Loch Tay, Kenmore and Aberfeldy, Perthshire: Walking Scottish History

25 Nov

Achingly beautiful places pop up all over Scotland, but Loch Tay in Perthshire, with the waterside village of Kenmore and Aberfeldy town six miles up the road, stands in a class of its own.We visited during the full fire of Autumn colours for a weekend. To walk the fields and woods beside rivers, waterfalls and loch is an out of body experience. I half expected a naked Liam Neeson (as Rob Roy) to stride out of the loch, water cascading from his long locks and down his manly chest…..

The reconstructed Crannog dwelling (above) harks back to the earliest inhabitants of Kenmore (some 2,500 years ago). The Elliotts (below) continue the family consensual map reading tradition.

Instead we got a cranky farmer roaring up the lane after us on his quad bike to tell us we couldn’t go where the OS map was indicating a public footpath. He told us firmly and with hand gestures that we had to go back and walk around his fences and take a different path, which he had signed with his own handpainted signs. We acquiesced and dutifully trotted back and around but soon realised we weren’t going to be able to circle back to Aberfeldy without veering a long way off route. After a brief discussion we decided to disobey the farmer and cut through a small woodland and across a couple of his fields. Stuart was nervous ‘angry farmer’ would come after us so we moved rather quickly! It turned out to be a gorgeous walk.

Scotland has very strong statutory Access Rights to Land and Water so we would have been within our rights to continue on the marked trail. Only once in Wales have we come across something similar where the farmer made it nigh on impossible for walkers to follow mapped trails.

These photos were taken on two walks, the first ‘The Birks (Beech Trees) of Aberfeldy’ a circular walk named for the poem by Robbie Burns and the second from Kenmore in a loop along the loch to a waterfall then up into the hills returning along part of Rob Roy Way.

We stayed in a townhouse at the very grand sounding Mains of Taymouth Country Estate. Next time I would try the Kenmore Hotel. It’s famous amongst the fishing fraternity and has the distinction of having an original Robbie Burns poetry manuscript embedded in the wall above the fireplace. But more than that it marries history with the best contemporary hospitality. Kenmore would be perfect for an atmospheric Xmas or New Year, as long as you have snow chains for the car (just in case).

Robbie Burns’ poem to Kenmore and Loch Tay.


The highlight of the weekend was our rendezvous with intrepid Scottish wanderers, Heather and George. Friends for twenty years since George coached our eldest son in soccer, we’d planned to intersect with their motorhome travels while we were all in Scotland. Although they hail from northeast Scotland they’ve discovered lots more to love on this trip. As you can see their RV looked right at home in the Mains of Taymouth car park overnight! I’m writing this looking at flowering green gum trees against a bright blue sky many thousands of miles from Scotland. We’ve been back on our Broken Head property for two weeks exactly. Warm weather has brought out the brown snakes (mostly squashed on the road or scuttling away) but we have yet to see one on Gypsy Hill.

The caravan was in perfect condition when we returned. Sadly not the outdoor composting loo. Its tent had moved a metre and blown over. Luckily Stuart had swapped out the used loo for an empty one before we left.


Still, it gives us confidence we can leave for three months or more at a time without drama. As we’ll be setting off again overseas on Christmas Day for six months we’ll sell this caravan back to the company we bought it from last June. That was always part of the deal. A secondhand 22-footer suits me but it’s a bit small for Stuart, especially the bed length. We have a couple of options for our return mid next year. For now Gypsy Hill will wait for us.


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