Do you know this quote? Yes, is from Peter Pan, written by JM Barrie. Today I’m heading to Kirriemuir, Barrie’s birthplace.
I won’t blame you if you don’t know anything about Kirriemuir or Kirrie or “The Wee Red Toon”. I haven’t! The Dude did, however.
In a previous post I’ve mentioned this specific road trip which we started by watching the World Cup Rugby match between South Africa and Japan in a pub in Dunblane. Before we left Dunblane, we pulled up Google maps to decide on our route. My only condition is that from Perth onwards, I do not want to go on the motorway. We had to take the small country roads. That’s how we found Kirriemuir on the map, much to the Dude’s excitement.
Why? Because, Kirriemuir is also the childhood home of rock legend, Bon Scott, lead singer of AC/DC. And yes, I had to take a photograph of him beside the statue of the rock star at Bellies Brae. There is even a “Bonfest” takes place every year to celebrate Kirriemuir’s famous son. I suspect that it would be on our calendar some time in the future but not this year, as the festival, scheduled for the first weekend in May, had been cancelled due to Covid-19.
Of course, we stopped (way too) many times for photographs, and took a wrong turning or two along the way. That’s why we first find Glamis Castle, only ... miles from Kirriemuir. It would therefore be easy to stay in Kirriemuir and still explore Glamis Castle, childhood home of the Queen Mother and legendary setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
The sun was already getting low when we reached this fairytale town with its narrow streets and red brick homes. We found a room at The Airlie Arms, where we had a drink at the hotel bar then set off for a walk. We didn’t go very far until we reached the second pub. You know how it goes...
Kirriemuir, also referred to as the Gateway to the Glens, (It thas quite a few nicknames!). Can you imagine, that a burgh which boasted a population of 6016 people in 2016, had so much offer? Well, I didn’t!
We only had a couple of hours to explore, unfortunately, if we wanted to tick off the rest of our to-do list along the way. Shortly after breakfast the next morning and before the local businesses even opened, we set off to find the said Bon Scott’s monument for the required photograph.
Next on our list of “must-see’s” was, of course, Peter Pan’s statue in the middle of town and the birthplace of JM Barrie, which is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland. The museum now contains an imaginative exhibition featuring life-size figures, theatre posters and stage costumes. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day of our visit so check the times!
Kirriemuir was apparently identified with witchcraft at one time in its history, and some older houses still feature a "witches stane" to ward off evil. It feels quite oldy-worldy strolling the narrow streets. with its quaint little shops. And that’s when we found it! The Oldest sweet shop in Scotland
Yeah, that visit took a bit longer than it should’ve. I felt like... okay, sorry, a child in a sweetie shop! It was amazing, bringing back so many childhood memories.
The Star Rock Shop was established in 1833 by David Ferguson. It still trades today from the same premises in the Roods, Kirriemuir, making it the oldest producing and continuously trading sweet shop in Scotland. You can learn more about the shop and it’s history from their website.
Of course, spending too much time and money in the sweetie shop, our time was up and we had to head to Forfar, the biggest town to Kirriemuir, and about fifteen miles away.
We will definitely return for a longer visit so I can go to Glamis Castle. Apart from that, I would also like to visit JM Barrie’s birthplace and try out the camera obscura Barrie gifted to the people of the town from which you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. It is situated next to the Neverland play park on Kirriemuir Hill.
From Kirriemuir you can visit, apart from Glamis Castle, Peel Farm near Lintrathen, Airlie Monument at the bottom of Glens Clova and Prosen and Reekie Linn Waterfall (which will also be on my must-do on my next visit). Birdwatchers will enjoy a visit to the nearby Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) reserve at Loch of Kinnordy, home to many wetland birds, viewable from hides and boardwalks.
So you see, there is plenty to do in these wee towns if you only take the time to get off the beaten track and explore the countryside.
Kirriemuir lies 17 miles north of Dundee in the northeast of Scotland. The town is just off the main A90 road and is easily accessed from Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports. The nearest train station is in Dundee and there are regular buses from Dundee out to Kirriemuir. For Sat Nav directions input the postcode DD8 5PU.
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