Glenturret is a small glen in the Scottish Highlands of Perthshire, just north of the little town of Crieff. Within easy reach of nearby Glasgow and Edinburgh, this is the southern edge of the true Scottish Highlands, that extend from here to the rough North Coast. It is an area famous for a typical Scottish bird: The Grouse. The easy access makes this a great area for hiking and camping in the hills. It literally takes minutes to go from friendly Crieff town square to the rugged and remote hills of the Highlands. With my company Expedition Factory I organized an early spring mini-expedition to this wonderful place. Please follow me on a virtual tour to Glen Turret:
In April 2015 we fly to Glasgow and rent a car for the two hour drive to Crieff. In this typical Scottish town we stay at the historic Crieff Hydro Hotel, a very nice family resort just outside of town. This hotel is a perfect base to explore the rich history and culture of the Perthshire area.
Awaiting the group that arrives a day later, we do some shopping in preparation of our three-day hiking and camping trip in the Highlands. We like to use local ingredients and cook local specialties for our customers. Not always easy in an expedition camp.
The Glenturret distillery was built in the 1700’s along the small Turret Burn (River Turret), that flows down the valley from the Highland peaks to the North. The distillery uses this water to make the most famous Scottish export product: whisky. A few years ago the Glenturret Distillery was rebranded into the Famous Grouse Experience, marketing the well known Famous Grouse whisky brand. As a result it receives many thousands of visitors for distillery and warehouse tours and tasting sessions. In addition, the distillery houses a very pleasant lounge bar and small restaurant. A perfect place to welcome our guests the Scottish way!
Highland Stew Recipe
Making a Highland Stew is relatively simple. You fry some chopped beef and lamb meat in a large pot with butter, salt and pepper. Bake it brown all around and then add some nice dark local ale, beer or stout. At the same time chop potatoes, onions, carrots, leeks and whatever other vegetables you have and add to the brew. Then add broth (water from the river and beef cubes) to the mixture and let it simmer for at least half an hour to 40 minutes. This can be done on a single camping stove! As our group was rather large, we split over two pots and two stoves. In the pooring rain, but fun to do. Especially when you drink the rest of the ale while waiting. The result is a very tasty meat and vegetable stew. Perfect mountain food!
Practical Information – Hiking in Glen Turret
The Highlands are best accessible through the international airports at Glasgow or Edinburgh. There is decent public transport to Highland towns, but depending on your destination, renting a car may be the easiest and most convenient option. Just remember to drive on the left hand side.For several years we have been using the nice 4-star Crieff Hydro Hotel as a base for Highland trips in the area. It is a large family resort, situated around the historic castle-like hotel main building. It has a full spa and swimming pool, several very nice restaurants, a good bar, a large conference centre and many sports fields. The hotel organizes many activities in the hotel grounds and beyond.
The Famous Grouse Experience may sound a bit tacky, but is in fact one of the nicest distillery visitor centers in Scotland. The distillery tour through the small Glenturret Distillery is very nice. Small groups are led through the different stages of the whisky making process, and visitors have good opportunities to chat with the very nice master distillers and other staff. Of course you get to taste a few wee drams at the end. I recommend ‘upgrading’ your tour to a warehouse tasting experience, where you are guided to the warehouses across the road. Here you get to taste some of the more exclusive whiskies, surrounded by thousands of aging casks and the magical ‘Angel’s Share’. In addition, the ‘Wilde Thyme‘ restaurant above the shop is a great place for coffee, lunch and your weekend dinner.
Glenturret is a great place for hikers of all levels. This being the Highlands though, visitors must be warned that weather is never a given in this part of the world. Winter storms may happen without notice, at any time between October and May. Always come prepared for all types of weather, whatever the official forecast says. Chances are that you will experience all seasons in one day, as this blog post clearly shows. Always bring a map, a GPS and a fully charged phone. Note that there is no phone coverage at most places, but you will have signal on some of the summits mentioned in this post.
You want to be aware of grouse and deer hunting season, when access may be restricted. Fishing is not allowed in Loch Turret and swimming is very dangerous. Wild camping is tolerated, away from any private property and as long as you make 100% sure to leave nothing behind and not destroy any vegetation. Making campfires is dangerous and not recommended in dry conditions, due to the risk of heath fires.