Eurowalk 1 – Burial Ground to War Graves

About a a mile and half – all on pavements, one short rise

The starting point for this walk is Greyfriars Burial Ground. There are entrances to this either on Tay Street or Canal Street. There is a car park at the Canal Street entrance. The Burial Ground may be closed because of Covid restrictions but you can see it through the gate.

The Greyfriars were of the Fransiscan order, created in the 13th Century by St Francis of Assisi. Their formation was in some ways an antecedant of the later Protestant Reformation in that it was a reaction to the wealth of the church. Like other fundamentalists, they soon split – within the lifetime of St Francis – into those who sought to follow the dogma conscientiously and those who were more relaxed about the vows of poverty. The Greyfriars were of the latter persuasion.

They were a Europe wide organisation, broadly meant to good works with the poor and sick, although if you read The Summoners Tale from the Canterbury Tales you might be a little sceptical.

From the Burial Ground head briefly up Canal Street and turn right onto Princes Street. At the far end is ‘Cardos’, a restaurant run by a Portugese/French couple. At one stage they had four restaurants in Perth bringing brilliant European cooking to the city. They could do this because there was freedom of movement within the EU which sadly ended on 31st January 2020.

Cardo

Cross South Street and pass through St Anns Close to get to St John’s Kirk. This was initially built in the 13th Century, rebuilt in the 15th Century, divided into 3 churches after the Scottish Reformation and finally put into its current form in the late 19th century.

St Johns Kirk

Beyond the kirk you can see Cafe Tabou which was started by the people now running Cardos and still providing excellent French cuisine. Pass along the vennel beside Cafe Tabou to get to the High Street. Turn right to pass the Balkan Food Shop and before turning left into George Street you can see Breizh, the third restaurant started by the Cardo’s couple. A little way along George Street is Casella and Polgato, a brilliant Italian bakery.

Cafe Tabou
Beizh
Casella ans Polgato

Just beyond Casella and Polgato is an alleyway to the left. Take this which leads you to a little bridge over the Lade. The Lade was constructed in medieval times to divert water from the River Almond to the north into Perth centre to power watermills and other activities.

Bridge over the Lade

Across the aptly named Mill Street is Perth Concert Hall. Musicians were easily able to perform here and then in Paris, Madrid, Berlin or wherever in Europe but must now go through a complicated and expensive bureaucracy if they want to perform in Europe.

Perth Concert Hall

Walk up Mill Street. At the crossroads with Kinnoul Street you can see, on your left, the Sandeman pub. This used to be the Sandeman Public Library, donated by the Sandeman family who made their money from selling Port with its longstanding connection with Portugal.

Carry on along Mill Street and then on to West Mill Street, where the Lade emerges from its below street banishment. You can see the City Mills – part of which is now the eponymous hotel.

City Mills

Beyond this point the walk becomes a little, er, utilitarian. Carry on beyond the hotel and across the Thimblerow car park, cross Caledonian Road, and continue along Long Causeway. Perhaps the only things of interest are that these names hint of older things.

Carry on over the railway bridge. On your left is a business park known as Whitefriars referring at a long gone monastery.

At the next junction, with Feus Road, are the impressive gates to Wellshill cemetary. You can go in here but there is much renovation work in hand which makes the going a little difficult. Instead carry on along (and up) Jeanfield Road. Another entrance to the cemetery is about 500 metres along this road.

Go down the slope and the first thing you come to are the Polish War Graves. They are in the standard Commonwealth War Graves style. Polish forces played an important part in the defeat of Nazism, including as pilots in the Battle of Britain.

Perth Eurowalk 2 – Broxden Park and Ride to the South Inch

About 3 miles, mostly downhill, on farm tracks and narrow earthen paths initially, then on tarmacked paths and pavements.

Broxden Park and Ride was part funded by the European Union. As its name suggests you can get to it either by driving (and parking your car) or by bus – the 7A from Perth City Centre takes you there. As this is a linear walk you will probably need to use the bus either before or after the walk.

Leave the Park and Ride from the set of steps in the part of the car park directly above the bus waiting room. A path above the steps leads you to a bridge across what is the most northerly motorway in the UK. Beyond the motorway a farm track heads off in seemingly the diametrically wrong direction but soon there is a 90 degree left hand turn followed by another a little further on – so now you are heading back towards Perth. But further on the path does another 90 degree turn, this time to the right, so that once again you seem to be heading away from your destination. There are great views from this path to the North, of the hills and mountains beyond the highland fault.

