A Queen’s View of the Highlands

Queen's View, Perthshire, visit ScotlandThe Queen looked west over Loch Tummel and liked it very much.  She liked it so much that someone named the view for her. Or, maybe she commanded that it should be so.  Sadly, there’s a little uncertainty over which particular queen we’re talking about here, but whoever it was does not alter the fact that it’s a jolly splendid scene.  Indeed, Queen’s View is claimed to be, unsurprisingly, one of the most photographed sights in the Scottish Highlands.  It owes its popularity not simply to the wonderful vista over the loch, part of the Tay Forest Park and beyond to the truly mountain-shaped mountain, Schiehallion, but also because it is easy to visit by car, involves a minimal amount of physical effort once you’re there and offers convenient facilities like a decent café and toilets. So, if you’re on one of those whistle-stop tours of Scotland in a day by minibus, you’ll probably find Queens View on the itinerary.  In any event, whenever you’re tootling around beautiful Perthshire – and, goodness me, there are plenty of reasons to do that – taking in Queen’s View is something that really has to be done.

Queen's View, Highlands, places to visit in ScotlandThere are probably more important debates to be had in the world, but let’s get this ‘which queen’ business out of the way, shall we? There seem to be two main candidates behind the name of Queen’s View: Queen Victoria and Queen Isabella – though one account I’ve seen also suggests Mary, Queen of Scots as a third, outside, contender.  Queen Victoria visited in 1866 and, in an acquisitive moment, apparently assumed that the view belonged to her.  Others, however, believe that the queen in question is Queen Isabella, Isabella of Mar, who lived five and a half centuries before Vicky and was Robert the Bruce’s first wife.  Some suggest that Isabella hid in nearby woods after Bruce’s defeat by the English at the Battle of Methven in 1306, which would be a romantic notion but for the fact that Isabella died in 1296 and Bruce married his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh, in 1302. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Isabella can be ruled out of being the inspiration behind the naming of Queen’s View – just her link with Methven, which would more likely involve Elizabeth.  I suppose it’s possible that both Isabella and Elizabeth liked the place and used it as a stop-over – and I must say that the bacon rolls are terrific, so who could blame them?  By the way, Isabella and Robert’s daughter, Marjorie, married Walter Stewart, Steward of Scotland; and their son became Robert II, King of Scotland – the first of the Stuart monarchs and a distant ancestor of Victoria, as well as of our current queen.

Mother and Child carving, Queen's View, PerthshireThat doesn’t help much, does it? Sorry.  Perhaps Queen’s View was thus called simply because the view was considered fit for a queen. Occasionally, though, folk memories linger in place names – so who knows; perhaps it really was a place associated with a real person. Or perhaps the apostrophe is in the wrong place and there was more than one queen.  I wonder what the earliest maps tell us?

Queen's pew. Queen's ViewMoving on, Queen’s View perches over the north east edge of Loch Tummel, a relatively narrow loch about 7 miles long, popular with anglers.  There are footpaths all around, so of course people do walk there.  But most visitors roll into the pay and display car park off the B8019, pop into the amenities, and then stroll a few yards to the viewpoint.  And that’s what we did, guided by good friends and Molly the Dog.  I was struck by the shape of Schiehallion, which in Gaelic is Sidh Chailleann, the ‘Fairy Hill of the Caledonians’.  My mate Pat, who knows about technical things, told us that, because Schiehallion has such a regular shape, it was used to help calculate the first ever measurement of the mass of the earth in 1774, by the Astronomer Royal, Neville Maskelyne.  Please don’t expect me to explain this – it was something to do with plumb-lines; all we need to know is that it happened and that Schiehallion is, therefore, a unique mountain.

I’m hoping I haven’t under-sold the facilities at Queen’s View, which include a splendid wooden carving of a mother and child (no, I don’t know the association), a visitor centre, a shop where you can stock up on essentials like fridge magnets and ‘I Love Scotland’ T-shirts and, outside, to underpin the authentic Scottish experience, piped bagpipe music. The bacon rolls are superb, though; did I mention that? And the guys running the café were really great. It’s worth taking a look at the website of Forestry Commission Scotland for more serious information.

