Friday, 22 June 2018

A Trip To Perth. Part One. City, Moncrieffe Island and Kinnoull Hill.

                                              ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Not the large city in Australia but the smaller original one in the Scottish Highlands half an hour's drive inland from the east coast city of Dundee. This is it above, looking north towards the mountains.
 South Inch Park boardwalk.
The Glasgow to Perth bus from Buchanan Street bus station dropped me off just short of the grid pattern square of streets that make up the central city district of Perth. Unusually, compared to others I've visited in the last year or so this bus station sits within the city itself but in an out of the way location you'd never find as a stranger just wandering around, tucked away in a nondescript hidden back street outside the town centre district as does the nearby railway station, next door.
This at least is on a main road and easier to find. Station hotel above. I mention this fact as its relevant later.
 Although I've passed through Perth many times in my prime hill-walking days, mainly for takeaway meals from a chip shop or for a curious half hour look around, Perth has never impressed me that much. The city itself that is. It's a bit like a well heeled, well dressed, but slightly dull very conservative aunt living in genteel suburbia. Think Margo in the Good Life. Or that's my take on it anyway as I prefer spectacular up and down towns and cities with plenty of hills inside the city limits- or social inequality and boom and bust surroundings. I'm a contrary bugger as I've said before. Not good times to live through of course but it does make for interesting social history over long periods. Steady but moderate prosperity overall may be a desirable economic model but it doesn't usually make for a varied or diverse timeline, widely different communities and differing architectural styles. Mrs Thatcher seemed to enjoy Perth though as it was one place in Scotland she could go to in the 1980s for party conferences without getting booed for closing things down.
Perth doesn't seem to have the gritty industrial heritage of Dundee, the broken and disused environments and abandoned factories with that certain edge on the outskirts that can be exciting to visit or abandoned docklands that always pull me in like a magnet,.... or the grand period buildings of Glasgow or Edinburgh, or the warren of narrow ancient streets around a high castle and graveyard that makes similar sized Stirling so appealing.... or any real points of genuine unusual interest for that matter. No  'wow' factor for my tastes in the architecture. Not that I've noticed anyway. It's just nice but nothing really outstanding- building wise. I'm not being cruel just hopefully factual. This photo sort of sums it up. Pick a stand out feature here to visit.

What it does have going for it is the River Tay flowing past the city centre, the South and North Inch, the various bridges, grassy open meadows and park lands all along the riverside on both banks, Friarton Island..... and Kinnoull Hill. All these are good points of interest so I had already devised a walk taking in these highlights and anything else city wise was a bonus. It would be an action packed full day so straight off the bus I had a tasty big roll and sausage from a transport café takeaway within the bus station itself then headed for the South Inch park lands which was the nearest large green open space five minutes walk from the drop off point. This is a small slice of it here. And again below.

 As you can see here it was an icy day in late December as this was a post I did in the wintertime and I'm only getting around to it now. South Inch park is a pleasant flat open meadow popular with dog walkers with a nice wooden boardwalk across a large pond that led me down to the river.

A male goosander, a slim, fish eating, diving duck on the River Tay. Many years ago, decades ago in fact, I'd walked across the elevated pedestrian walkway over this wide substantial river, sometimes prone to winter floods, from one bank to the other, carrying the main railway line from Perth to Dundee. It was an exciting walk on a scorching hot summers day with a close friend that I had very fond memories of so was looking forward to a return visit as on that occasion we hadn't explored the substantial Friarton or Moncrieffe Island, which has a golf course and a large strip of garden allotments adorning it with the extra allure of being stranded out in the middle of the river, only reached by this period structure. Scotland has hundreds of offshore islands but not that many inhabited river ones as they are usually too small and hard to reach. This makes it rather special.

