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Perth & Dunkeld

Ø July 28 Perth (Sunday) More photos can be found here.

Having packed, our morning was unrushed. I even put some chunky (healthy) peanut butter on the last piece of brown toast. Maurag and Don refused any additional payment for the separate room, which I found sweet – they indicated they might leave it that way, allowing the cot to add a bed if necessary. Mandra and I walked down the hill and through the mall to get to the station. When we got to the platform, the LNER was sitting, waiting for London-bound passengers. We were assigned to a coach fairly close to the front, so boarded and got settled for the two-plus hour ride from #Inverness to Perth.

With 8 stops, we were comfortable as the train continued south hugging the western edge of Cairngorms National Park. I noted that there was a lot of hills with glacial moraine evident. A younger man boarded at Blair Atholl with 4 kids, all in single digits. The three not in diapers played quietly, passing an electronic game around while digging in a game bag. Fred, the blond curly headed youngest got taken for a walk and toilet break. It was raining off and on, with not even small villages visible – just rolling hills. We did pass through Dunkeld and Dunblane, two places I hoped to visit.

On arrival in #Perth about noon, our hotel was directly across from the station. We rolled our bags into this large building, eventually interacting with the clerk, and stashed out bags in a closet around the corner. Immediately turning around to head back to the station, we boarded a train for #Dunkeld. We’d been in Perth all of 15 minutes. The ride was non-stop, and we debarked at Dunkeld & Birnam 40 minutes later. Our walk took us down a slight hill through the quaint town of #Birnam (yes, the Woods town of Macbeth) to cross on a stone bridge over the River Tay into Dunkeld.

Bridge at Dunkeld over the River Tay

Opting for lunch first, we selected the Tayside, as it had a great view of the river valley. My choice was the special of the day, beef and Guinness cottage pie with a Black Isle blond lager. (No notes, but a picture.) Next door was a church building which had been converted into a furniture store. We wandered through, and I fell in love with a chandelier with perhaps a hundred hanging glass teardrops. Through a town square, we advanced onto the gate into the cathedral grounds. Dunkeld Cathedral is a Church of Scotland parish church, originally a Catholic cathedral dedicated to St Columba. Built over a 300-year period, much was destroyed in the 1560 Scottish Reformation, so that only the choir remains as a space of service.

The layout of the church parallels the east-to-west flow of the Tay, opposite the confluence of the River Braan. Through the gate, the east wall of the chancel. The ruins of the nave to the west (upstream) end in a tall stone clock tower to the north of the old west entrance. Scaffolding and a temporary roof cover the restoration work currently underway. The chapter house is a museum which contains stones and slabs from the church’s history and educational displays.

Dunkeld Cathedral

The active church itself is a single aisle with wooden benches down a carpeted center aisle. The ceiling vault is rounded wood, similar to an inverted ship. The three pairs of leaded clear glass windows are spaced to allow wide support walls, and bear carved memorial stones. Two pairs of retired regimental banners are mounted on the walls alongside a Union Jack crossed with a Tricolour. The sanctuary space is surrounded by seating with blue cushions for the elders and a simple table altar. A stained-glass window with five lights fills the east wall. At the opposite end, the organ is in the loft over the entry door.

Leaving the building, we strolled the grounds, particularly the wide tree-shaded lawn down to the river’s edge. Heading back to cross at the bridge, we stopped at the Heritage Guild shop and picked up a few souvenirs. Across the street, a pottery shop “Going Pottie” which had an instructional class underway on this Sunday afternoon. On the other side of the river in Little Dunkeld we checked out the stone column war memorial before beginning the climb to Birnam and the train station. Off to the right we spotted a few bunny rabbits as we approached the Beatrix Potter Garden. Filled with castings representing characters from her books, we were unable to visit the closed museum.

Arriving at the station a bit after 4, The #RoyalScotsman (Great Scottish & Western Railway Co.), a cushy rail service with elegant coaches was sitting in the station. Whatever was delaying its continued passage north apparently affected our train to return (also northbound) to Perth, as it was delayed. Once back in Perth, we checked in, collected bags and headed upstairs to begin settling in. After a bit, ready to wander, we set out for the local cathedral. With no notes as to times of services, and being after 6pm, I had no expectations regarding entry. Mandra waited as I ran around the outsides taking pictures. We then began a search for food. Empty streets should have given us fair warning.

By 7pm, after walking along the #RiverTay, we had figured that not much was open on Sunday evening. We stopped in The Auld Hoose where I had a Belhaven (I think she had cider). My notes there indicated that I was unimpressed with Perth. Maybe another half hour of wander and we stopped into Monterey Jack’s, a burger place. (It turned out this was a chain.) I ordered the Atomic Fries (asking for extra crispy), a venison salad with blue cheese dressing and a bottle of Joker IPA (Wildly Hoppy) from William Bros Brewing. The fries weren’t crispy, and the “atomic” was a heavy hand with the smoky paprika. The venison (sausage) salad was underdressed, and I had to go to the counter to request more. The salad was served in a colander. I found the ale okay, but counted the evening as a bust.

We made our way back to the hotel and settled in for the night. I wrote meager notes in the journal as I did the two-step to get photos to Dropbox. Pictures of the cathedrals got pushed to the wrong Facebook page (again) and I did some internet banking. As we were leaving in the morning, very little had gotten unpacked, so it was off to slumberland.

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