Hometown Highlights: Crieff

“You’re not writing about Crieff are you?”

This was the recent response from one of my flatmates when I told her I was going to be writing about my hometown. I can only imagine that her condescending tone and excessive eye-rolling was due to the fact that my small rural Perthshire town does not have quite the same appeal or fame as some of the exciting cities and exotic-sounding countries from which many of our student population seem to come. And she has a point: when asked the standard “where are you from?” the response of “Crieff” doesn’t often provoke a “wow” and has rarely even merited an “oh, that’s cool”. Indeed, I think that during my Freshers’ Week some may have thought that ‘Crieff’ was just an odd noise I had made as I was fed up of being asked the question.

Yet, despite our lack of international (or even national) recognition, Crieff does still seem to attract a surprising amount of tourists all year round; perhaps they just got lost on their way back from Nessie-spotting up north. Whatever their reasoning, there is at least enough going on here to keep visitors entertained for some 48 hours. So, if you are looking for a wee day out, I will now do my best to convince you to head for this town that is pretty much like St Andrews but with no beach or university in sight and not nearly as many high street shops, restaurants or golf courses. Enticing? Thought so.

If, after that eulogy-esque introduction to my hometown, you are still considering a trip to this St Andrews of the countryside (©EmmaRobertson) here’s what I’d recommend…

 Where to wander…

The whole town sits on the side of large hill called ‘The Knock’. A ‘walk up the knock’ is a standard much-loved weekend activity for locals, tourists, youths and pensioners alike, providing some postcard-perfect views, particularly on sunny or snowy days. After all, Ewan Macgregor used to wander these paths and even featured our beloved Knock on one of his TV motorbike thingys – yes, before he was famous and moved to L.A. he was, in fact, a Crieff person (n.b. this town is too small to have a collective noun for its inhabitants).

 Where to eat…

Surprisingly, Crieff offers an impressive selection of places to eat out: including two restaurants at the ‘famous’ Crieff Hydro Hotel and some Scottish-French fusion over at ‘Yann’s’ and its sister restaurant ‘The Lounge’. However, we locals are most likely to do coffee/lunch/dinner at ‘Delivino’ (featured in ‘Scotland The Best’ guide and List Magazine’s Guide to Eating and Drinking) thanks to its somehow European atmosphere and quite possibly the best pizza in Scotland – Empire and Dervish eat your heart out. Speaking of which, Crieff is also known for an astonishing takeaway:population ratio if you prefer a student-budget alternative.

 Where to go out…

Ah. Slight problem here. Going out in Crieff isn’t exactly a thing – I’m afraid there’s not a club to be had unless you Lizard-goers are brave (crazy) enough to go through to Perth. However, the Caledonian (affectionately known as the Cally) in the square is fine for a reasonably priced/tastefully furnished public house experience with the locals – or, if you ‘cannae hack it’, stick to the bars at the Hydro with all the lost tourists.

 What else can you do?

Go celeb-spotting. Seriously. Gerard Butler, Ewan McGregor and Orlando Bloom are just a few of the stars to have graced our pavements – a small sheltered town in the country is the perfect place to hide from crazy stalker fans, you see. So be sure to pack your binoculars and zoom lenses. And, if you have any success, tell Mr Bloom I’m still waiting for him to call…

 

Title illustration by Elsa McBride. Other images sourced from Jane SmithEleanor MillerIain Gordon, What the what and Elisabeth Johansen. Edited by Ruoting Tao.

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