Abernethy and Elcho Castle

Abernethy Round Tower

Abernethy is a picturesque Perthshire village which we’ve never visited before. Intrigued by the description of its Round Tower, we set off last Sunday to put that right. The first place we called into was Berryfields Tearoom – don’t judge! It was because they hold the tower key – and what an impressive key it is. Not one you could lose easily.

The tower is one of only two remaining Irish Celtic-style towers in Scotland (the other being in Brechin). It dates from around 1100 and, as well as functioning as a bell tower, it has served as a secure place for local people and their possessions in times of danger.

Inside, about 100 steps lead to the roof where there are good views of the village. Despite being April, and theoretically Spring, it was perishing cold up there so we didn’t stay long.

Back outside, we looked at the jougs on the wall in horror – a medieval iron collar and chain used for punishment. Less unpleasant was a stone carved with Pictish symbols, maybe from the 7th century, which was found nearby.

Abernethy village

On returning the key, the smell of food was so enticing that we stayed in the tearoom for lunch (and a warm-up). Good food and friendly service – we recommend it. Fortunately we were planning a walk to get rid of some of the excess calories! First of all, though, we took a gentle stroll around the village which we found very attractive with its pretty cottages.

We also loved Nurse Peattie’s Garden. Nurse Peattie was the District Nurse who served Abernethy from 1936-1963. She travelled around by bicycle until, as she aged, the community clubbed together to buy her a car. The garden was dedicated to her in 1966 and has been maintained and improved ever since – what a lovely story!

Abernethy Glen

A slightly more energetic circular walk of about 3.5km took us to Castle Law via Abernethy Glen. Part of the walk was on a rough track called Witches Road, named after a coven of 22 local women who, according to legend, were burnt to death on Abernethy Hill. Another horrible piece of history.

Elcho Castle

After we’d finished our walk it was still only mid-afternoon, so we drove a few miles further to Elcho Castle, a place we have visited before but not for many years. Built around 1560 by the Wemyss family (pronounced Weems), the fortified mansion is one of Scotland’s best-preserved 16th century tower houses (though it still has a few floors missing as you can see in the gallery).

A short walk away, next to the duck pond, is Elcho Doocot (dovecote) which has to be one of the prettiest I have seen.

After that, it really was time to head for home and put our feet up for a well-deserved rest.


  1. I’ve never seen a tower like this before. How massive it looks besides the houses. I wasn’t surprised that it was windy up top but I admire you for climbing those 100 steps. When I think of the day I climbed 425 steps to a look-out I’m amazed at myself. Nowadays I’m limited to about 20!
    As always, your photos bring to life the text so well. Look forward to your next jaunt.


    • Thanks Mari! The steps weren’t a problem, but it was very windy on top. I didn’t include the rather unflattering picture of me clinging with one hand to the railing and with the other to the hatch as I was terrified it would blow shut and trap us!


  2. What I loved about this walk was your photographs of the colourful doors. This idea of having an individual style amongst the rows of houses really appealed to me. Some bits of history are sooner left behind unless there is a lesson to be learnt!


  3. Love the big old key and that must have been a tight walk up never mind a steep one. Love seeing the pictures and hearing about the nurse who gave so much only for the people to finally give to her. What a great trip to the towns and the old castle. I am ill about Notre Dame which, I am sure, you have been to as well.


    • It was a tight climb – I think more than two people in there at once would have been very uncomfortable! The space at the top was small too. I thought the nurse story was very touching – buying her a car was amazing. As for Notre Dame, I watched the spire falling last night – so awful to see.


  4. Now that’s a busy and exciting day trip – the sights and the splurges. 🙂 So, they let tourists into the tower by themselves? That’s very cool (and I love the key, it makes me think of big keys at hotels or bathroom facilities if they don’t want you to accidentally take it home), yet, since it’s such an old and valuable building, I’d be worried someone would do something “stupid”.

    What’s a dovecote, Anabel? Is it like an aviary for pigeons?


  5. Only cycled past those two places and never stopped. Fife is always interesting though but does seem to have more ancient head clamps, neck collars, tongue restraints and witches burning posts that any other Scottish area.