things to do
Kirriemuir, whose famous sons include Peter Pan writer J M Barrie, actor David Niven, geologist Charles Lyell, mountaineer Hugh Munro and AC/DC member Bon Scott, is an attractive, friendly and easy-going town of around 5,000 people situated in the County of Angus.
v & a museum of design, dundee
kirriemuir square and the peter pan statue
author j m barrie's childhood home
cobbled streets in the centre of kirriemuir
camera obscura, kirrie hill
the den, kirriemuir
rspb loch of kinnordy nature reserve
egnomoss, two miles to the west of kirriemuir (a rare example of raised bogland)
bon scott (of ac/dc) statue
strathmore and the sidlaw hills
a short walk from kirriemuir town centre
glamis (image by anne burgess)
loch brandy from the crags of green hill, glen clova (image by gordon hatton)
seaton cliffs nature reserve
arbroath smokies (image by anne burgess)
the reekie linn, just over the county border in perthshire
the old course, st andrews, fife
scotland's four major cities can all be reached within two hours (image by kelsey chance)
the crandard (after which we're named!)
The county includes spectacular coastal scenery, fertile farmland and the majestic mountains and deep glens of the southern Cairngorms National Park. There are plentiful opportunities to enjoy a range of outdoor and indoor sports such as skiing, mountaineering, rock climbing, fishing, golf, horse riding, ice-skating and swimming.
Many visual artists live and work Angus and you’ll find a very lively music scene, especially in terms of traditional music. There are fine restaurants and pubs, malt-whisky distilleries, museums, historic castles (some with blood-curdling legends attached) and enigmatic ancient monuments. The county also has a number of internationally important nature reserves. It’s easy to travel beyond Angus in less than a day, to the major Scottish cities, the East and West Coasts and to the Highlands.
VISITOR ATTRACTIONS IN KIRRIEMUIR
The Gateway to the Glens Museum in The Square is an excellent small museum which gives a splendid overview of the town and local area and has varied special exhibitions throughout the year. Entry is free.
The National Trust for Scotland runs Barrie’s House, the perfectly preserved cottage in which Peter Pan author J M Barrie grew up. Packed with memorabilia about the writer, it’s also a fine example of a typical nineteenth-century Kirriemuir weaver’s home and in addition a visit allows you to view the original Wendy House. Barrie aficionados might also enjoy visiting the author’s grave which is clearly marked in Kirriemuir Cemetery, accessed from either Kirrie Hill or Brechin Road, likewise, ‘A Window in Thrums’, the eponymous cottage and a stone’s throw from The Crandard at the top of Forfar Road (note that the cottage is a private residence and can only be viewed from the street. Please respect the residents’ privacy).
Many parts of Kirriemuir are formed of rows of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century former handloom weavers’ cottages. Built of the local red sandstone they can be identified by the paired ground-floor windows, designed to provide extra light for weaving in the ‘loom shops’. Take a walk up The Roods or visit the Southmuir to see some good examples.
Kirriemuir and its environs abound in Medieval, Dark-Age and Prehistoric monuments, including standing stones (on Kirrie Hill and across the modern road from Caddam Woods, for example), Pictish carved stones (now mostly housed in the Meffan Museum in Forfar) and historic holy wells (there’s one half a mile or so from Caddam Woods).
The Camera Obscura on Kirrie Hill is run by the Kirriemuir Regeneration Trust and gives a 360º view of the town and its surroundings, including the prime agricultural valley of Strathmore and the rising foothills or ‘braes’ of the Cairngorm Mountains.
RSPB Loch of Kinnordy Nature Reserve hosts a plethora of avian visitors throughout the year including ospreys in the summer. You can also spot otters, red squirrels, deer and see evidence of concerted beaver activity along the banks of the Gairie Burn, which flows out of the loch.
Follow the Gairie into Kirrie Den, a mile-long park set in a beautiful natural valley. There’s a small waterfall, plenty of dog-walking space and a good play park.
Kirriemuir has a considerable musical heritage, which includes being the hometown of the young Bon Scott of AC/DC. You can visit a statue of the rocker at the foot of Bellie’s Brae. The annual BonFest sees heavy-music fans from around the world visit the town for a weekend packed with gigs. In 2019 the Fest takes place from 3-5 May (www.bonfest.com).
There’s plenty of traditional music in Kirriemuir too, with a weekly open session on a Tuesday evening (from 9pm onwards) at Three Bellies Brae bar. There are regular Strathspey and Reel Society meetings in St Andrews Chuch Hall and the Kirrie Festival at the beginning of September is one of Scotland’s oldest folk festivals. A weekend-long event, it welcomes performers, sessioneers and traditional-music fans from all around the country and far beyond (www.kirriefestival.org).