Viewing Point, Queen's ViewHowever, most visitors are done with Queen’s View pretty quickly: after all, there’s only so long you can stand in one place taking in a nice view, only so many times you can say, “Oh, isn’t it luvly, Mavis”, and only so many photos you can take of it.  And, besides, you want to give someone else a turn, don’t you?  Which brings me to the extraordinary individual I think of as (small drum-roll) – Selfie-Girl.  Now, I tend to avoid taking photos of myself for a variety of reasons, not least because I’m a modest chap (with much to be modest about) but, mostly, because the involuntary facial contortions I pull in the process make me look like an entrant in a gurning contest. I am not anti-selfie per se – it is perfectly natural for other people to want to take photos of themselves in great places, and it is a nice thing to do, to have the memories.  Enter Selfie-Girl and her assistant.  Selfie-Girl was a kind of ghastly cross between Kim Kardashian and Jessica Rabbit, wearing spray-on clothes.  She quite unselfconsciously posed, preened and pouted all over Queen’s View as though she was participating in a parody of a fashion-shoot, oblivious to anyone else, their sensibilities, or the fact that she was just getting in the way, whilst happily clicking away at herself. It was grotesque, yet horribly fascinating.  Her companion, who seemed relatively normal, tried to follow suit, but, frankly, I’m not sure her heart was really in it.  Selfie-Girl’s grand finale was to hand her mobile ‘phone to her chum and strike an impressive assortment of thrusting postures with her assorted extremities, throwing her arms up to the sky, tilting her head from one side to the other, pursing her lips into a variety of shapes and finishing off with her back to the camera, looking over her shoulder. I didn’t know whether to applaud, or call for help.  It was an astonishingly theatrical performance, the kind of thing you imagine people only doing in the privacy of their own homes, maybe in front of a mirror. (My Elvis impersonation is coming on a treat, thank you for asking.)  Perhaps Selfie-Girl was actually a reincarnated queen, returned to claim her view.  Anyway, it was a curious encounter and a rare privilege to witness that degree of self-obsession outside politics, TV reality shows, or Facebook.

Do visit Queen’s View; the view and the bacon rolls are marvellous (did I mention the bacon rolls?). I bet it’s stunning in the autumn – or the winter, when it offers fabulous opportunities for selfies in ski-suits.

Queen's View, places to visit in the Highlands

66 thoughts on “A Queen’s View of the Highlands

  1. milliethom

    A fabulous post Mike, and it really made me laugh. I just had t read your encounter with Selfie-Girl out to husband, Nick. It’s certainly a very beautiful area. We’ve been to Pitlochry three times in recent years (including this year) and I believe it’s the RiverTummel that feeds the salmon ladder there. We’ve obviously missed out by not venturing out to Queen’s View. Those bacon rolls are evidently quite delicious.

  2. Clare Pooley

    The view is indeed a queen of views and I would love to visit and see it for myself. I also love bacon rolls, which is another incentive to wend my way northwards. I am bemused by all the selfie-taking I see being done all over the place. Not having ever taken one myself I cannot understand how people are able to be so self-absorbed in public. Thank you for this amusing post with gorgeous photos too!

  3. quinn

    When it comes to scenic spots, I’m not a glance-and-go visitor – I try to find a comfortable place to perch (not always possible with my aging bones) and then stay a while and just look and look and look. Selfies never occurred to me, but that is a loss to no one.
    p.s. I recommend a bit of mayonnaise on a bacon roll. Mmmmmmmmmm.

  4. Anne Clare

    Ha! Oh dear, the poor mister is trying to sleep and I’m over here trying to laugh quietly, WITH my stomach growling for bacon now, thank you very much. That blue water! What a lovely spot! Hopefully selfi-girl got a bit of it in her pictures as well…

  5. lowcarbdiabeticJan

    Hi Mike … not sure if my comment came through?

