A SMALL market town in Perthshire which Robert Burns fell for has been judged the best in Scotland in a new survey.
Aberfeldy placed on Scotland’s longest river, the River Tay and described by its champions as ‘the best of Scotland in a nutshell’ beat competition from eye-catching rivals.
With more that 2710 people who had visited the UK’s towns and villages between April 2019 and April 2021 surveyed to establish the Which? rankings – just three Scots towns and villages registered in the list of 59.
Notable absentees from the survey by the consumer organisation Which? include St Andrews in Fife, Portree on the Isle of Skye, the Argyll and Bute resort town of Oban and Tobermory on the Isle of Mull among others.
Aberfeldy, Scotland’s highest scoring town, was given an 82% scoring with five-star scenery, a four-star rating for peace and quiet and three stars for attractiveness.
Which said that the town is today better known for being Scotland’s first Fairtrade town, and for its many attractions including The Watermill, containing a book shop, gallery and café, and Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.
The town in which Harry Potter author JK Rowling owns a house and in which actor Alan Cumming was born, is perhaps best known for being immortalised by Scotland’s bard.
He was inspired to write a poem about about the Perthshire beauty spot in 1787 after visiting while on a tour of the Highlands with his friend William Nicol.
In The Birks of Aberfeldy, he admired the crystal streamlets and “little birdies” at one of the area’s many beauty spots.
Waterfalls and birk – or birch – woods surround the pretty Perthshire town which, 200 years on from Burns’ visit, makes for a popular getaway destination.
According to Visit Scotland, visitors to the town will be “spoilt for choice” for outdoor adventures in this area, as there are plenty of local activity providers who can take people white water rafting, abseiling, gorge walking, canyoning, mountain biking or even a bungee jump.
It has also become an attraction for salmon and trout fishing.
The second best Scots beauty spot was judged to be another Perthshire town – said to be a favourite of Queen Victoria.
Pitlochry. Source YouTube (Meteoritenstaub)
Pitlochry rated five star for scenery, four star for attractiveness, four star for peace and quiet and three star for value for money.
The only other Scots town to make the list was Fort William in the Highlands which rated five star for peace and quiet but just one star for attractiveness.
Aberfeldy only finished 16th best across the UK with Pitlochry 24th (80%) and Fort William 51st (73%).
It was a village in Wiltshire where visitors can “order a pint of bitter in the middle of a Neolithic henge” that was named the best in the UK in the survey.
Avebury’s English charm containing a 5000-year-old stone circle scored near-perfect marks for scenery, attractions, and “peace and quiet”.
All of the top three destinations in the survey are located in the south-west of England, with Castle Combe, also in Wiltshire, and Wells, Somerset, placing joint second in the rankings.
At the bottom of the table was Bodmin, in Cornwall, with a destination score of 55 per cent, followed by Matlock Bath in Derbyshire (65%) and Ross-on-Wye in Herefordshire (66%).
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor said: “The UK is full of towns and villages bursting with character and history, many of which are relatively quiet and unspoilt making them perfect destinations for a day trip or a holiday.
“Whether you’re looking for somewhere with peaceful walks and bracing scenery, or simply a selection of independent shops and cosy pubs to idle in, there are a wealth of brilliant towns and villages to explore across the country waiting to be explored.”
A Visit Scotland spokesman said: “Scotland’s rural destinations have always been popular with UK visitors and with the pandemic changing attitudes towards travel, making staycations the focus for many, their popularity has only increased during this time.”We welcome the views of Which? readers who have highlighted Fort William, Aberfeldy and Pitlochry as among the top-rated UK towns and villages. Across the country we have a fantastic range of coasts, islands, mountains and countryside to explore, as well as the wide-open green spaces and country parks in and around our towns and cities.”