We recently visited rural Perthshire to discover the best of Go Rural Scottish agritourism. Agritourism is growing in popularity as people look for ways to spend more time in the countryside, reconnecting with nature. In recent years farms have diversified and as a result, many have now have farm shops, offer visitors tours/experiences and even farm stays.
Go Rural describe themselves as “a thriving community movement of Scottish farmers and crofters … who are committed to caring for the environment” and “offer locals and visitors alike high quality and memorable experiences”. Their website makes finding farm shops, fab accommodation or Halloween pumpkin patches easy.
Day One – A Scottish Agritourism break in Perthshire
We decided the best way to kick off our Go Rural Scottish agritourism break would be with a walk in the leafy, Perthshire countryside.
We love spending time in the countryside at one with nature. When there we always follow the Countryside Code, treating Scotland’s beautiful rural areas and the animals that live in them with respect.
Walk devil’s Cauldron, Comrie
Our walk of choice was The Deil’s Cauldron Path on the outskirts of Comrie – fairly close to where we’d be staying. The path begins at a car park and meanders past agricultural land, before climbing into a wooded gorge with a river running through it.
After walking for around twenty minutes we reached a small waterfall, known as the Wee Cauldron, because it tumbles into a bowl shaped hollow resembling a cauldron. The devil must prefer large cooking pots, as his cauldron ten minutes further along the path was a more dramatic affair.
At the Deil’s Cauldron the River Lednock, cascades into a large, circular pool of inky black water.
We love walks with interesting features along the way, so this was a perfect Sunday morning ramble.
The Earthquake House, Comrie
Another thing we love doing when we travel, is discovering quirky, hidden gems off the tourist trail. In Comrie there’s a wee house on a hill, known as The Earthquake House. Comrie might look sleepy, but it’s also known as ‘The Shaky Toun’ due to it being the UK’s earthquake capital. In the 19th century, The Earthquake House was built to hold seismology equipment to record earth tremors in the village. Today, the wee hoose is still in use. The equipment has been modernised, but it continues to record both local and worldwide tremors.
Fowlis Wester Pictish stones
To reach our farm stay, we had to pass through Fowlis Wester near Crieff. Fowlis Wester is a gorgeous village with whitewashed cottages, a quintessentially British red phone box and a medieval church/walled kirkyard. Standing close to the church in the village square, is a replica of a sculptured Pictish stone. The original is on display inside the church, along with another beautifully decorated stone.
I love ancient carved stones, so insisted we make a pit stop in the village to see the Fowlis Wester Sculptured Stones.
The smaller of the two stones in the church bears a Celtic cross and figures (possibly of religious significance). The larger stone features a Celtic cross on one side and Pictish warriors, symbols and a cow leading a procession on the other.
Now it was time to meet some real coos and an assortment of other farm animals at Blairmore Farm – our home for two nights.
Our Scottish Agritourism accommodation: Blairmore Farm
Blairmore is a working farm, located on a hillside a few miles east of Fowlis Wester. Besides running the farm, James, Ailsa and their team offer farm tours, make goodies in their farm kitchen and manage holiday cottages.
We’d be staying in Gardeners Cottage – a two storey end-terrace with an enclosed front garden, complete with fire pit, barbecue and garden furniture.
Inside, the cottage had a spacious dining kitchen, bathroom and lounge downstairs, plus two en suite double bedrooms upstairs. The bedrooms both had TVs, a plentiful supply of fluffy towels, robes and slippers.
All rooms in the property had a pretty rural view.
Fresh from the farm kitchen
Once we’d unpacked it was time for dinner. Guests staying at Blairmore Farm receive a welcome pack containing bread, butter, jam, eggs, tea, coffee, milk, sugar, muffins and cooking oil from the farm kitchen. You can also order meals and breakfast (cooked or Continental) from the farm kitchen. We ordered dinner for both nights of our stay and Continental breakfasts too.
The first dish we sampled from Ailsa’s farm kitchen was a delicious chicken curry, served with rice, nan bread and chutney. All I had to do was pop it in the oven, et voila – an effortless and very tasty dinner for two.