    I really enjoyed this post.
    Fabulous view and the Loch is just beautiful.

    We love to eat bacon with eggs and mushrooms.

    Hope you are staying as cool as possible in this ridiculous heat.

    Hope also this comment comes through ok!

    All the best Jan

  6. lowcarbdiabeticJn

    What a great post.
    What a great view and the Loch is just beautiful.

    We just love bacon … although tend to have it for breakfast with an egg and some mushrooms.

    Stay as cool as you can in this ridiculous heat!

    All the best Jan

  7. cat9984

    Not being familiar with the term, I looked up bacon roll. It says that it is a bacon sandwich made with two pieces of bread, but the picture is of bacon rolled around something. Do you know of somewhere I could actually get a recipe? It looks like something my husband and son would like. (I apologize for sticking on this point of your wonderful description of Queen’s View)

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      OK – I’m getting the sense that some parts of the world have yet to experience a bacon roll. Forgive my ignorance! Bacon – in the UK, this is a type of cured pork sold in slices called rashers. The best cut is ‘back’, which is much leaner than ‘streaky’ – the latter is often used for cooking. Bacon is available as smoked and unsmoked (or green) and is a staple ingredient of a traditional British cooked breakfast – along with eggs, sausages, mushrooms, black pudding and fried bread (though it depends which part of the country you’re in). Bacon is fried or, more commonly now, grilled. A bacon sandwich, or ‘sarnie’ is common fare over here . A bacon roll is the same thing using a bread roll – of which there are many varieties, some of them regional. You don’t want it too stodgy – a hamburger bun, for example, would be awful. Personally, I think the best for a bacon roll is the Scottish morning roll – as Helen suggests, below. Here is a bit about them and a recipe – https://foodanddrink.scotsman.com/food/the-history-of-glasgow-morning-rolls-including-a-recipe-for-making-your-own/ I have no idea whether the recipe is any good.
      It’s a matter of personal taste whether you butter the roll before putting the bacon in. Some people like a little tomato ketchup, mustard or brown sauce with it too. Hope that’s OK? Let me know how you get on – I can see I need to work harder on this kind of thing! Of course, what you really need to do is is visit Britain… 🙂

  8. Fun60

    With a view like that, a shop and a cafe selling bacon rolls it must be near the top of places to visit in Scotland. Selfies are one thing but the use of selfie sticks needs to be banned for good. Yes , Mike the heat in London is unbearable. I have curtailed my wanderings for present unless I can complete them before 8am.

  9. Denise at Forest Manor

    Oh goodness, Mike; this post literally had me laughing out loud. 😀 Your wife must stay in stitches laughing at your humor.

    Back to the view — it’s gorgeous!! That loch is sooo blue, and who doesn’t like a mountain-shaped mountain? I can truly see why Queen’s View would be a popular stop for visitors; it’s lovely. It always helps to have a place to grab a tasty snack, as well. How are the bacon rolls, by the way?

    Your description of Selfie-Girl was just too funny, and too true, I’m afraid. I honestly hate selfies; I know that sounds really intolerant. You can’t believe the number of people over here who drive and text, probably taking selfies too, ALL THE TIME. In addition to being a hazard to themselves and others, the extent of self-absorption beggars belief. Sorry, I’ll get off my podium now.

    I enjoyed your post, Mike, and hope you’re having a good summer. Hal and I enjoy reading about your travels and adventures. Take care!

    Denise

  10. Lisa G.

    What a beautiful sight! One thing I notice over and over again, (and I probably say it over and over again, too) is how different the rivers seem over there compared to what I’ve seen here. Your rivers, first of all, look smooth and placid; secondly, it looks like you can just step into them. Here the rivers are usually below ground level. I mentioned this last week to a co-worker who’s just come back from Britain, and she agreed with me.

  11. CherryPie

    The view looks stunning, fit for a Queen 😉

    I can just imagine your selfie girl I have seen others performing similar stunts getting in the way of everyone else’s photographs.

