Founded in A.D. 815, Dunkeld Cathedral was converted from a church to a cathedral in 1127 by David I. It stands on Cathedral Street in a scenic setting along the River Tay. The cathedral was first restored in 1815, and traces of the 12th-century structure remain today. Admission is free, and the cathedral is open May to September, Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 6:30pm, Sunday 2 to 6:30pm; October to April, Monday to Saturday 9:30am to 4pm. There is no parking at the site.
The National Trust for Scotland has restored many of the old houses and shops around the marketplace and cathedral. The trust owns 20 houses on High Street and Cathedral Street as well. Many of them were constructed in the late 17th century after the rebuilding of the town following the Battle of Dunkeld. The Trust runs the Ell Shop, The Cross (tel. 01350/727-460), which specializes in Scottish handicrafts. Easter weekend to December 24, it's open Monday through Saturday from 10am to 5:30pm.
Shakespeare fans may want to seek out the oak and sycamore in front of the destroyed Birnam House, 1.6km (1 mile) south. This was believed to be a remnant of the Birnam Wood in Macbeth; you may recall, "Macbeth shall never vanquished be until great Birnam Wood to high Dunsinane Hill shall come against him."
The Hermitage, off A9 about 3km (1 3/4 miles) west of Dunkeld, was called a folly when it was built in 1758 above the wooded gorge of the River Braan. Today, it makes for one of the most scenic woodland walks in the area.
Our favorite spot in the area is the Loch of Lowes Wildlife Reserve ★ (tel. 01350/727-337; www.perthshire.co.uk), 3km (1 3/4 miles) from the center of town, along A923 heading northeast. It can be accessed from the south shore, where there are an observation lookout and a visitor center. Filled with rich flora and fauna, the 99-hectare (245-acre) reserve takes in the freshwater lake that's home to rare ospreys. Although common in the United States, these large brown-and-white sea eagles are on the endangered-species list in Britain, and bird-watchers from all over the country come here to observe them. The reserve is open only April to September daily 10am to 5pm, charging adults £3, seniors £2; children 16 and under enter free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.