The path runs alongside the unattractively named Gallowspark Woods before you reach a road. This is the top of Necessity Brae – so called because extra horses were needed to get carts up it unlike Needless Road lower down in Perth. These roads are more or less in a straight line and perhaps they are of Roman origin. Although it might be thought that the boundary of the Roman Empire was Hadrian’s Wall, between the Tyne and the Solway Firth or even at the Antoinine Wall between the Forth and the Clyde, there was significant Roman presence in Perthshire. There is a string of Roman signal stations further to the South West along the Gask ridge and just North of Perth, near the confluence of Almond and Tay are the remains of Bertha Roman fort. European influence has always been strong. There is even a legend that Pontius Pilate was born in Fortingall about 40 miles north of Perth. Pilate is usually portrayed as the villain of the Easter story but actually it was the ‘will of the people’.

Cross the road and you will see two paths ahead. You want the one to the right which involves getting up a muddy bank. The path – much narrower now – runs through a strip of woodland separating two fields. This is a delightful part of the walk as the path winds through the trees and bushes. You emerge from the woodland at the corner of a field with a concrete underpass, covered in artistic graffiti, below the motorway.

Beyond the underpass a path runs briefly beside a field before coming to signed junction. Take the left hand option which runs alongside the Craigie Burn which will be your companion for the remainder of the walk. On the left of the path is a fence enclosing the grounds of Pitheavlis, once the World Headquarters of General Accident (GA). GA had operations in many European countries but since being subsumed into what is now Aviva, most or all of these European operations have gone. After a while there is a bridge across the burn. You can either cross this and follow the path steeply through Buckie Braes or just stick to the path by the fence, which is easier going.

The paths meet up at the bottom of the wooded glen of Buckie Braes and then pass some cottages and a small area of allotments. The burn goes underground briefly here and is joined by the Scouring Burn – another unattractive name – which runs down the shallow valley from below your starting point of the Broxden Park and Ride. If you have your timing right you could take some refreshment at the nearby Cherrybank Inn, which dates from the 18th century.

The walk continues on a tarmacked path first past the entrance to Craigie Hill Golf club and then by the woods above the Craigie Burn. Immediately before you reach the first houses, there is narrow path to the left. This leads down through a little grassland until you are right beside the burn. This path ends on another tarmacked one which crosses the burn.

Immediately after the bridge turn right and follow the burn past a tennis club house until you reach another bridge across the burn. Follow the short street to its end and cross another street to follow a path, still beside the burn and past some lock up garages. The path ends where the burn goes beneath another street – the top of Queens Avenue.

Stay next to the burn on the pavement on the right of Queens Avenue. Queens Avenue ends at a small roundabout. Continue in the same direction onto Queen Street – the burn goes off slightly to the right. Only a short distance down Queen Street, is a junction with Windsor Terrace to the right. Take this which goes steeply down to the burn.

When the street turns sharply left go briefly right to see the burn plunging over a small cliff as a waterfall. The building to the right was a mill and has the remnants of a waterwheel on its wall. Retrace your steps to Windsor Terrace and follow it down to its junction with the often busy Glenearn Road. Fortunately there is pedestrian crossing. Go over this and take the path which continues by the burn passing the new primary school to your right.

This path goes under two railway bridges before emerging on the South Inch. If you are really dedicated to following the burn a path continues beside it and continues to do so beyond Edinburgh Road where it runs below the walls of Perth Prison. Perth Prison was built initially to house prisoners of war from the Napoleonic wars – a reminder of the wars that besmirched Europe until 1945. Alternatively either of the other paths just beyond the railway bridges will take you back to the centre of Perth.     

Perth Eurowalk 3 – Art by the Tay

About a mile and a half on mostly level tarmac paths or pavements but with some steps

From the South Inch to Perth Museum and Art Gallery and back

This walk starts by the now closed Ferguson Gallery by the mini-roundabout at the junction of Tay Street, Marshall Place and Shore Road. There is ample parking in the South Inch car park, accessed from Shore Road. The Ferguson Gallery was to be found in in the old water tower building but the cost of maintaining this has become too high and the collection is now in the main Perth Museum and Art Gallery which is the opposite end of Tay Street and which we will pass on our walk.

