As mentioned in my previous post, the final morning of our stay in Scotland, we had intended to visit Nairn and Elgin along the Firth of Forth coast. Unfortunately, having been met with departure boards showing cancelled, we weren’t able to head east and so, after a rapid replan, jumped onboard an ScotRail class 170 bound for Edinburgh with the plan to jump of in another of Scotland’s seven cities, Perth.
After a couple of hours onboard we arrived into Perth’s magnificent station just before 1300 and so decided we’d first make our way to a restaurant we’d found before exploring the city after we’d eaten. Heading along King’s Place the first noticeable building was St. Leonard’s in the Fields church which appears to have a crown atop its tower. The church is of a Gothic Revival style, having been designed by J.J. Stevenson, architect of a number of Scottish churches and is now designated as a Category A listed building (similar to Grade I in England).
Turning down Scott Street the other initial impression we got of Perth was how bright and open the streets seemed to be. Part of this might be the prominence of sandstone as the primary construction material for many buildings with its lighter colour brightening the city, however the main thoroughfares did also seem wider than normal which would also help to make the city feel open.
Located on the north edge of the city centre next to the Perth Concert Hall is North Port, a family-run restaurant serving traditional Scottish dishes, located in one of Perth’s 18th century town houses. With the building constructed in 1774, the restaurant had a cozy feel with low ceilings which had been embraced to give a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The service was excellent, and we had barely made it through the door before we were asked for our coats and taken to a table by a window, providing an interesting view given the ground floor of the restaurant was a couple of foot below street level.
As with our other meals in Scotland, I’m not going to write about them in detail as Beth is going to be writing a guest post covering all the wonderful food we had whilst north of the border. However, what I will say is that it was out of this world and if I lived in Perth this would become my regular restaurant because the food and service were just that good!
With limited time before we need to get a train back to Inverness, we decided it was time to start exploring Perth properly and so started by heading towards the Cathedral Church of St. Ninian, better known as Perth Cathedral. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived the cathedral had closed for the day, and so we were only able to wander around the outside of the Category A listed building. Although consecrated in 1850, some parts of the cathedral are as modern as 1936, with it having been built in numerous stages as the Scottish Episcopal Church continued to grow.
Heading back along the south edge of North Inch, the 54 hectare park to the north of the city centre, we discovered numerous plaques, memorials and monuments commemorating the various historic events that have occurred in the area. Most significantly was the ‘Battle of the Clans’ in 1396 which reputedly saw the Clan Chattan and the “Clan Quhele” fight in a stage battle in front of Spectators including King Robert III of Scotland. Thirty men fought for each side and the Clan Chattan killed all but one of their opponents with 19 deaths of their own warriors.
Another memorial on North Inch is a statue commemorating Prince Albert, Prince Consort which was unveiled by Queen Victoria in 1864, three years after her husband’s death. Along the road there is a plaque which commemorates The Jacobites assembling on North Inch in both 1715 and 1745, as part of the uprisings in those years. Following our brief walk through history, we continued on to the appropriately named Tay Street which runs alongside the River Tay.
Our walk along the river provided us with some stunning views of the very autumnal looking east bank of the river, whilst Tay Street is also home to some more fine-looking architecture with the Former Middle Church, St. Matthew’s Church and the Sheriff Court House. At the north end of the street is Smeaton’s Bridge which, when opened in 1771, ended a 150-year period of boats being used to cross the river in this location following the demolition of the previous bridge in 1621.
Diverging off Tay Street we continued our walk south via Princes Street and passed under the railway bridge, the former location of Perth’s second station, Perth Princes Street. This station was located on what is now the single line section of the Tay Coast line through Perth and was less than half a mile from the main Perth station. Despite it sitting on the doorstep of its larger neighbour, Princes Street station and its goods yard managed almost 120 years of operations before being closed in February 1966.
Our final stop before heading back to the station was The Pavillion in South Inch for a warming drink after a refreshing walk around the city. South Inch, along with North Inch, was granted to the city, when it was a royal burgh, by King Robert II in 1374. It is the smaller of the two ‘Inches’ at 31 hectares and unfortunately has a main road running through it, splitting the eastern third from the main park. In 1651, Oliver Cromwell came to Perth following his victory in the Battle of Dunbar and established a fortified citadel in the northeast corner of the inch, using stone from the Our Lady’s Chapel he demolished.
Whilst our visit to Perth was brief, it was thoroughly enjoyable with excellent food at North Port and a chance to see what another of Scotland’s cities has to offer. With more time we’d have made the effort to visit The Black Watch Castle or the Perth Museum and so definitely want to come back to see what they have to offer along with hopefully getting inside the cathedral.