Sunday 10 September 2023

Perth Revisited - River Tay & Kinnoull Hill

View from the Tay Viaduct

Perth is one of those places I've been to many times but don't know that well. Many decades before I moved to the Highlands it was a place to go through on the way to the Cairngorms, usually by train, occasionally by car. In a vehicle Perth was a nightmare as back then the A9 didn't go round but through it and the many junctions were confusing especially as there were few signs. On one journey back south we went round the ring road twice as we couldn't find the right exit. We only did so when I looked at the signs out of the back window and worked out which it mist be.

Much of Perth is on the flood plain of the River Tay and unsurprisingly it floods regularly. I've been stuck there a few times or had long train journeys round the coast to Inverness to get home. I've got to know Perth's huge, echoing railway station better than I would like.

When I was involved with the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (as it was, now Mountaineering Scotland) I had regular meetings to attend in Perth and was driving down there half a dozen times and more a year. Driving because the meetings went on too late in the evening for me to catch the last train north. I soon learnt that reaching Perth was usually fast and easy but that getting from the outskirts to the centre took a very long time with a seemingly endless series of traffic lights and roundabouts to contend with. 

The escarpment on Kinnoull Hill

On all these visits to Perth I never once left the town centre or crossed the river, not even when I had time to spare waiting for a train. It never occurred to me. Perth in my head was a functional town. Pleasant enough but not of any real interest to me. I was, of course, wrong, as I have just discovered.

This came about when an Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild meeting was held in the town. I've been a member for around forty years but rarely go to meetings since moving to the Highlands as they are usually down in England.The last time was in 2017 when the AGM was held in the Lake District (see this post).  Having commented that meets were too far away on many occasions I really felt I had to attend one in Perth!

The Causeway

The meet began with a good lunch and interesting conversation in an excellent restaurant (Breizh) before we set off for an afternoon walk. Or some of us did. Unfortunately others had various injuries that prevented them accompaying us (outdoor writing and photography is clearly a hazardous business!) so just four of us set off across the river heading for Kinnoull Hill, myself, Alex and Hannah Roddie, and Felicity Martin. who had organised the meet. Felicity knew Perth well and was our guide for the walk.

The River Tay from Kinnoull Hill

A wander through pleasant parkland past the Causeway that leads to Moncreiffe Island took us to wooded Kinnoull Hill. Although only 222 metres high (lower than my house) this is an impressive hill as it falls away in a steep craggy escarpment down to the river. The views from the edge of the cliffs are superb with the river winding its way through the flatflands far below and higher hills rising in the distance. Cloud hid most of the latter but this didn't detract from the feeling of being high above the world or the beauty of the river.

Kinnoull Tower

Perched right on the edge of the cliffs is Kinnoull Tower, a folly built by the Earl of Kinnoull in the early nineteenth century. Apparently the crags reminded him of those along the Rhine Valley in Germany. There are many castles there and he thought that Kinnoull Hill should have one too. 

The mixed woods on Kinnoull Hill are lovely with a rich mix of trees. Walking through these we arrived at a summit cairn and a most extraordinary and fascinating viewfinder-cum-information plaque erected in 1948 as a "record of historic sites in Perth city and neighbourhood together with mention of other places of interest in the near and distant countryside ".

View from the Tay Viaduct

Leaving the summit we descended through the woods back to the river and the 440 metre Tay Viaduct that carries the railway across the river and over Montcreiffe Island. Our walk ended with excellent views of the river and the island from the pedestrian walkway on the viaduct. 

I look on Perth more favourably now. I'd like to explore more of its surroundings and make up for all those times I could have but didn't. So thanks to Felicity Martin and the OWPG. 

No comments:

Post a Comment