The pretty village of Dunkeld lies among rolling wooded Perthshire hills as they rise to become the Highlands, which made it a stop-off for cattle drovers for generations.
The village’s strategic significance also drew military attention in what became the 1689 Battle of Dunkeld. History buff’s will enjoy a free audio tour of the battle: playable and downloadable here. It recounts a day of much bloodshed between Jacobite and Union forces, which proved a pivotal setback for the Jacobites and near-Armageddon for the village. All but a handful of houses were burnt to the ground, making today’s rows of pretty white-washed houses the result of early 18th-century rebuilding.
Much of the battle took place among the idyllic lawns and trees around the impressive 14th-century cathedral (daily: April–Sept 9.30am–5.30pm; Oct–Mar 9.30am–4pm; free).
It’s on the east bank of the River Tay, and from it you can see Dunkeld’s sister settlement Birnam spread out on the opposite bank. They’re joined by a grand seven-arched 1809 bridge from which a pretty 5-minute signed walk along the Tay takes you to a twisted old Oak. Propped by crutches it’s claimed to be a survivor from William Shakespeare’s time, when his character Macbeth stood on Dunsinane Hill, to the southeast, and declared:
“I will not be afraid of death and bane/Till Birnam Forest come to Dunsinane”.