After dinner, we slipped into our robes and slippers and spent a relaxing night in front of a roaring fire. I love listening to the crackle of a real fire – it’s so hypnotic.
Day two – a Scottish Agritourism break in Perthshire
When day two of our Scottish agritourism break dawned, we hopped out of bed, looking forward to breakfast. At 8:30am a Continental breakfast hamper was delivered to our door. It soon became apparent that we wouldn’t go hungry staying on Blairmore Farm. The hamper was packed with goodies. There were hot and cold pastries, cheeses, yoghurt, fresh berries, fruit, juice and cereal. It was a veritable feast and the perfect way to start the day.
After breakfast it was time to head out and explore rural Perthshire.
We made our first stop of the day at Buchanty Spout a few miles north of Blairmore Farm. Buchanty Spout is a modest waterfall on a fast flowing river. It’s one of the best places in Scotland to watch salmon leaping upstream during the breeding season (October/November). Even without jumping fish, it’s a pretty spot and worth visiting to witness the immense power of the rapids.
After leaving Buchanty Spout, we drove through the Sma’ Glen following one of General Wade’s old military roads.
Local legend says a standing stone in the glen marks the grave of the mythical bard Ossian.
In this still place, remote from men, sleeps Ossian in the narrow glen – Sir Walter Scott
Glen Quaich and Loch Freuchie – there be dragons
When we reached Amulree, we turned into Glen Quaich. A single track road passes through the glen, skirting the shore of Loch Freuchie where a crannog (an island where an an ancient house would’ve stood) is linked to a tragic tale. A young man called Fraoch fell in love with a girl called Maidh. To prove his love, Maidh asked him to gather rowan berries from the island, despite knowing a dragon lived on it.
Fraoch went, and he found the dragon sleeping. He collected the berries without waking it, but it wasn’t enough for Maidh. Now she wanted the whole rowan tree. Fraoch crept back to the island and uprooted the tree. This time, he woke the dragon and a battle ensued. Maidh later found Fraoch dead on the loch’s shore, his arms and legs torn off by the dragon. Beside Fraoch lay the dragon – slain by the lovestruck young man.
We didn’t encounter dragons on our journey through Glen Quaich, but we did see loads of toads migrating to a small lochan to lay eggs.
Red Squirrel spotting at Cluny House Gardens
Another of the things we enjoy most about spending time in rural areas is wildlife watching. There are so many native species to look out for in Scotland.
One bonnie beastie we spot frequently is the red squirrel. We decided to pay Cluny House Gardens near Aberfeldy a visit, as the lovely woodland garden is a great place to see red squirrels.
Within seconds of arriving, I’d counted three – two playing a game of rough and tumble and another in a tree.
A visit to Errichel Farm
Now it was time to visit another local Scottish Agritourism business for lunch. Like Blairmore, Errichel Farm near Aberfeldy is a working farm with holiday accommodation on site. They also have a deli and popular bistro (Thyme) too.
We arrived with time to spare before lunch, so decided to say hello to some of the four-legged residents on the farm. Three plump piggies made a beeline for us as soon as we approached their pen. They were especially intrigued by the boy, and he them. He loves pigs. They peered at each other through the fence and even booped snoots.
Lunch: Thyme Bistro & deli
Having checked Thyme Bistro’s menu online, I was looking forward to eating there.
We received a friendly welcome on arrival and were shown to a table by the window, with a gorgeous view. The bistro immediately felt relaxing and loved the decor, which reminded me of Morocco.
Thyme’s Chef, Paul Newman (not that one) has a field to fork philosophy and is passionate about using fresh, ethically sourced ingredients. That passion shines through in the wonderful food he prepares in his kitchen.
I had Thai green chicken curry with rice. It was delicious – nicely spicy, full of subtle flavours and packed with fresh veg. It was a dish I’d happily eat every night of the week.
Mr G had smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on crisp-bread. He loved his choice too.
The boy wasn’t forgotten either. He got water and a bowl of cooked chicken.
After finishing our main courses we were urged to try one of the delicious home-baked cakes on offer. We couldn’t resist and ordered coffees and a slice of Sicilian lemon cake to share. It tasted like a little slice of heaven.
