Sunday, October 16, 2011

Knock of Crieff

For our October ramble, we headed west to Crieff, described in our Frommer's walking guide as 'an attractive resort town, situated on the Highland edge at the foot of the Knock, a hill with panoramic views over mountain, wood, and farmland.'  We were looking forward to this ramble for two reasons: 1, because we've yet to experience this part of the country and 2, because the ramble starts from the car park of the Glenturret Distillery, basically incorporating a distillery tour into our ramble.  Beginning a ramble in the Highland foothills with a wee dram of The Famous Grouse, Scotland's favourite whisky?  Yeah, sounded like the perfect day to us, too.

Getting to Crieff from Dundee required a 20 minute train ride to Perth (£7.50 return per person) and a further 45 minute bus ride (£4.10 return per person).  The distillery is a bit out of town on the main road but the walk is pleasant.  We left Dundee around 10am and arrived at the Glenturret Distillery around 12:30pm.  Upon arrival, we paid for the 1:30pm Experience tour (£8.95 per person) and then headed up to the restaurant to kill an hour.  The restaurant was disappointing, though we did enjoy a drink before moving on.  The shop was better and we walked away with a chunk of whisky fudge (£1.60) as our souvenir.

The tour itself was fun but, especially when compared to the free tour available at the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown, a bit expensive.  Our tour at the Glenfiddich distillery had a smaller group (though we were there in November) and ended with a proper tasting of their three whiskies (12, 15, and 18 years).  Our group at the Glenturret distillery was much larger (it sold out) and the tour felt fast.  Though we did get small samples of four of their whiskies (Snow, Famous, Black, and 10 year single malt), it was not a proper whisky tasting and I didn't leave respecting the flavours, as I did after the Glenfiddich tour.  The tour ended with a pretty cool short film and, overall, I'm glad we did it because we were there but, especially at that price, we'd recommend Dufftown and Glenfiddich for a cheaper and perhaps better, though similar, experience.

view from the summit
We began our Knock ramble around 2:15pm and finished around 5pm, just short of the book's estimated 3 hours.  The hike took us up a few hills (total elevation gain was 710 ft.), some of which were pretty steep, giving it a moderate rating from the book, which I agree with.  We encountered a few other ramblers but, otherwise, we were completely alone.  With a castle in the distance and the autumn colours, this was a particularly scenic hike and we would definitely recommend it, though we would suggest going on a clear day to take full advantage of the views from the summit.

Crieff itself was a surprise; we hadn't expected such a large town.  When we arrived in the early afternoon it was bustling with activity and we should've stopped then for a pint rather than heading straight for the distillery.  Upon our return, around 5:30pm, the town had already seemingly closed for the night so we didn't really get to experience much of Crieff.  We did find a couple pubs still open however, though the one we chose we weren't terribly impressed with.  There were a few takeaways to choose from too, but again, the one we chose we were disappointed with.  With nothing left to entertain us, we jumped on the 7pm bus back to Perth and were home before 9:30pm.

Monzie Castle
Although we experienced poor weather, our day was otherwise perfect and we highly recommend this itinerary including the distillery tour, but only if incorporating it into the ramble and not as an isolated attraction.

For more pictures, please visit my Facebook album here.

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