Having just read the other two reviews I was surprised to learn that there was a drug problem in Aberfeldy - although it is no different to many towns its size. I have visited here twice and the first time I thought that it was a one horse town nothing than somewhere to get a cash machine on the way to the more scenic areas to the west of the town such as Kenmore and Loch Tay. The second visit I made I decided to walk about the small town centre and actually go inside the few shops that are there. I discovered a great deli, with a great choice of wines, fantastic fresh fruit and veg and my favourite seafood - scallops. There was also a really good ladies clothes shop and another selling shoes and bags. Although I don't think I could spend a whole day in Aberfeldy I would still certainly stop again whn in the area.
Aberfeldy is 34 miles NW of perth, 50 miles north of stirling, 75 miles roughly from Edinburgh and Glasgow and 100 miles south of Inverness. Aberfeldy is actually the very centre of Scotland if you drew an "X" from its axis. It has a population of about 1800 and has a primary and secondary school as well as an 18 hole golf club. Shops wise it has; a Gallery; newsagent (a good one with toys) a fantastic butcher (with great displays); a weird "are you being served" semi-department store that also sells antiques; a antuques shop; a great cheap chemist; a good chippy; a large coop that is open 7 days until 9pm!, a bookshop; an ironmonger, a petrol station, hairdresser(s) as well as a slew of coffeeshops and tourist traps. There are no pubs per say but three hotels where you can get a bevvy. Being where it is - ie surrounded by land and far from the sea, Aberfeldy is blessed by having as continental a climate as is possible in Scotland. In the summer it is generally warmer than most main cities in the country and in the winter it gets lots of snow, but not enough to make life difficult. It lies in a valley, cut by glaciers and scourd by the fldgling river tay and so is protected by mountains either side - it really is rather beautiful. Its a touristy wee place but is no Pitlochry due to it being 10 miles west of the A9. The roads are quiet save the odd tractor and the air is clean (it sits 300 feet above sea level). You are liable to see pheasants, deer, red squirrels, buzzards, trout and salmon, otters and all sorts of wildlife and wildflowers that you may never have come across before except on tv or in print. If you havent been and you fancy a great base in which to discover the delights of highland Perthshire then you could do a lot worse than Aberfeldy. see www.heatlander.scotland.net or if you are in perthshire check out 97.5 fm highland perthshires own wee radio station. The best loc al publication for Aberfeldy is The Comment, you cant miss its pink cover in any of the local shops.
Aberfeldy is a small town in the heart of the Perthshire highlands. It’s probably somewhere that you’ve never even heard of, and to be honest, if it wasn’t for the fact that my best friend from uni lives there, then chances are I wouldn’t have either! The pace of life here is so much slower than that you would find in the south-east of England – it was a bit of a culture shock for me going to stay with her, even though I had been in sleepy St Andrews for quite a while! I had originally planned to write this opinion only on the whisky distillery here, however, I have decided to expand it to include several other attractions that Aberfeldy and the surrounding area has to offer – might as well make the most of my chance to write in this category! I have therefore divided this op up into different attractions – to make it easier for you to skip to the bits you’re most interested in (if any!!) The town itself is very small, but it is pleasant enough for tourists to wander through – there are a nice selection of coffee shops, and gift shops – ideal for buying holiday presents. Local jams, chutneys, honey, shortbread etc can all be found here. However, whilst on the surface you might think the town seems very laid back, serene and peaceful, appearances are deceptive, as apparently there is a major drug problem here – like most places, tourists rarely get to find out the true picture. The Distillery ============== Aberfeldy is lucky enough to have its own distillery, which was built by John Dewar and & Sons of Perth. Dewar was one of the first to produce and market a 'blend' whisky, beginning to bottle his own in about 1850. (A blend whisky for those who don’t know is a blend of malt whiskies made in individual distilleries, with a grain whisky – made by a different process. It was John Dewar’s son, the extroverted Tommy, who made the name of Dewar known world-wide. Whisky is still made here today, and it is a thriving business. Whilst the malting of the barley does not take place on site, all the other processes do, and for the sum of three pounds (over 18’s only) you can get taken on a guided tour of the distillery. The day I went it was very quiet, and the three of us got our own private tour. Before this, we were given a free dram as well – that of course is the best bit! We were taught to ‘nose’ it first – but for me, the pleasure is all in the drinking! The guided tour was excellent – the member of staff who took us round really knew her stuff and was able to answer all our questions, explaining the various processes which go into making