. Because someone has to.
Stagecoach Bus 23 / 27 runs hourly M-Sat from Perth via Birnam and Dunkeld to Aberfeldy, 90 mins. Sunday there's only one morning bus in and one evening bus out.
Had you seen these roads before they were made
You would lift up your hands and bless General Wade
You can walk to the Castle and up the Birks. Dull is three miles away and you need a car to reach the path for Schiehallion ten miles away.
Sweeney's Bus 91 plies between Aberfeldy and Kenmore twice M-F around 09:00 and 16:00. It usually runs along the main road and takes 15 min, but some days makes a loop through Weem, Dull, Coshieville, Fortingall and Fearnan to Kenmore. Stagecoach Bus 892 similarly makes an occasional school run up the B-road from Aberfeldy to Coshieville then returns the same way.
- 1 Wade's Bridge. Roads in the Highlands at the start of the 18th C were often little better than cattle tracks, struggling through fords and bogs. In 1715 the Jacobite rebellion rocked the government - it was quashed, but showed the need to be able to move troops swiftly into troublesome districts. General George Wade (1673-1748), as Scotland's military commander, set about building better roads and bridges. The Crieff to Dalnarcardoch road, built in 1730, crossed the Tay at Aberfeldy by this impressive bridge. Designed by William Adam, it was the most expensive structure in the whole network, and was only completed in 1734. When Wade retired, his assistant Major William Caulfeild took over, building many later roads that Wade's name has attached to, and coining the lines quoted above. Meanwhile the Jacobites rebelled again, and this time got as far south as Derby: bless these new roads!
- 2 Plastic Footbridge over the River Tay links two sections of the golf course. The name is an ironic nod to the great McGonagall, who wrote numerous doggerel odes about the Tay and much else, but his poem about Aberfeldy is sublimely awful even by his exacting standards.
- 3 Castle Menzies, Weem PH15 2JD (B846 1.5 miles west of Aberfeldy). Apr-Oct M-Sa 10:30-17:00, Su 14:00-17:00. Fine 16th C castle, restored in the 20th C (this work continues), transitional in style between a defensive fortress and a decorative chateau. "The man who would be king": Bonnie Prince Charlie stayed here in 1746, and the deposed Maharajah of the Sikh Empire was in residence 1855-58. £6.
- The League of Extraordinary Communities: well one of them, not to overdo the excitement. Dull is a tiny farming community straggling along the B846 three miles west of Aberfeldy. There was a monastery in the 7th C; various associated carvings and grave slabs are now in the NMS in Edinburgh. There's nothing here nowadays. But in 2012 Dull began trading on its name, linking up with the town of Boring near Portland Oregon. You can image the T-shirts, the photo-ops, the mugs. In 2013 the town of Bland, New South Wales got in on the act, so these three market themselves as the "League of Extraordinary Communities" of Dull, Boring and Bland. Take a photo of the village sign, press "share", your work here is done.
- Glen Lyon is a very scenic but little-visited glen 8 miles west of Aberfeldy. Follow B846 beyond Dull, passing Comrie Castle (the masonry stump of a 16th C tower house) to Coshieville. Here the B-road climbs north out of the valley towards Schiehallion, Loch Tummel and Loch Rannoch, while a narrow lane stays along the River Lyon. It winds through Fortingall, where the yew tree in the graveyard is believed to be well over 2000 years old, but there is no sense to be made of the hoaky legend that Pontius Pilate was born here. The lane continues upstream for many a lonely mile behind Ben Lawers, before eventually looping south over the hills to rejoin the main road at Killin at the head of Loch Tay.
- A827 west of Aberfeldy stays alongside the River Tay, reaching Loch Tay at the village of 4 Kenmore. April-Oct there are boat trips by Loch Tay Safaris. A827 continues west along the sunlit north bank of the loch, with access to Ben Lawers. A narrow, gloomy, tree-dripping lane follows the south bank, and within half a mile reaches the Scottish Crannog Centre. Iron Age dwellers in Scotland and across Europe often dwelt in stilt-houses in lakes, and this is a reconstruction of one such crannog. It's open daily 10:00-16:00.
- Birks Cinema in town centre is a restored Art Deco building with films and other entertainment. The cafe is open daily.
- Walk the 1 Birks O'Aberfeldy, the birch-filled glen south of the village that inspired the poem by Robert Burns. The path leads up to the Falls of Moness.
- Find 2 St David's Well if you can, hidden in the woods above Weem off B846. The nearby rocks have cup-and-ring carvings: some may be prehistoric, but probably most are modern replicas.