THE COUNTY OF ANGUS
The valley of Strathmore has some of the best agricultural land in Scotland and is the source of a wealth of exquisite local produce, from Aberdeen-Angus beef, to top-quality soft fruits and the fine barley used by numerous local brewers and distillers. Check out the Gin Bothy Experience in Glamis https://www.ginbothy.co.uk
Glamis, approximately 10 miles south of Kirriemuir, offers numerous attractions for the visitor, including Glamis Castle. This ancient former royal hunting lodge is home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne and is a building of striking design laden with tradition and lore which is open to the public for guided tours and a programme of very varied events. The village holds conservation status and includes remarkable vernacular buildings, a holy well and Pictish carved stones.
The Meffan and Forfar
A council-run museum and art gallery in Forfar which holds, amongst other things, a remarkable range of carved Pictish stones from the local area. Further Pictish stone collections can be seen at Meigle and in situ at Aberlemno. If in Forfar, make sure to try the famous Forfar Bridie, a large traditional meat pasty best bought (they say) at either Saddler’s or Maclaren’s bakers.
The Angus Glens
The Angus Glens are rightly famed and even host their own Walking Festival in June. Wildest by far is Glen Clova which leads in turn to Glen Doll and from there you can rock climb, reach the summits of several munros or take the Jock’s Road path to Braemar. There’s a comfortable hotel in Glen Clova serving good food and drink.
Glen Isla straddles the border with Perthshire and is a fertile, more wooded glen and holds part of the Cateran Trail long-distance path.
Glen Prosen is easily reached from Kirriemuir and the relatively short journey to the head of the glen sees remarkable changes in the landscape, from rich farmland and woodland to some of the wildest terrain in the British Isles. The Minister’s Path from the hamlet of Balnaboth in Glen Prosen leads over to Glen Clova.
Glen Esk is the longest of the Angus glens is usually accessed from the village of Edzell. At its head is scenic Loch Lee, with another path over to Glen Clova, and there’s a folk museum with cafe mid-way in the glen at The Retreat.
Arbroath Abbey and Cliffs
The coastal town of Arbroath holds the ruins of the abbey at which the Declaration of Scottish Independence was written and signed in 1320. The town has an attractive harbour and remarkable coastal scenery, including the dramatic stacks, arches and caves of the Seaton Cliffs Nature Reserve, to the east. It’s famous also for its smoked haddocks or ‘smokies’.
Brechin and the House of Dun
A trip east from Kirriemuir takes you to the tiny ‘city’ of Brechin, with its medieval-plan High Street and its remarkable cathedral and round tower. Continuing east, halfway to the seaport of Montrose, you can visit the National Trust of Scotland’s eighteenth-century House of Dun, the family home of author and poet Violet Jacobs.
A RSPB nature reserve of international importance located in a tidal basin on the outskirts of Montrose. The town also boasts a dune-lined beach and longstanding tradition of maritime trade. There’s a musical festival at the end of May which attracts global acts.
Close to the village of Inverkeillor is the spectacular and often virtually deserted sandy beach of Lunan Bay, one of Scotland’s hidden gems.
Home to the famous championship golf course, Carnoustie hosted The Open this year (the eighth time it has done so), from 19-22 July.
Scotland’s third and fourth largest cities, Aberdeen and Dundee, can be reached in an hour or less from Kirriemuir. Both cities offer numerous shopping, cultural and recreational opportunities.
Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, and its largest city, Glasgow, can also be easily visited in a couple of hours each way by car or, slightly longer, by public transport.
Smaller urban centres within easy reach include historic Stirling and Perth and the vibrant, quaint university town of St Andrews with its famous golf course.
The Scottish Highlands are, especially for those travelling by car, accessible as a day excursion. Try going north through the Grampian Mountains to Inverness or take the stunning route across the counties of Perthshire and Argyll to Oban on the Atlantic west coast. Skiers will be delighted to know that the Glenshee Ski Centre can be reached in about an hour.
beautiful strathmore in winter
heading down into glen doll (image by stuart meek)
white caterthun iron-age hillfort, brechin (image by ewen rennie)
st fergus's 8th-century holy well, glamis
details from eassie pictish cross slab and symbol stone (above and right)
looking to the angus braes
glenshee ski centre with coire fionn and glas maol (image by flossiesheep)
rrs discovery, dundee