Blairgowrie & Rattray is a town in Perth and Kinross, 16 miles north of Perth, with a population of 9020 in 2016. Blairgowrie is the larger settlement, southwest of the River Ericht, and Rattray is northeast. They were combined in 1928 and are locally referred to as "Blair" which is the Scottish Gaelic word for a plain or open meadow. They grew up as small market towns at the meeting point of historic routes, including one of General Wade's military roads. They're best known for their raspberries and strawberries. They have a huge influx of casual labour to pick the fruit in early summer, mostly from East Europe, and the farmers wonder how this labour can be supplied once EU residents can no longer be hired.
By train head to Perth which has frequent trains from all the main Scottish cities, and 2 or 3 direct trains from London. Birnam and Dunkeld railway station is closer but lacks onward public transport, and there's a stiff hill if you cycle it.
For all local bus timetables, see P&KC website.
Stagecoach Bus 57 runs every 30 min from Perth via Scone (for the Palace), Kinrossie and Coupar Angus to Blairgowrie (50 min), and continues hourly to Rattray, Alyth, Meigle, Muirhead, Lochee and Dundee. Bus 59 also plies hourly between Blairgowrie and Dundee (55 min) so that route is served every 30 min.
Bus 60 between Blairgowrie and Dunkeld is basically just a school bus three times a day, with one bus continuing to Aberfeldy.
Bus 71 is similar, from Blairgowrie four times a day up the valley through Bridge of Cally to Kirkmichael and Tarvie, with two continuing to Spittal of Glenshee. It doesn't go as far as the ski area or over to Braemar.
You can walk around town, but Bus 63 orbits Blairgowrie and Rattray every 30-60 min. You need your own wheel for outlying sights.
- River Ericht divides Blairgowrie from Rattray. It descends steeply, so its flow was harnessed for a series of textile mills, processing flax for linen, then jute, then rayon. They're all derelict now but a bosky riverside walk leads past them. A suggested route from the bridge is upstream on the west bank past "Cargill's Leap" then returning on the east bank.
- 1 Ardblair Stone Circle has been bisected by B947, so it just looks like a barrier to prevent the illegal parking of Druids. Only if you happen to be going that way.
- 2 Alyth five miles northeast of Blairgowrie was on the old cattle-drovers' route, crossing the river by the 17th century Packhorse Bridge. It later had textile mills driven by the river. Alyth Museum is on Commercial St, open F 12:00-16:00, Sa Su 10:00-16:00. The Alyth Arches were part of a church dating back to 6th century; the nearby Gothic parish church of 1839 dominates the skyline.
- 3 Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum is east on A94, see Forfar.
- 4 Spittal of Glenshee is the last tiny settlement on A93 before the road climbs Devil's Elbow and the bleak moors of Cairnwell, to reach Glenshee ski centre at the top then descend into Braemar. The name indicates "hospital", a refuge as night and the weather closed in. There's an ancient megalith by the Spittal parish church, and a stone circle nearby.
- 5 Glen Isla is the most western of the five Angus Glens. It starts above Bridge of Craigisla, where there's a 24 m waterfall, the Reekie Linn. The B951 climbs the valley through Kirkton of Glenisla and Brewlands Bridge to Forter Castle, a 16th century tower house that's now a private dwelling. The B951 here crosses the ridge west to join Glenshee. A dead-end lane continues north in the glen to Auchavan, where trails lead up to the glacial Corrie Fee.
- Beavers became re-established on Tayside by 2006 and are thriving, so look out for them on any loch or river hereabouts.
- 1 Blairgowrie Golf Club. The club was founded in 1899 and has three courses: Rosemount, Lansdownre and the Wee Course (9 holes). 9 hole round £20 - day ticket £145.
- 2 Davie Park, Rattray. Childrens play area and a wilder area (Loon Braes) with a pond for birdwatching.
