Area focus: Crieff

There is plenty of time still to see some of Perthshire’s finest artworks in the Perthshire Open Studios event, which returned last weekend and runs at various venues across the region until Sunday.

Crieff Hydro luxury hotel and spa is located at the heart of Highland

Professional artists have opened their workspaces, and art clubs and groups are exhibiting together, to show a wide variety of creativity.

Art lovers can follow the venue route map – which can be found online at the website perthshireopenstudios.com – and meet the makers in person.

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There are few regions more suited to such an event, as the Big Tree Country is shrouded in breathtakingly beautiful views and packed with inspiration.

A view down King Street in Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland, past the solid sandstone Burgh Chambers with the green farmland of Strathearn in the distance.

One particularly picturesque destination is the area’s second-largest town, Crieff, where the Strathearn Arts organisation is featuring work from a host of local artists as part of Open Studios.

The town’s name comes from the Gaelic Craoibh, meaning “tree”, and the settlement has been traced back to the 12th Century.

By the 1700s, Highlanders would descend on Crieff to sell tens of thousands of cattle at large annual markets known as trysts, said to be frequented by no lesser personage than Rob Roy MacGregor.

It is hard to believe today, but this charming market town – now home to some 7,430 people – was rife with crime around the time of the trysts.Indeed, murder was punished by death at the hands of a full-time hangman at the Kind Gallows of Crieff, who’s notoriety spread to the Continent.

On 26 January 1716, the township was the scene of further anguish when 350 Jacobites returned from the Battle of Sheriffmuir and burned the town to the ground.

This didn’t stop the trysts, and Crieff remained a popular place for trading cattle until the 1770s when operations moved to Falkirk.

The settlement developed into a scenic resort town and the 19th Century saw a boom in tourism with the opening of a train station.

Adding to the town’s appeal today is the high-quality education available at Strathearn Community Campus, with the independent Morrison’s Academy and Ardvreck School also close by.

Demand for properties in Crieff is growing, as demonstrated by the overall average price of a home here rising by a dramatic 23 per cent over the last year to £213,907, according to online platform Rightmove.

One of the most sought-after addresses is Comrie Road, which provides the main route out of town in a westwards direction, where a property is priced an average £750,000.

It features large, secluded Victorian villas with vast gardens and driveways, and flats in grand buildings, all of which boast dramatic views across MacRosty Park to the hills further afield.

The leafy Victoria Terrace is just as impressive. Zoopla puts the average value of a property here at £527,774 and, with detached 19th-Century villas featuring gable roofs, turrets and large bay windows, the price tag should come as no surprise.

Murray Place to the north of the town centre has well-maintained terraced properties which average out at a slightly lower price range of about £300,000, while Sauchie Road to the south of Crieff has charming four-bedroom villas valued at around £177,200.

Newer builds designed for modern family life can be also be found in the south of the town at Hebridean Gardens and Skye Crescent.

The bustling High Street is packed with colourful shop fronts and eateries, while groceries can be bought at the Co-op and Aldi.

More high-street favourites can be found in nearby Perth or Stirling, both of which are just a half-hour drive away.

For those seeking a more rural residence, Crieff is surrounded by rolling countryside, which features many prime market properties. However, as suggested by sales in recent years, buyers of such prestigious homes should prepare to pay anywhere up to £2 million.

Average market value of a property in the area (Source: Zoopla)

Detached £366,451

Semi-detached £241,190

Terrace £180,534

Flat £121,971

Leisure

Strathearn Community Campus on Pittenzie Road in Crief is operated by Live Active Leisure and has fitness and strength gyms, a pool for family, club and lane swimming, as well as squash courts.

Prices are varied and there are discount cards and memberships available.

The centre is open Monday to Friday, from 7.15 am to 11.15am, and again from 3.30pm to 9.30, and weekends from 8.15am to 12.15pm.

The Crieff Hydro Hotel offers memberships for the use of its swimming pool, saunas and steam rooms, as well as its adult-only Victorian baths, right. There is also a gym and fitness studio.

There is no joining fee, see www.crieff hydro.com for details

Action Glen is also based at the Hydro and offers 30 outdoor activities, including mountain biking, off-road driving, shooting, treetop adventures and water sports at Loch Earn.