whisky. In addition to the tour, there is also a fantastic exhibition here, about the making and blending of whisky, and the history of this particular distillery. To go round the exhibition, you are given a handset, which has a speaker on it, and each exhibit has a number. You type this number in, and then hold it up to your ear, and it will give you information. This is also useful for foreigners who can select their own language. The number system also gives you the choice to go round in any order you fancy, rather than being locked into a specific route. This exhibition was presented with the most up-to-date modern technology, being very interactive and very interesting. I particularly liked the computer game where you could have a go at blending your own whisky. I was told however that mine wouldn’t be fit for human consumption! There is a shop here too, where you can buy decanters, glasses etc with the Dewars logo on them, and also the whisky itself. However they only sell their own brand, and not necessarily at the cheapest prices, so I would recommend that you look elsewhere if you want to buy. Unlike some distilleries, the ticket doesn’t even entitle you to a couple of pounds off of a bottle. Historical attractions ====================== Being a great history lover, the historical attractions are of particular interest to me. One notable place is General Wade’s bridge, across the river Tay, first opened to traffic at the end of October 1733. Wade regarded it the greatest of his considerable achievements in road-making. In nine years he personally supervised the construction of over 250 miles of military roads in the Highlands – these were the first engineered roads in Britain since Roman times. The best architect in Scotland, William Adam, was hired to design the structure of the bridge. For many years, Wade's bridge was the only one spanning the Tay (Scotland's longest river) and therefore the best means of access into the east and central Highlands. Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) crossed this bridge himself, when retreating north in 1746. It is now the only one of Wade’s bridges to remain in use – a fitting memorial to such a great roadbuilder. Castle Menzies is another place you are able to visit – in fact my friend lives almost right beside it! You pronounce it 'Mingies' which I find very strange – oh well, that’s the Scots for you! It was the seat of the chiefs of Clan Menzies from the 16th Century (yep, it’s my favourite period again!) until 1918. It is now being restored by the Menzies Clan Society. Architecturally it is of significance, since it is a Z-plan Tower House, a type of castle only found in north-east Scotland. Originally, it was used for defence, but later was used as a large and very comfortable homw. You can even hire it out for balls and parties – Sarah had been considering holding her 21st here until we realised that public transport being what it is, it would be difficult for people to actually get here unless they drove. I haven’t actually been inside th e castle, only wandered round the outside, since it’s only open in the summer months, and was all locked up when I was there, but I decided to mention it anyway, simply to let you know of its existence. Scenery and natural features ============================= Take a trip to the Birks o’ Aberfeldy, a short walk away from the town centre, where you can follow in the steps of Robert Burns. You will be able to see the Falls of Moness, a spectacular waterfall. It is an area of beauty and you might even see some deer hiding behind the trees! The word ‘birk’ actually means birch, but there are not actually that many birch trees here – far more oaks and beeches! Still, it is a very pleasant walk nonetheless. Finally, Aberfeldy is also a useful base for exploring the region. It’s near to the more well-known town of Pitlochry (more on that in another op!) and a short drive away is the beauty of Glen Lyon, north of Loch Tay, which is possibly the narrowest and longest Glen in the highlands. You can get some fantastic views from here. At the mouth of the glen there is a small waterfall, and the rocks on either side of the waterfall are less than 20 feet apart. This place is known as "MacGregor's Leap". It is said that a member of the MacGregor clan, fleeing from a pursuer, escaped by leaping across this waterfall. It was also the Campbells of Glen Lyon who carried out the massacre of Glencoe. Glen Lyon is also surrounded by mountains – many are Munroes, including Schiehallion (hope I’ve spelt that right!) Nearby too is the famous, ancient yew tree in the churchyard of the village of Fortingall – reputedly planted by Pontious Pilate (I think – my Dad kept trying to say it was Caesar, but Mum corrected him – and like all mums, she’s usually right!) Well, for an opinion which was originally just going to be on the distillery, I seem to have rambled on a fair bit…still, it goes to show that there are some interesting places to visit round here, and if you happen to be in the Highlands, come and have a look – whisky, spectacular views and history – what more could anyone want?! Useful addresses: ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Aberfeldy Tourist Office The Square Aberfeldy Perthshire Tel: 01887 820276 Aberfeldy Distillery Aberfeldy Perthshire Tel: 01887 820330 Castle Menzies Aberfeldy Perthshire Tel: 01887-820982