- Climb Schiehallion, sometimes called "The Mount Fuji of Scotland" for its near-perfect cone and isolation from other peaks. It's a Munro of 1083 m / 3553 ft which looks volcanic but is quartzite polished by glaciation. Its shape made its volume easy to calculate, so in 1774 it was used to estimate the earth's mass and gravity by the deflection of a nearby pendulum. It's a popular ascent, usually from the car park at Brae of Foss, a 3 mile trail.
- Climb Ben Lawers, a Munro of 1214 m / 3983 ft brooding over Loch Tay, with alpine / arctic habitat on its upper slopes. Early geologists supposed that after a first volcanic phase of the earth's formation, later rocks were laid down by sedimentation. But they found more and more awkward anomalies, and at Ben Lawers they discovered that the entire sequence of strata was inverted - which turned conventional wisdom on its head. The path up the mountain is straightforward, from the NTS car park you ascend via the lesser peak of Beinn Ghlas.
- White-water rafting along the Tay and Tummel, both equally cold if you get soaked. The Rafting Company (+44 1887 829292) are in town centre; Splash (+44 1887 829706) are along Dunkeld Rd, with another base in Glasgow.
- Golf: Aberfeldy Golf Club is next to the bridge. The yellow-tee course is 5376 yards, par 68, and a round costs only £15.
- 3 Highland Safaris, off B846, Dull PH15 2JQ, ☏ . Daily 09:00-17:00. Lively informative off-road wildlife tours. Costs and timings vary, eg the mountain safari is a 2-3 hr trip for £45 pp. Also has red deer centre and café.
- Atholl & Breadalbane Highland Gathering is held in mid-August at Wades Park Aberfeldy. The next event is Sat 8 Aug 2020.
- Kenmore Highland Games are in early July in that village. The 2020 event was cancelled so the next is probably Wed 7 July 2021, tbc.
- Coop food and filling station in town centre is open daily 06:00-23:00.
- Karelia House is a craft shop on the back lane by the confluence of the Tay and Lyon rivers. It's open M-F 09:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-16:00.
- 1 KB's Italian Kitchen, 25A Dunkeld Street PH15 2AA, ☏ . Apr-Oct M-Sa 11:00-13:30 & 17:00-21:00, Su 17:00-21:00. Friendly little Italian place, closes in winter. Mains £10-£15.
- Also along the main street are The Croft restaurant, Three Lemons and Chillies.
- Fountain Bar and Black Watch Inn are along the main street.
- 1 Aberfeldy Distillery, Aberfeldy PH15 2EB (A827 just east of village). M-Sa 10:00-16:00. Whisky distillery, opened in 1898, producing some single malts but mostly for blending into Dewar's Whisky. In February production is suspended for annual maintenance, visitors are still welcome but tours are amended. Tour £10.50.
- OYO Breadalbane Arms in town centre is good value for £40 a night if you get a clean room. Too many visitors don't, and the place is not well-run.
- Aberfeldy Caravan Park, Dunkeld St PH15 2AQ, ☏ . Open mid-March to Oct. Clean well-run site on riverside north edge of town. Tent £18, caravan £24.
- Some dozen B&Bs and self-catering cottages in town and along the lane to Dull.
- Aberfeldy Cottages, Laurelbank Cottages, Taybridge Terrace PH15 2BS, ☏ . Two self-catering cottages near town centre, let by the week Sat-Sat, shorter lets available in winter. Both sleep six, dogs welcome. 7 nights £680.
- Coshieville House, Coshieville PH15 2NE (B846 five miles west of Aberfeldy), ☏ . Delightful little B&B in former inn, dog-friendly. B&B double £85.
- Mains of Taymouth Country Estate, Kenmore PH15 2HN (north bank of river), ☏ . Cluster of upscale self-catering lodges in Kenmore. It doesn't run as a hotel but there's a bar and restaurant on site and others in the village. With golf course and horse riding centre. The name is confusing, since the estate stands at the source of the Tay, not at the mouth which is in Dundee. Double from £220 / night.
- Fortingall Hotel is an Arts & Crafts styled small hotel in Glen Lyon.
- Head east to rejoin A9 then north to Pitlochry and Blair Atholl and over the moors to the Spey Valley.
- Go west past Loch Tay to join A85 to Crianlarich, with routes to Oban or Glencoe.
- The road south comes back into the Lowlands via Dunkeld to Perth.