Destinations / JOURNEY
ground. Crieff, which lies along the River Earn, then became
a center for trading black cattle and distilling whiskey. One
of those long-ago start-ups, Glenturret Distillery, is just
outside town and now open for tours. So is Crieff Hydro, a
still-operational spa that opened nearly 150 years ago.
On a walk down Crieff’s historic High Street we noticed
signs — “Frank’s Hardware: Gifts and Fine China,” “Alan’s
Pet Store,” “The Carpet Shop.” Inside, we’d inevitably find
an apron-clad shopkeeper tending his wares and/or tidying up. There were no nearby Costcos, Wal-Marts or Home
Depots threatening these folks. Other High Street favorites: “Fish in Crieff, “Snip, Tuck and Sew” and “D. Gurley,
Family Butcher.” There was one American touch: a Subway
franchise. But that was it. And at the end of High Street, a
bulletin board bore this posting by William McGonagall, a
19th-century weaver, actor and notoriously bad poet:
Ye lovers of the picturesque, if ye wish to drown your grief.
Take my advice, and visit the ancient town of Crieff.
Return to Gleneagles
After several hours of exploration, we ventured back to
the resort for cocktails and dinner. At Gleneagles, that
happens in a thoroughly historic setting. When the hotel
opened in June of 1924, it was hailed as “a Riviera in the
Scottish Highlands,” which, once you encounter its lush surroundings and interiors, seems to fit. The former Caledonian
Railway Company created the resort as a destination for
its customers; it’s now owned by London-based Diageo, the
world’s largest producer of spirits, whose brands include
Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan and Guinness.
As you can imagine, a first-class hotel built during the
Roaring ’20s is bound to have a handsome bar and dining
room, and here Gleneagles won’t disappoint. The bar features dark mahogany wall paneling, massive amber glass
chandeliers and oversize leather chairs and sofas scattered
here and there. This being Scotland, you might order a Rob
Roy, which, because it is a Scotch martini, comes in a classic
martini glass. For dining, the magnificent Strathearn Room
has a formal touch perfect for a celebratory occasion, complete with inlaid 30-foot-high ceilings and massive Doric
columns. A tuxedoed pianist played “I’d Like To Get You on
a Slow Boat to China” as well-dressed servers took turns
pushing the sterling silver roast trolley from table to table.
Over the past decade Gleneagles has won more than
70 travel, leisure and dining industry awards and was
recently named “Best Golf Resort in the World” by The
Daily Telegram’s travel magazine and “Best UK Rural
Hotel” by the (London) Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
Whether you most remember the golf, the horseback riding, the spa treatments, the fishing, the falconry or simply
dining and imbibing in a magical setting, a visit here is
sure to showcase Scotland in all its greenest glory. M