Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Aberfeldy, Fortingall, Kenmore loop: 26th September 2011

For the Glasgow September long holiday weekend we'd decided to get out of Glasgow and rent a cottage/lodge/caravan (to be honest I wasn't quite sure what it was going to actually be *) just outside Aberfeldy in Perthshire. Thankfully the weather wasn't too bad and this meant we could hire some bikes and get out to see the stunning Perthshire countryside in early autumn.

View Aberfeldy in a larger map

After collecting the bikes it was a short ride over the Wade Bridge up to the B846 road (National Cycle Route 7) which heads out to Glen Lyon. It's a fairy flat route with some dramatic houses old and new, and also some interesting sign-posts.

After turning off the B846 at Keltneyburn, the first stop was Fortingall, both for the Hotel and the Yew tree in the adjoining Church. The Yew tree is meant to be the oldest tree in Europe, c. 5000 years old - it's impressive but a good proportion of it was taken away in the 19th century by 'souvenir' hunters.

The Ewe (ha!) bar in Fortingall Hotel was very small & cosy, but the the house beer, Yew Ale from Inveralmond, was not available and the barman/manager seriously abrupt and touchy at my mentioning it - really not impressive. We decided to get on our way as soon as possible and it must have clicked to the barman that he had lost some custom, so he did come over and explain that they had just changed contracts for the drinks supply, but by then we really just wanted out of the place.

We then cycled down to the shore of Loch Tay heading back east, and after a couple of miles came to the Kenmore Hotel, said to be Scotland's oldest Inn (although I think the Sheep Heid in Edinburgh has an earlier claim). It's in a stunning setting at the very head of Loch Tay, with the conservatory and outside bar area looking down a good part of its length.

The hotel bar is called The Poet's Bar, after Robert Burns who composed Taymouth here on the chimney-breast, with the framed poem being the centrepiece of the bar. The only real ale on offer was Thrappledouser from Inveralmond, but it was well kept, with the barman pouring a few pints away to allow the new cask to settle down.

We took a short detour on the south bank of Loch Tay to the Acharn Falls, a 20 minute or so clamber from the shoreline to the head of the falls, but definitely worthwhile after the rain of the previous day.

We then headed back to Aberfeldy on the B846 road. The last port-of-call was the Weem Hotel a mile or so before the town centre. It's claim to fame was that the (in)famous General Wade (who lead the government armies in the Battle of Culloden) lived there, although his part of the dwelling was not in the best state of repair. The rest of the hotel was nice and welcoming, with the staff full of banter. Inveralmond Ossian and Thappledouser were on the bar and the Ossian was a great refreshing beer at the end of a cycle.

Back in Aberfeldy, the only place in town that seemed to be selling real ale was the Black Watch Inn. This was a nice place to spend an hour or so - a long, narrow bar with dart-board and pool table, a decent amount of whiskies, Belhaven IPA (better than the GK equivalent, though it's a low starting point) and Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted on hand-pull, and extremely good food served in the lounge restaurant.

* - it was a cottage!

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