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May 2017+

Perth and Kinross Coat of Arms

Although born in Perth,  Ewan McGregor, OBE, grew up in nearby Crieff although there's no sign of the sabre-wielding[1] Scotsman today.

Perhaps he's walking the dogs down in Macrosty Park that looks from the drive in like the biggest park in Britain?

It's not, actually, even though there are four parks in total, each with their own watery divide.

[1] He certainly wasn't shy in some of those earlier roles, right ladies?

There's still a good hour's worth in here although it's quite a  Long Way Down[1] from town and highlights include a weir and a bandstand.

[1] It's not really but since McGregor never appeared in Not Too Far Down with bumbly  Boorman where they biked it from Chiswick to Chichester, say, how else is this rather ropey theme going to be established?

You can extend your stay in Taylor Park by accidentally dropping the bag for your binocs off the bridge into Barvick Burn.

There's no point getting too  Brassed Off about it, though, simply chase after it with a stick then try to retrieve it like a five-year-old.

  Crieff Visitor Centre (Muthill Road)

There's a fair sized restaurant-come-café, a Caithness Glass studio, the mandatory gift shop and a Garden Centre next door.

Oh! Nearly forgot the Highland Drovers Exhibition and yes, since you ask, it was raining that day.

Barvick Burn runs south under a bridge and then west into the River Earn.

If you're that way inclined, and\or it's too early to check into your lodgings, there's a riverside ramble to be done. There are no bridges along here but don't even think about wading across.

While it may look  Shallow, Grave warnings are issued of deep water in places and you'll have to return the same way or loop north to Laggan Road and follow the signs for Lady Mary's Walk.

Highlights along here include the goosander[1], it's thought, whose diet largely consists of tiddlers. You might also see the heron, twice, who ain't interested in no sticklebacks, he's hanging around here for the  Big Fish.

[1] Might be a merganser of the red-breasted variety.

  Lady Mary's Walk

Check out  Lady Mary's Walk, half of which is along the river with additional highlights including a mole that lives in a tree.

If only he wasn't blind as a, erm, mole, he probably doesn't even know there's a load of toys there to play with?

Meanwhile, back in Crieff, there's an award-winning takeaway at the bottom of the high street although that's unlikely to be in the 'Best Shop Front' category.

No, the 'Best Speciality Takeaway in Scotland' even if the menu is largely a list of your usual suspects. Curries, Kebabs and Pizzas so it's not like they're doing, erm,  moules-en-rouge wine sauce or something?

Heading uphill, a pleasant public square is revealed and the Victorian architecture is a reminder of how visitors once poured into this former spa town but more on that in a minute.

Numbers are down nowadays, naturally, although a few, fancy-looking new restaurants[1] suggest an upsurge together with the reopening of the Visitor Centre in the old Town Hall under a local, development initiative.

[1] The Craobh, Lounge but the Stag & Thistle also now looks to be closed.

Despite some similar community mindedness, that initiative doesn't extend to the Drummond Arms Hotel, still standing empty after more than 10 years.

Worst of all, a more recent casualty of the economy, the Strathearn Country Store is now closed! This one has been known to source his 'Winter Collection' here and struggling one year with a snug fitting fleece, a call was made to the stockroom for a larger size...

'  Jack! The giant's layer!'

  Avanti (High Street)

Good value Italian restaurant that's in an old bank and the bill for their old-skool fayre won't break it.

At least it wouldn't have if it was still open! A quick double-check sees it permanently closed[1] but it's being kept it in for the photo.

[1] Now reopened as the less-authentic sounding, but definitely  Italian, KB's.

  The Gurkha's (East High Street)

Nepalese restaurant but with all of your high-street Indian favourites if you're a bit more Calcutta than Kathmandu.

Promptly promoted over a larger and lairy party, it pays to pitch up as polite and not partly pie-eyed although there's some work to be done to pip the one in Sheringham, sorry.

In the time-honoured tradition of toffs at the top, the housing up and around Strathearn Terrace really is rather fancy. Two imposing churches would once have provided the services on a Sunday on such subjects as a  Young Adam & Eve although other parables were available.

Due, again, to dwindling numbers, St Michael's now just provides a big room to rent for Crieff Parish Chuch and can be found just down and over the road.

Back in the mid-1800s, those services would have been attended by puritanical, Victorian types who had come here to 'take the waters' but it's still not known where those waters supposedly were.

In fact, the single source of the  Blue Juice appears to be a solitary, medieval well nearby, which would barely wet a whistle never mind a bustle.

  Tower Gastro Pub & Apartments (East High Street)

Satisfactory lodgings with a cosy bar and a beer garden although their 'gastronomousity' can't be confirmed.

They were fully booked for a private party, you see, and it was grub in the Gurkhas for this pair.

If the 'taking of the waters' makes Dr Thomas Henry Meikle sound like a bit of a  Rogue, Trader in the restoratively ropey, let's hope not because his family still run the Crieff Hydropathic Establishment and they might be listening in.

Known simply today as the Crieff Hydro, it was until fairly recently in need of its own restoration but after significant investment, this up-market  leisure resort chain now looks to be booming.

They were a different kind of dry until 1994 when only then did they start serving alcohol. They've also dropped the fine for not saying grace before dinner although that came a lot earlier.

They've even expanded into Yorkshire where, on a wet Wednesday afternoon in Harrogate, you can watch  t'rain spotting on t'pavement.

  Knock Castle Hotel & Spa (Drummond Terrace)

If the Hydro isn't luxurious enough for you, this place is knocking £200 a night and you can double that with dinner thrown in.

The Hydro's 'Luxury' holiday lodges in the woods behind are in a New England style so it feels a little bit  American past or along here.

Follow in the footsteps of those sober Victorians who would have been encouraged to 'take the fresh air' or walk up a hill if you'd rather.

Fine views east to Fife, it's thought, and north-west over Strathearn from atop the 'Knock' where a viewpoint indicator will point you in the right direction.

On your way down, you might be fooled into thinking that's the Melville Monument, six miles west near Comrie?

Not so, and the Baird Monument's not quite so  far, go along the earlier seen river to reach it. You might pass some weary, bathing Victorians since the river's actually the source of the water they've been mis-sold on their spa weekend.

You might be tempted to re  mark, 'Rent one of these cottages instead why don't you?' They're right next to the river and much handier for it than the Hydro.

  The Famous Grouse Experience (Glenturret Distillery, The Hosh)

Guided tours and a visitor centre for those fond of a drop of uisge. Loch Turret supplies the water as it once did for... the Crieff Hydro!

Too much time has already been spent trying to debunk that and it's now too late to backtrack.