Halfway across, a thin zig zag staircase takes you down vertically to explore the island but on that particular occasion I was young and hasty and other more enticing allures were promised in quieter woodlands on Kinnoull Hill so soft whispers, summer heat, and intoxicating teenage perfume and laughter led me badly astray. This was worthwhile in every way but, as ever, a tiny part of me fancied Moncrieffe Island as well. Appetizer and main meal but no pudding thereafter.  I'd never had the chance to come back again until now. Sadly alone this time. The normal history of getting older and losing friends due to age related progressive isolation that everyone has to fight against or become an island themselves. It's usually men that are more likely to be affected by this, especially stoic, less gregarious types.
Even with dry weather and zero snow melt there was a powerful current going past this island, which at times must experience high water levels and serious flooding although the golf course club house and allotment huts manage to survive somehow.
Perth seen from Moncrieffe Island. A path leads past the allotments to the golf course then back in the opposite direction to the upstream end but a bit like Perth itself it was fairly pleasant without being spectacular in any way and I was very glad I'd taken that different option many moons ago. A wise move for both of us it turned out. Or maybe it's just I'd built it up over decades in my mind to be this mystery illusive island on maps I still hadn't visited before and the reality was............not bad just pretty mundane.
The allotments on Moncrieffe Island. On the plus side I still had Kinnoull Hill Park to look forward too and I already knew what to expect there.
A large expanse of mixed woodlands rising to upper slopes still draped in morning mists which I was hoping would burn off....
Plenty of wildlife- winter plumage goldfinches here so not much gold on show. Might be juveniles.
A dramatic clifftop view from the escarpment high-point where the hillside plunges abruptly down towards the River Tay below.
A cracking view of the river snaking away into the distance in the direction of Dundee. In the time of sailing craft and busy river traffic as a main highway two rich land owners built a couple of romantic ruins to adorn their neighbouring hillsides (to be viewed from the river) and they still stand to this day- inspired by similar Germanic castles seen on river cruises popular in former times during grand European tours and that concept transported to Scotland. Scotland has plenty of genuine ruined castles of its own of course, just annoyingly for the land owners, not on their property. A minor irritation soon fixed with a folly version.  And very nice it is too. At one time Perth had a viable if small port and docklands when goods always travelled by sea and river instead of land.
Nightfall comes early to Scotland in winter and by the time I'd struggled up to the summit viewpoint dusk was only a couple of hours away.
You do get some spectacular sunsets at this time of year though.
A view of the main transport links between Perth and Dundee.
The vertical cliffs plunging down from the summit tower.
Another part of the City of Perth viewed from Kinnoull Hill.
My best ever attempt at photographing a jay- a very illusive and wary forest bird but vividly coloured- related to magpies and crows and a similar size. Heard often in forests but rarely seen except as a high canopy glimpse of wings disappearing at speed between tall trees, never to be seen again. I was so close to getting good on the ground photographs of them this time I lingered far too long, time wise, in the forest. Over an hour and loads of furtive creeping for this not bad but not great effort.A very smart wary bird unless you're in a hide, professionally patient and static camouflaged in stake out mode, or just extremely lucky.

Autumn last year I went to see this band 'Cloudbusting' at the Oran Mor in Glasgow's West End. £17 a ticket for an almost two hour show. Really enjoyed it and a great night. Standing only in the Oran Mor so not a seated gig at this event. It was much more of a rock concert as a result than this video suggests, a less sedate affair, with more lively audience participation throughout and occasional stage banter from the charismatic young singer and band but I like this gentler version as well as you have to vary it depending on the audience. A standing active crowd are generally noisier overall, especially a Glasgow one, but offer more feedback if an act really delivers and they did.   An outstanding tribute band and at £100 plus for the original rarely seen artist a fantastic alternative well worth catching. Every bit as good as well without having to travel to London for shows as it was a nationwide tour they were on and Kate is not known for that these days when she does perform live. I had a great time with some memorable highlights.



Linda W. said...

Wonderful sunset shot! Always nice to see more of your lovely country.

Anabel Marsh said...

I rather like Perth! We’ve had a couple of good weekends there.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Linda.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
Everyone has different tastes. Not being a shopper I've driven through the central heart of Perth many times and apart from the River Tay and the museum (still to come in part two) I've never seen anything that's made me want to explore further in that central grid of streets. Unusual as nearly every other place that size or smaller I notice something I want to see closer out of curiousity. I only thought of a trip to Perth after reading your blog on it but there again it was the river section that appealed and inspired me.

NanaDiana said...

Hi- Thank you for leaving me a comment on my blog! You have a blog and I will be your newest follower right after I send this comment through. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday- Diana

NanaDiana said...

I don't see any side button that allows me to follow your blog? Anyway- I will be back to visit again. Diana

blueskyscotland said...

Hi NanaDiana,
Thank you for dropping in. Hope you found it interesting.

Carol said...

I'm pretty sure I've never seen a jay outside of a book so well done for the photo. The hillwalk above town looks really great with superb views. I've never deliberately gone into Perth as it seems to take forever by car to get into it - it takes a really long time to queue your way through the outskirts on the way to Blairgowrie (which I call 'The Raspberry Capital of Britain') ;-)

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
Walking uphill through the woods I had three jays on the ground foraging for acorns, my best ever sighting and really close but of course by the time I got the camera out, even though it's at my waist on a belt, they'd shot up into the trees again. Otters are easier to get close to as I've seen them really close several times on walks and kayak trips. Very spectacular bird a jay but so rarely seen.
You would like Kinnoull Hill and there is a free car park halfway up it. Popular viewpoint and miles of woodland trails. Also a UK jay hot spot.

Andy said...

Like you, I've only visited Perth a fuel stop for chips or a proper meal when feeling a little more flush. I've always thought Kinnoull Hill would be a fine view point and so it proves. Added bonus of a great view of a Motorway Junction (private joke with Mark and me!)

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
Kinnoull Hill is worth a visit and the Riverside circuit and islands would also be an interesting alternative on a wet day, being fairly sheltered. Both these are good options if poor conditions as Scotland does not have an abundance of wet weather alternatives compared to the Lake District.

Mark said...

Years ago TBH and I had a couple of holidays in this area, I think I took a paternity week just after one of the kids had been born. I liked Perth, particularly the islands and Kinnoull Hill which I've always had in mind for the projected book on Small Hills with Disproportionately Good Views, which we've been talking about for so long that we seem to have let somebody get in ahead of us with the idea.