If Independent Learning Week has given you the travel bug, this next installment of Katie Weinsheimer’s Fife Fridays is for you.
In my quest to explore more of Scotland, I travelled to the small town of St Fillans on the edge of Loch Earn. I broke my own rules twofold: this was not in Fife, and it was on a Saturday, not Friday. However, it was still an entertaining and worth-while day-trip.
Now, why exactly is this article titled St Fillans Misadventures? Because my adventure to and within St Fillans, while a lot of fun, was not the adventure I had planned. I would call this a travel learning experience, and I have made these mistakes so you can learn from them.
My original scheme was more ambitious: once again breaking my rules, I planned an overnight trip to Lochearnhead, which sits right of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. However, I ran into a slight problem because while I could get to St Fillans, I could not make it the eight extra miles to the other side of the Loch Earn. My friend and I found ourselves stuck in St Fillans with no cell service, no reception, and the sun was beginning to set…
But, before I delve into my travel woes, let me explain how I got to this point. My journey to St Fillans was quite nice and full of wonderful small surprises. I began my Saturday at the St Andrews bus station at 10 am, armed with a backpack containing necessities for an overnight trip and a packed lunch. Boarding a bus to Dundee (they arrive every seven to ten minutes), I bought the student East Scotland day rider pass for £ 11.50. I got off at the Dundee bus station and boarded the X7 to Perth.
The bus to Perth was about an hour from Dundee, but it was a very pleasant journey through the Scottish countryside. The changing leaves and browning fields created a mirage of colour as the bus sped by. Once my friend and I arrived in Perth, we had about 40 minutes until our next and final bus to St Fillans. We decided that this would be a good time to wander into the town centre and find a bench to eat our packed lunch. We found a great spot outside a church overlooking the town square. I don’t know if it was the warm sunlight hitting my face or the fall breeze, or the magnificence of my ham sandwich, but I was perfectly content to sit on that bench and watch the world go by for ages.
However, it was time for us to begin to make our way to the bus stop. On the way, we stumbled into a Saturday market. On the first Saturday of every month, a farmer’s market takes over Perth’s high street, offering local fruits and veggies, meats and cheeses, beer and spirits, and chocolate and baked goods. The green and white striped tents lined the street as my eyes grew large at the assortment of goodies. I settled on a slice of a blueberry traybake before regretfully making my way to the bus stop and boarding the 15 to Crief (St Fillans).
Once on the 40 minute ride to St Fillans, I dug into my traybake and savoured every bite. The cake itself was moist and full of berries while the crispy, buttery pie crust balanced out the sweetness of the cake. I then cursed myself for paying too much attention to the desserts to remember the name of the stalls. My favourite part of the ride to St Fillans was the visible transition from lowlands to highlands. I imagine that for some this would grow boring, but for me, the way in which a switch seemed to flip and all of a sudden large hills appeared was incredible.
We arrived in St Fillans and I was expecting a small town, but it was more a smattering of houses and hotels along a road mirroring Loch Earn. I did not think too much of it as I raced down to a small wooden dock to admire the view. There was a crispness to the air as the sun shone on the water and the hills cast verdant shadows across the deep blue loch. My friend and I decided to hike around the loch for a little, passing a pasture of sheep and encampments of hikers fishing on the loch or making small bonfires.
After about an hour of exploring, we decide to try to find our next bus that would take us to the other side of the loch. And this is where we ran into problems. We looked at the posted timetables and Saturday was blank. It must have been a mistake. Coming from the United States, I did not consider that buses would have limited hours. I went to check on my phone and I had no reception at all. This is when I began to panic. I finally found an inch of space that had reception and googled bus times on my phone. Error. No buses found. Error. The panic turned into anxiety and uncertainty. The cute highland loch was quickly turning into a booby trap. We decide to go into the hotel across the street for help. The woman at the desk informed us once and for all that it was eight miles to Lochearnhead and no buses were running to that side of the Loch for the rest of the day. However, she did find us the next bus back to Perth and offered us tea and coffee. Essentially, Laura was my hero and restored my faith in humanity. My friend and I caught the next bus back and meandered our way back to the Bubble.
So there you are – that was my whirlwind of a Saturday. Moral of the story: when you go adventuring, check the bus times. All of the bus times.
But, with all that said, I had an amazing day and would highly recommend this trip. It is the perfect bus journey and is well-worth the views. Although St Fillans was not the town I was expecting, nearby Crief and Comrie are two towns past Perth but before St Fillans that are more of real towns. I would highly recommend carving out time to wander their streets as well.
Stay tuned for the next Fife Fridays in which I actually follow my rules and travel to historic Dunfermline.