We’ll definitely be visiting Thyme bistro again when we’re next in the area – the location, food and staff were all amazing.
Before leaving we had a browse in Thyme Deli. It was full of quality, local goodies – gins, cheeses, biscuits, meats and more. There were exotic delicacies too, including crocodile steaks – which thankfully aren’t a native Perthshire species. We erred on the conservative side and bought some gourmet nuts to graze on later.
Croft Moraig Stone Circle
En route back to Blairmore Farm we visited Croft Moraig Stone Circle, near Aberfeldy. From the roadside it doesn’t look too impressive, but if you take the time to check it out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The double stone circle dates back 5,000 years and is known to have evolved over several different time periods during its 1,000 years of use as a religious/ceremonial site.
Chill out time back on Blairmore Farm
We’d spent another fun day exploring Perthshire – now we were looking forward to spending a second relaxing night back at Gardeners Cottage.
Before loafing, it was time to tuck into another tasty treat from the farm kitchen. This time, macaroni cheese, with garlic bread, salad and dressing. It was fantastic.
Day three: a Scottish Agritourism break in Perthshire
On the final morning of our Scottish agritourism break, Ailsa delivered another delicious breakfast hamper to us. It was lovely to meet her and be able to pass on our compliments to the chef in person.
A Blairmore Farm Tour
After breakfast we had one final treat in store before checking out. James would be giving us a farm tour and introducing us to the animals.
First up we met adorable lambs Lily, Cotton and Hyacinth. They were being hand reared, before joining Blairmore’s breeding ewes once old enough. They were beyond cute and I was beyond excited when James asked if we’d like to bottle feed them. It was easily the most joyful thing I’ve done on our travels.
After feeding the little ladies we got to cuddle them too. The boy was as smitten as we were. Watching his tail wagging as he booped noses with them through their pen was heartwarming. Casper has never displayed any sign of having a prey drive and he ADORES meeting animals. Despite that, I always keep him under control, with his lead on when we’re around livestock or wild animals. It doesn’t matter how well you think you know your dog, you can never be 100% sure.
Leaving the woolly ones, we moved onto the Highland cows next. James explained the matriarch of the fold was a fine big lassie called Val, who didn’t put up with any nonsense from the others – including the bulls.
Next up we met the pigs, who were squealing unbelievably loudly for their breakfast. They quickly fell silent when James filled their trough. My favourite was Hughie – a big saddleback with a lovely nature. He let us pat him and scratch his ears. James told us his nice nature made him perfect for breeding.
Our tour of Blairmore Farm was fascinating, funny and insightful. It gave us a real insight into what it’s like to live and work on a Scottish livestock farm. Farm tours are a brilliant idea, given each new generation becomes more removed from the concept of field to fork, with many thinking meat and veg come from their local supermarket.
Before leaving Blairmore Farm the boy demanded a final audience with Lily, Cotton and Hyacinth.
Once he said goodbye, we bid James farewell too.
It was time to return to our suburban life, but not before visiting our local farm shop to collect a taste of the farm kitchen to take home with us.
Taking a taste of the farm kitchen home
There’s a wonderful farm shop a few minutes drive from us. Craigie’s Farm was a lifesaver for us during lockdown. We visited regularly for takeaway coffees, then walked in woodland next to the farm, before popping in afterwards to buy freshly prepared meals to eat at home.
There was a hamper of Craigie’s farm goodies waiting for us when we arrived. It included lentil soup, macaroni – there’s no such thing as too much macaroni. Mr G is something of a macaroni connoisseur. He raved about Craigie’s macaroni – probably too much for my liking. He’d always maintained my macaroni was the finest on the planet, but now he wasn’t so sure. I have to agree though it was pretty, damn tasty. As were the homemade puddings in our hamper – sticky toffee pudding and berry crumble.
For me though, the highlight was Craigie’s homemade peanut butter. The peanut butter piece (sandwich) has been a favourite of mine since childhood, and this was the best I’ve tasted. I didn’t share a morsel of it and will be popping into Craigie’s Farm again soon to stock up.
Our Scottish agritourism break was provided on a complimentary basis, however all opinions are entirely my own.
Until next time …