  12. hilarymb

    Hi Mike – looks stunning … and I’d never heard of it … so another place to visit – cheers Hilary

  13. Helen Devries

    Bacon – might it even be Ayrshire? – in a Scots morning roll…..be still my beating heart.
    It is indeed a beautiful spot…though the amenities seem to have improved since my last visit over fifty years ago. Then you had to take your own bacon rolls. And your Irn Bru.
    It lacks only an open precipice over which to launch Selfie Girl.

    1. Mike@bitaboutbritain Post author

      Dunno where the bacon was from, but it was definitely a morning roll – hard to beat, ain’t it?! I can live without the Irn Bru, though – ghastly muck. Though I have heard that some people, inexplicably, aren’t fond of ale; each to their own.

      1. Helen Devries

        It was the treat when going to Scotland for the holidays…so I suppose that accounts for the nostalgia. Not that the granny allowed us more than one can a week!

  14. Osyth

    You are on splendid form, Sir! Your romp through the possible Queens in competition for the View Crown is a delight. Selfie Girl is the sort to get my hackles raised like porcupine spines and my disapproving voice raising dangerously near to very easily heard but I am easily distracted by a bacon buttie so it’s likely that serious offence would have been avoided had I been accompanying you on to this most beautiful of beauty spots.

  15. Mj Hoop

    Wait a mo’, is this your subtle way of telling folks that someone else’s selfie will do and go here only if one has a yen for bacon rolls? I’m so dense w/o bacon it took a bit to get the message.

  16. Mj Hoop

    Always up for a chuckle or ten in a world gone mad as the proverbial hatter. Bacon?
    Lets see, I have lovely memories of the feel of crisp bacon in my mouth from about 10 years ago. I subsist on bacon memories these days. The more available for those USAans who can’t survive on memories.

  17. Cynthia

    Truly fit for a queen, any queen. Selfie Girls are everywhere. This one seemed to give a performance, probably instantly up for comments on Facebook!

  18. KerryCan

    May I say thank you for *not* including a photo of selfie girl? We mustn’t encourage that behavior . . . The post was lots of fun! A gorgeous spot.

  19. mekslibrarian

    Good job I was having breakfast anyway (a modest muesli, as always) while reading your post, or else I’d have started to crave a bacon roll (which incidentally I made myself for lunch only yesterday).
    The view really IS fit for a queen, and I suspect that is how Selfie-Girl sees herself – the Queen of Selfies. Her instagram account must be bursting with clicks from excited admirers.

  20. Amy

    It’s beautiful! I have ancestors from Inverness, it’s definitely on my bucket list of places to visit.

  21. mikedw

    I think Selfie-Girl has been cloned, with regional variations. You can be sure the results of that photo shoot will appear on Facebook, or a website. Not just the best shot – ALL of them!

  22. Marcia

    We did not get to see that view but did see Loch Tay from Schiehallion. We didn’t get the whole way up but enough to say we climbed a Munro. Did you visit the Crannog center on Loch Tay?

  23. markspitzerdesigns

    Mike – three thoughts
    Would the queen have approved of the bacon rolls ?
    Why was there no photo of selfie-girl
    Why was there no photo of the bacon rolls ?
    (did I mention bacon rolls ?)

  24. Susan Allen

    I was just up past that way a few weeks ago, when I journeyed to Culloden. I wish I had known about this place! Yet, there are so many awesome views to choose from in the Highlands. I suppose even ordinary mortals can feel like royalty, looking out on such majestic vistas.

    I am wondering, however, if perhaps someone put “something extra” in selfie-girl’s bacon roll? If so, that might just be worth checking out! (It obviously made quite an impression on you too. )

    As always, I enjoyed reading your blog! Looking forward to more.

    Cheers!
    Susan

  25. edith Douglas

    Now I WANT a bacon roll, and we don’t keep bacon in this house, not that we can get decent bacon any more as it’s all no doubt in Scotland. Nice view.

  26. colonialist

    Obviously that girl doesn’t share my view that views should have views of the view and not of people — even moi. Lovely indeed. I must wend more westwards next time I visit Sconny Botland.

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