This was our first holiday as a family and what a wonderful way to spend it! A few days in Perthshire’s big tree country as its known for its very grand trees standing proud and tall. As you drive into the this the heart of Scotland you will see the woodlands appear in front of you and the peaks of the hills at the top of the treelines.
There the three of us, my wife, six week old daughter and we stayed in a little lodge in Birnam by Dunkeld. The home of the Beatrix Potter Garden and also Birnam Woods, named in Shakespeare’s well-known play Macbeth.
In the past we have over the years visited Perthshire on many occasions for different reasons, from lodge weekends, to walks, cycles and events such as the Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry, which is well worth a visit by the way!
As with most mornings when we are away, mine was a fairly early rise, even more so this time with a six week old baby!
Knowing that there were red squirrels around, I also was often eagerly waiting around and watching through the windows at our lodge. Then on our first morning as I was standing by the kitchen window, one hopped happily right past the lodge, but was I fast enough to get the camera, no! It was however not long till yet another one was jumping around the trees not far from the lodge. By that time I was holding our baby girl, so he almost got away, but got half of a picture!
Below I have tried to include a few ideas and suggestions from our visit of what there is to do and see around Dunkeld and Birnam, including a few tips (family/kids related) you may find useful for your next visit to the region.
A lodge by River Tay, Erigmore Estate http://www.erigmore.co.uk/ Birnam by Dunkeld. Our lodge over looked the fast flowing River Tay, Scotland’s longest river. The Estate has an onsite Restaurant, Three Trees, which serves lunch and dinner Wednesday to Sunday, they also have a newly created outdoor children’s play area, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi and sauna. In the swimming pool children under five go free, score! As we found out the water temperature may be a little too cool for a baby’s first swim, but would e fine for adults.
The location is 1hr 30min from Edinburgh, 12 miles north of Perth and easily accessed from all major cities around Scotland. There is also a train station by Birnam.
Erigmore Estate, Birnam
What to bring;
When it comes to the child I’m sure you already have a list, but make sure you check it over and bring it all as you wouldn’t want to get stuck with no nappy bags or similar, not that we did thankfully!
Outdoor clothes and walking boots. A sturdy pram or buggy is recommended if bringing a little one or two. Top Tip, tarpaulin for the boot of your car is a good idea to help keep things clean and dry, this counts for all months of the year in Scotland.
You’re likely to get little mobile internet connection in this area, so make sure you have a hardback map or most up to date copy on your GPS or mobile devices.
First aid kid, better have it and not need it, than need it and not have it, someone once said to me!
Most importantly (I would say), bring a camera to capture those special moments and memories which you are likely to have! In my case my daughters first smile one morning.
Where we eat;
The Restaurant at the Erigmore Estate. We enjoyed our first evening meal in this stylish and comfortable restaurant. As mentioned above, they serve food Wednesday to Sunday. Great quality food and a good selection of Scottish beverages.
Dunkeld Fish n’ Chip Shop
This well-known takeaway is located in Dunkeld and serves local and fresh produce. They have won many awards for their use of the best quality produce and high quality product served.
Our dinner from here one evening was enjoyed at the Taybank car park just off the high street, with views over the River Tay and we enjoyed the sun setting over the hills and Dunkeld Bridge.
The Corbenic Cafe Shop
Lunch and snack. Part of the Corbenic project for people with learning difficulties.
Arts and crafts shop and café. Other café and delis are also located throughout the centre of the village. http://www.corbeniccamphill.co.uk/cafe.htm
Dunkeld Smoked Salmon
This well-known and award winning local fish smokers are located just off Dunkeld high street. We bought and enjoy some of their smoked salmon pate, hot smoked salmon and smoked salmon. Well worth a visit and even better a taste, truly outstanding!
If you’re into fly fishing, look out for their locally made flies which you can purchase in store. http://www.dunkeldsmokedsalmon.com/
You can easily reach Birnam village centre in 10 minutes by foot or Dunkeld in 15-20 minutes by foot. There you will find a number of local attractions, cafés, pubs and shops. There are also a number of quirky little shops, selling second hand and also locally produced products which are very reasonably priced and a fantastic choice.
Beatrix Potter Garden and Museum, only a short walk from the estate and easily reached in the centre of the village. http://www.birnamarts.com/
John Kinnaird Hall, this exhibition centre, café and conference centre is located in the center of Birnam. Here you will find a museum about Beatrix potter and a shop dedicated to her many wonderful stories and toys alike. Well worth a visit, even for the adults!
Dunkeld Cathedral, this spectacular cathedral is one of the finest in Scotland. As you enter the building you will find a warmth of welcoming sights. Also as part of the information available wit all the work they do, they have a large selection of leaflets for tourists, now I’ve never seen copies in so many languages, including Danish. Now if that’s not giving you a warm welcome, I don’t know what is! What I also found of great interest, was their map of the cathedral to show many of the points of interest inside and outside the building
Half is open to services by Church of Scotland, the other half is a ruin and being kept and renovated by Historic Scotland. http://www.dunkeldcathedral.org.uk/
Riverside walks, there is a path along the river, which takes you towards Dunkeld and beyond to the Hermitage. But watch the paths as these can be muddy. You will however be rewarded with plenty of wildlife and birds, including red squirrels
Birnam Hill, we never managed to go, but if you’re up for a little walking, the Birnam Hill may be one for you. With only being a 300m / 1000ft climb and a 4 1/2 mile round trip, with a sling or sturdy pram this could be a nice family stroll. Of course its open to anyone, not just families!
Hermitage, this fantastic forest walk is one of the most spectacular you will find in Scotland, with some of the biggest and tallest trees, in fact the tallest tree in the UK. Top Tip, if bringing a pram or buggy, I would recommend you parked in the overflow car park and this gives you easy access to the Hermitage and also picnic benches by the river side.
Queens View, about a 30 minute drive north of Birnam on the A9 and a 4 mile drive along a small country road, you’ll find this most amazing view. Sunny or cloudy, it’s always a pleasure visiting the spectacular view point, a favourite of Queen Victoria, hence its name!
Dunkeld Wildlife Reserve, Osprey nest amongst many attractions. I also loved just standing watching their bird feeding display. I suggested they made a film with just that, birds feeding and playing, as it was so calming and tranquil! I would say this is perfect for adults and children alike, certainly a must if you’re visiting Dunkeld.
For other local attractions and events make sure you check out a few of these websites.
Please note there are very few or no outside bins around at the different parking bays, so you’re best bringing a bag for your rubbish, may this be nappies or food wrappings to bring back home or for when you find a bin. Also, a lot of parking is chargeable, so make sure you bring change for these, the cost goes towards the upkeep of the region.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our journey and that this has inspired you to get out to enjoy the beauty we have right on our doorstep or if you’re visiting Scotland, to include the area in your itinerary.
If you enjoyed reading and watching this as much as I did photographing it, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram on mine and our travels around Scotland and beyond @kimkjaerside I look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks for reading!