- Darroch Wood is reached by a footpath east of the cemetery. From there you can loop north via the Ardblair Stones, but might prefer to loop south via Fingask Loch to the golf course.
- Glenshee ski area is 25 miles north on A93, see Cairngorms National Park. You can tell when conditions have been good as hordes of wind-reddened skiers emerge from vehicles to re-fuel on fish & chips before heading home to the cities - Blairgowrie & Rattray is the first place of any size on their road south.
- Alyth Agricultural Show is held in mid-June on Bogle's Field.
- Blairgowrie & Rattray Highland Games are held on Bogle's Field on the first Sunday in Sept. (That's a mile south of Blairgowrie on Essendy Road, B947 through the standing stones.) The next are on Sun 4 Sept 2022.
- Strathardle Highland Gathering and Agricultural Show is on Bannerfield Park, Strathardle, with the next on Sat 27 Aug 2022.
- Tesco is on Welton Rd by the bridge in Blairgowrie, open M-Sa 07:00-23:00, Su 08:00-20:00. The main store in Rattray is Scotmid on Hatton Rd.
- Rattray Arts Festival is a selling exhibition of paintings, sculpture and jewellery by local artists, with proceeds donated to Scottish Charity Air Ambulance. It's held in Rattray Hall on Balmoral Road in late August. The next is probably 27-28 Aug 2022, tbc.
- 1 Cargill's Bistro, Lower Mill St. Traditional Scottish restaurant. lunch around £10, dinner from £20.
- 2 Dalmore Inn, Perth Road (Southern edge of town near the golf course). daily 12:00 - 21:00. Traditional Scottish restaurant, which often has game (wild meat) on the menu. dinner around £25.
- 1 The Fair O’Blair, 25–29 Allan Street PH10 6AB, ☏ . M-W 08:00-23:00, Th-Su 08:00-00:30. Wetherspoon pub with food in former Woolworths. Sheltered outdoor tables for smokers.
- Others in Blairgowrie are Crown Bar, Number 31, Dreadnought Inn, Cartwheel Inn and Ericht Alehouse. Rattray has the Balmoral at the crossroads.
- Persie Distillery on A93 north of Bridge of Cally make gin and vodka. No tours.
- Highland Boundary in Alyth distil Scottish spirits. Breaking categories seems to be the concept, but think gin or vodka not Scotch. No tours.
- 1 Angus Hotel, 46 Wellmeadow, Blairgowrie PH10 6NQ, ☏ . Good mid-range place with pool and spa, plumb centre of town. Dog-friendly. B&B double £80.
- 2 Milton Royal Hotel, Royal Hotel, 53 Allan St, Blairgowrie PH10 6AB, ☏ .
- 3 Kinloch House, Dunkeld Rd, Blairgowrie PH10 6SG, ☏ . Charming rambling country house, great dining. No dogs. B&B double £250.
- 4 Meikleour Arms, Meikleour, Blairgowrie PH2 6EB, ☏ . Country house hotel with fine dining. Dogs permitted in some areas. B&B double £100.
- Tigh na Leigh, 22 Airlie St, Alyth PH11 8AJ, ☏ . Guesthouse open Feb-Nov, comfort and service to a high standard. It's primarily a B&B but you can dine with notice, and won't regret it. No children under 12. B&B double £110.
As of Sept 2021, Blairgowrie & Rattray have 4G from EE and O2, a mobile signal from Three, but nothing from Vodafone. 5G has not reached this area.
- Perth is an agreeable small city: its top sight Scone Palace is on the road to Blairgowrie.
- Dundee, once grubby and industrial, is now worthy of its fine location on the Tay, with the sailing ship Discovery, Verdant jute mill, and V&A design museum.
- Forfar has sculpted Pictish stones, and Edzell and Glamis castles.
- Dunkeld and Birnam mark the beginning of the Highlands. The autumn colours are glorious.
|Routes through Blairgowrie & Rattray|
|Cairngorms / Braemar ←||N S||→ Perth|