John Duncan Ferguson is one of the Scottish Colourists, all of whom were active early in the 20th century. He spent much of his artistic career in France and his love for the European life is evident in the warmth of many of his paintings. The ease with which he and his wife, Margaret Morris, moved between living in Scotland and living in France is in sharp contrast to the restrictions which we now all face. Many of Ferguson’s works are unashamedly erotic, including the statue – pictured – outside the closed gallery. A naked female torso is probably an archetypical example of objectification of the female body. But, to be fair, Ferguson and Margaret seemed to share a strong sexual appetite and she features in many of his paintings.

Anyway, calm down and set off along Tay Street, passing under the railway bridge and immediately climb up the steps to the footbridge which runs alongside the railway line. If a train passes while you are crossing this bridge, it will appear to be near enough to touch – although this is not recommended. The bridge passes over Moncrieffe Island which divides the Tay in two. The bridge is an excellent place to see the Tay in all its moods, from muddy raging torrent after heavy rain or when snow melts, to mirror like placidity at high tide on a still day, or crystal like clarity particularly after a dry spell.

Once over the bridge, turn sharply left to follow the paths along the linear park on the east side of the Tay. The park is studded with sculptures, although mostly much more abstract than Ferguson’s. When the path splits, take the right hand fork. It  passes two sandstone columns known as Millais’ window. John Everett Millais – one of the mid-Victorian pre-Raphaelite painters – married Effie Gray whose family lived in Perth. Effie Gray had been married to the famous art critic John Ruskin. Their marriage was annulled because of non-consummation – the polar opposite of Ferguson and Morris.

Continuing on there is a small walled cemetery.- Kinnoull Burial Ground. Sometimes you can get into it – there’s a gate on the right hand (east) side. It contains graves and memorials to many of Effie Gray’s family. Tragically these include, as the picture shows, a great grandson and two great great grandsons of Effie, all killed in the First World War.

There is a Chinese saying, “Better a dog in peace than a man at war”. The origin of the European Union was the desire to avoid for evermore the absurdity, the horrific slaughter of the wars that dominated European history in the first half of the 20th century. We have been fortunate indeed to have lived in peace in Western Europe since 1945.

Beyond the Burial Ground you come to the Rodney Pavilion which is used a gym. Below it are some well tended formal gardens. Take the path immediately to the left as you reach the Rodney Pavilion. This curves back down towards the river. About half way down is a white ‘Peace Pole’ which commemorates the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Continue to the riverside where there is small look out point which includes a board listing all the sculptures in the park.

Continue under Queens Bridge, sticking as close to the river as you can. The path bends and climbs a little before dropping back beside the river. Just beyond a small car park some steps climb up to a cobbled road and a small flight of steps which take you to Perth or Smeaton’s Bridge. Cross the bridge, pausing perhaps to admire the Tay or a distant view of the hills to the north. As you descend towards the west bank of the Tay you can see Perth Museum and Art Gallery where the Ferguson collection is now kept.

Turn left onto Tay Street. This is walled, part of the flood defences erected after the Tay flooded the centre of Perth in 1993. There are small pillars at intervals along the wall. Most of these have engravings – some rather cryptic and others celebrating Perth’s twinning with various European towns. One of the more cryptic pillars has the words, “Ecce Tiber”, inscribed on it. Presumably somebody thought the Tay resembled the river that passes through Rome, although this strikes me as fanciful. A little further down the Tay, the cliffs are surmounted by a folly apparently erected because people thought that stretch resembled the Rhine. Tiber, Rhine – take your pick, but both European.

On the parapet of the wall are some metal inlays giving historical information about Perth. One of these gives information about Perth Harbour, listing all the European places to which Perth was connected. As ships got bigger and problems of dredging the river bed increased, the harbour moved progressively down stream and is now about a mile from the city centre. It is only lightly used but timber is exported from it to Scandanavia and imports of finished timber goods arrive there.

Many older buildings in Eastern Scotland are roofed with pantiles. These came from the Netherlands and were used as ballast on empty ships returning from there – another reminder of the long lasting connections with Europe.

Continue on Tay Street, being careful when you cross the road at the bottom of Queens Bridge, until you reach the start point.   

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