Breadalbane is full of paradoxes, blending ancient and modern, rugged and gentle, exciting and relaxed to make a wonderful venue for short breaks at any time of year. Each visit is an opportunity to unearth ancient mysteries and surprising new places.
With its dramatic landscape of high mountains encircling long rivers and freshwater lochs, the area is famous for outdoor activities such as walking, biking and water sports, but the high quality products and services available locally make it equally inviting for touring, shopping and eating out.
The Rings of Breadalbane are routes for walking, road cycling and trail biking, along with guides to golf and angling, that offer different ways to explore this beautiful area of Scotland. Their circular shape reflects the rings of historic stone circles and ancient trees found throughout the region. Following these routes is a journey through a landscape steeped the history of clans and drovers, monarchs and early Christian missionaries. But beneath the surface there are mysteries that no one has fathomed – such as the meaning of the prehistoric cup and ring marked rocks scattered across the countryside.
In Gaelic, Breadalbane means “the high ground of Scotland” and at its heart is the Loch Tay area, which is sheltered to the north by Ben Lawers, the highest mountain outside the Nevis and Lawers ranges. It and the adjacent Ptarmigan range of hills offer challenging winter mountaineering but, in summer, rambles around Ben Lawers National Nature Reserve reveal rare sub-arctic wildflowers.
An effortless way to engage with the wildlife of the Loch Tay area is with Highland Safaris who drive visitors to secret locations for tantalising views of mountain hares, red deer and ravens. In the summer months, the Ring of Breadalbane Explorer bus that circuits the region stops at the Scottish Crannog Centre, with its reconstructed prehistoric lake dwelling, Castle Menzies, the ancestral seat of an ancient clan, the picturesque gardens of Bolfracks Estate and many other local attractions.
Water is an integral part of Breadalbane’s verdant landscape and the glacier-carved glens are home to several spectacular waterfalls. At one time, water was a source of power – as at The Watermill in Aberfeldy, now converted into a bookshop, art gallery and café. Another vital use of Breadalbane’s pure water has long been its transmutation into “the water of life”. Dewar's World of Whisky welcomes visitors to the spiritual Highland home of Dewar’s world-renowned Highland Single Malt at Aberfeldy Distillery, just three miles from where founder John Dewar was born. The refurbished visitor centre opened in 2014 showcases Dewar’s rich heritage through an in-depth and engaging experience.
One of the fascinating aspects of Breadalbane is how the area reinvents itself to move with the times. A prime example is the Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy, whose Art Deco building had stood empty until bought and restored by the local community. It is now a vibrant arts venue, showing films for both children and adults and hosting drama, concerts, exhibitions and talks. It is a great place a place to relax with friends for lunch, an evening meal or just a glass of wine.
Another community-owned attraction is Cultybraggan Camp in Comrie, in Strathearn. One of the one of the best preserved World War II Prisoner of War camps in Britain, it was used for many years as a cadet training camp before finding a new life. The site now supports a community orchard, allotments and sports, with many of the Nissan huts housing local businesses. A thought-provoking heritage centre in Hut 1 features the camp’s story and local history, from the adjacent Roman marching camp to the scenic, but short-lived railway. You can take part in an event or use a leaflet from the heritage centre for a self-guided tour.
Strathearn has further surprises in store with exciting mountain bike trails at Comrie Croft, a hostel with eco-camping, and at Action Glen, which is set in a stunning situation on Crieff Hydro Hotel’s extensive country estate. Action Glen offers over 30 activities for all the family, ranging from quad biking and Segway trekking, through woodland combat and archery, to crazy golf and treasure hunt. Hidden in woodland is a gem not to be missed – the inspiring Aloft treetop adventure trail with rope bridges, high wires and zip lines.
Intriguing Breadalbane offers a remarkable combination of fascinating cultural attractions and absorbing physical activities, with each step uncovering a fresh diversion. Find out more about what to do and where to stay and eat on the various sections of the Breadalbane website. And sign up below to receive our monthly newsletters.