‘Blair’, as it is known locally, boasts a fantastic mix of independent shops as well as cafes and restaurants. Its central location – just half an hour from both Perth and Dundee and a couple of hours away by car from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness – makes it the perfect location for walking and touring holidays.
There’s so much to do and see here and in the surrounding area that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few highlights for just half a day’s stay in Perthshire’s largest town, but if a few hours is all you have to spare in Blair then here’s what we recommend:
A wander around Blairgowrie’s town centre visiting the plethora of independent retailers and small, boutique shops is a great way to spend an hour or so. With around 80 shops in Blairgowrie alone, it is possible to buy almost anything you could ever need during your stay in east Perthshire. We love independent bookstore Adventure into Books and arts and crafts hub Nest Creative Spaces in the Wellmeadow, and traditional jewellers Victor and Sons just round the corner on Allan Street. Piob Mhor of Scotland on the High Street has a huge range of Scottish gifts and clothing, while next door, silversmith Sarah Cave offers a range of ‘hand raised’ silverware as well as stunning jewellery.
The riverside area in the centre of Blairgowrie is a lovely spot for a picnic. Recently renamed as the Sir William Macpherson Park after the 27th Hereditary Chief of Clan Macpherson who was born in the town, there is a small car park, picnic tables, an information board, a play park for youngsters and an outdoor gym for adults. If you follow the path upstream along the riverbank, you’ll soon come to a couple of viewing platforms overlooking the river. The second, smaller viewing platform is Cargill’s Leap, where Donald Cargill, a local minster and covenanter, escaped pursuing troops by leaping over the river.
Historically, Blairgowrie and Rattray played a significant role in Scotland’s linen industry with some 16 mills situated on the banks of the Ericht. The remains of some of these once busy mills can be found when strolling along the river side. You can find out more about the stories of the mills, how they worked, the innovations that were made in them, and the challenges that the mill owners and their workers faced thanks to the Cateran Ecomuseum which has curated a special itinerary dedicated to this important part of the town’s history here https://cateranecomuseum.co.uk/itinerary/a-spin-along-the-ericht
More energetic walkers will enjoy a walk up Knockie on the edge of Blairgowrie, where you can take in the spectacular views from the top of the hill overlooking the town. A definite highlight of any trip to Blair, on a clear day you can see for miles – over to Mount Blair in the north and the Sidlaw hills in the south. It’s quite a steep climb in places but worth it, and at the top there is a traditional drystone dyke shelter recently built by local volunteers where you can take a moment or two to just sit and relax.
You will no doubt have worked up an appetite after your walk, and Blairgowrie has plenty of wonderful eateries to choose from. Cafes are a mainstay of community life here, with locals often to be found catching up over a cuppie. One of our favourites is the Cateran Café on Blairgowrie High Street, which offers a range of handcrafted sandwiches, daily specials, various platters, a delectable supply of cakes and pastries alongside artisan coffees. The Angus Hotel in the Wellmeadow offers an eclectic choice of traditional Scottish meals alongside international favourites, and if seafood is your thing then a visit to Little’s Restaurant in a converted church on the banks of the river is a must.
Wherever you choose you can always be assured of a warm welcome and service with a smile!