We kind of ended up by accident in Perth for New Year. The plan was to spend the midnight hour and the first minutes of 2010 freezing our nuts off standing in Edinburgh’s Princess Street along with 80,000 other brave souls. As Edinburgh hotels are expensive at New Year, we looked for a place within an hour’s drive to rest our weary heads, and so the stop at Perth was conceived.
Given we didn’t have any particular expectation of the city of Perth, we were pleasantly surprised. The city is large enough with around 45,000 people, to boast a number of good and interesting shops, and during the snowy weather, it was good to spend a few hours darting between the icy winds as we explored the January Sales bargains.
Likewise, there is a lively pub scene in Perth, and a good local real ale brewery, the Inveralmond. We also managed to find some choice of independent restaurant; although the evening of January 1st itself found many places taking a well deserved break from the madness of office Christmas Parties.
There is an interesting looking art gallery in the town; its size seems to bat above the weight of Perth itself. Apparently Bells Whisky was founded in the town, and the grateful Bell family bestowed many imposing buildings upon the city. There is also a live theatre in the town, although the traditional panotomime didn’t take our fancy. We were pleased to see a small multiscreen cinema in the cinema, and rather than spend a few hours waiting in the pub before dinner, entertained ourselves in the cinema.
The city itself seems as old as the hills, and as the original capital of Scotland enjoys plenty of history. I liked wandering round the imposing old granite buildings in the city centre. Many Scottish towns are ugly; but not Perth. There is a grand old bridge across the river that divides the city which despite the snow and the wind was worth a linger. Looking down from the bridge, the river water is clear as can be and we were surprised and delighted to spot a couple of otters swimming in the water. That seems a rare sight in a city the size of Perth.
Even more impressive, Perth is great for walkers. As the weather was changeable, and there was around 8 inches of snow underfoot, we didn’t stray as far as we might have done. However, we enjoyed our river walk along the park to get a great view of Scone Palace (on the site of where the ancient Kings of Scotland were once crowned from around 850, right up until Alexandar III who died in 1286). We also took an icy walk through the woods and along a pretty stream at Quarrymill Woodland Park on the road to Scone Palace. This is another spot donated to the people of Perth by the Bell family.
One minor "yah boo sucks" moment came with our plough through the snow to Scone Palace itself; we found it closed, where an earlier call to the Palace had confirmed the grounds would be open.
Despite the minor hiccup we totally enjoyed our New Year’s weekend in Perth, and will have happy memories of the town for months to come.