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Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Returning north on the A826, Aberfeldy has been a popular touring centre for the past two centuries. The Birks are worth visiting and only require a short stroll from a car park on the A826 or a slightly longer walk from the town following the Moness Burn. The cool glades and waterfalls surrounding this small glen gave inspiration to the Bard and many after him. The town is busy throughout the summer but there is still the air of a rural village with little 'tourist' pressure evident. There are a fair amount of amenities such as cafes, restaurants, shops and accommodation but it is scaled down compared to other tourist parts.

Aberfeldy Water Mill, driven by the Moness Burn which runs through the town centre, is a restored and working mill which still produces its own stone-ground oatmeal. In the late summer, look out for the Kenmore to Aberfeldy Raft Race where various teams from local companies and organisations paddle their way down the tumbling Tay rapids to scoop the prize or otherwise. There are other 'sights' to be seen before the race in Kenmore where there is a contest between the crews to see who comes up with the zaniest attire.

Wades Bridge, a short stroll from the town centre, was designed by William Adam in 1733 and built by General Wade to carry troops north over the River Tay to suppress the warring Highlanders. It is perhaps the finest example of Wade's designs and a vital link in the network of roads that he created. Nearby is the Black Watch Monument and cairn, an imposing statue of a kilted soldier commemorating the formation of that Regiment in 1739.

Crossing the bridge, Castle Menzies, 1 mile (2km) west of the town on the B846, is a sixteenth-century tower-house, home of the Clan Menzies. Their history and mementos are displayed in a small museum which is open from Easter until October. Although under restoration by the Menzies Clan Society following years of serious neglect, the Z-plan fortified residence has splendid plaster-work ceilings and also a single, green satin, eighteenth-century lady's shoe found behind one of the walls, all making it worthy of a visit.

Aberfeldy Distillery on the east side of Aberfeldy was founded in 1898 by the Dewar family and has a free visitor's reception and shop. There is also a pleasant Nature Trail over the burn supplying the distillery with its water. St Mary's Church is a few more miles east on the A827 - take the signposted farm road past Pitcairn Farm to the top of the hill. Inside is one of the best examples of seventeenth-century painted, wooden ceilings containing pastoral scenes from the local Stewart landowners period as well as biblical and heraldic designs that remain quite clear. Grandtully on the A827 between Aberfeldy and Ballinluig is known for its white water rapids and attracts canoeists and major competitions from all over the country. The rapids are said to be the fastest, natural white-water in the UK and it is a thrilling sight to watch the experts career through the narrow gates whilst negotiating fierce currents and eddies.



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