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As a largely rural area, field sports are very popular with locals and visitors alike in Perthshire. This area is home to some of Scotland's finest estates, well-stocked with game, where it is possible to arrange shooting parties in season. As well as enjoying a fine day's sport, you will also be amongst some of Perthsire's most attractive scenery - from sweeping moorland to heather-clad hillsides. The area is also home to a number of approved locations where you can learn the art of clay pigeon shooting or polish up on your existing skills in the company of experienced, approved instructors. With expert tuition and excellent facilities, shooting in Perthshire is a very enjoyable and satisfying pastime. It's also a very popular form of corporate entertainment for larger parties.
Who hasn't imagined the thrill of being at the wheel of a powerful four by four as you tackle off road conditions? You can do it in Perthshire. Sit in the driving seat of a powerful Landrover 110 Turbo Diesel and experience the excitement of pitting your driving skills against some really rough terrain. As well as specialist off-road driving centres, Perthshire provides multi-activity centres where you might also like to try your hand at riding quad bikes. These all-terrain bikes can go just about anywhere, and it's a great way to experience the landscape and scenery.
Perthshire looks fantastic from any angle - from our rivers, our hills, and - as you'll discover - from the air. The adventurous can take to the skies in a parachute, a hang glider or at the controls of a light aircraft. The area has excellent approved training schools where you can learn any of these skills. If you'd rather someone else did the flying, climb aboard as a passenger and take an aerial tour of Perthshire or join the passengers on a sea plane that takes off and lands at Loch Earn. The views are spectacular. The Scottish Gliding Union has its headquarters at Portmoak by Loch Leven where the landscape and favourable prevailing winds create perfect conditions for the sport.
Perthshire abounds with historic sites and ancient castles. Most are open to public view, and many have excellent visitor facilities. Here are just a few. In ancient times, Scotland's Kings were crowned at Scone Palace, home to the famous Stone of Destiny until it was stolen by Edward I in 1296. Today, Scone Palace houses a magnificent collection of fine furniture, china, clocks and ivories. Picturesque, turreted Blair Castle is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Atholl. Here you can see fine collections of paintings, porcelain, furniture and weaponry. The grounds house a deer park and nature trail.
Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle for almost a year before her dramatic escape in 1568. You can visit the island stronghold by ferry. The 4,000 acre loch is a nature reserve which offers fine trout fishing and excellent bird watching. Dunkeld was proclaimed Scotland's ecclesiastical capital in the 9th century. Work began on its magnificent cathedral in 1318. All but ruined in the reformation, you can visit its restored choir, and trace the town's heritage at the Chapter House Museum. Once an important ancient, Pictish settlement, Abernethy is now an attractive conservation village which is home to a well preserved 11th century round tower - one of only two on Scotland's mainland.
Whether your interests lie with Scottish painters or standing stones, Perthshire has something to offer everyone, in a wide variety of museums. The history of Perthshire's illustrious regiment, the Black Watch, is told through exhibits, documents, memorabilia and regimental colours at a museum dedicated to the regiment at Balhousie Castle in Perth. Still in Perth, you can follow the career of one of Scotland's most famous colourists, J. D. Fergusson. This award winning gallery is home to a superb collection of the artistŐs gloriously vibrant work including sculuptures, sketch books, illustrations and paintings. Perth Museum and Art Gallery is another award winner - thanks to its natural history gallery. It also houses excellent fine art and applied art exhibits, together with a fascinating new local history gallery. Just eight miles from Perth, Meigle Museum takes you back in time to explore Scotland's Celtic Christian past through a collection of over twenty mysterious carved stones and monuments.
Perthshire's gentle climate and fertile soil mean the area abounds with colourful plantlife - together with some of the country's finest gardens. Perth is a regular winner of Scotland in Bloom, a winner of Britain in Bloom, and took third in a Europe-wide competition, Entente Florale. The whole district takes part in "Perthshire in Bloom" , so, from window boxes to formal gardens and parks, Perthshire has never looked more colourful. At Drummond Castle's gardens, you can stroll round a perfect example of a superb Italian formal garden which includes a very unusual sundial and some exquisite statuary. Bell's Cherrybank Gardens has 18 acres of immaculately landscaped gardens, including pools, waterfalls, an aviary, and the Bell's national heather collection. Just two acres in size, but no less spectacular, is Branklyn Garden.
Now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland, it is home to a superb plant collection, including a particularly fine range of alpines. Within the town of Perth, you can relax in the superb public parks known as the North and South Inches. Originally the town's public grazing meadows, the Inches are spacious riverside parks complete with golf course, bowling, boating, and children's play areas.
From the water of life to the milling of the oatmeal that was once the staple diet of many Scots, Perthshire keeps alive many of its ancient skills. And you can watch our craftsmen at work. Here are just a few suggestions. Discover the art of turning water and barley into whisky at Scotland's oldest distillery, Glenturret. Take a guided tour, enjoy a visit to the heritage centre with its audio visual displays - then savour a free sample of the amber nectar. Just down the road at Crieff Visitor Centre, the Thistle Pottery and Perthshire Paperweights have guided tours and factory shops where you can buy souvenirs of your visit.
You can watch glass makers at work at Caithness Glass, as they transform molten glass into the stunning paperweights, vases and decorative bowls for which Caithness Glass is famed. Browse round the factory shop and discover why these pieces become collectors' items. In Aberfeldy, a lovingly restored water mill grinds oats as it has done for hundreds of years. You can see the mill working, learn about its history and the importance of the miller in days gone by at a fascinating exhibition, then buy some of the mill's own oatmeal from the mill shop.
With so many things to do and see in Perthshire, the only problem is finding enough time to do them all. Here are a few you should definitely make time for. The Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, by Crieff is a great favourite with families. It's home to Highland Cows, domesticated and wild animals. There's a collection or rare and ornamental birds, a unique hatchery for wild birds, and a popular handling area. Another sight you shouldn't - and couldn't - miss is Meikleour Beech Hedge, just outside Blairgowrie. Planted back in 1746, the hedge made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest hedge at 600 yards long and over 100 ft high.
At Pitlochry Dam and Fish Ladder, you can see a hydro electric power station at work and watch salmon from an underground viewing chamber as they navigate their way up the river, safely by-passing the dam in a specially constructed "fish ladder".; As well as being a glorious beauty spot, Killiecrankie was the site of a famous battle in 1689 when the Jacobites defeated William III's army. You can learn its story at The National Trust for Scotland's Killiecrankie Visitor Centre.