An ancient description of one of Scotland's most potent symbols – the Stone of Scone, also known as the Stone of Destiny – reads: 'No king was ever wont to reign in Scotland unless he had first sat upon this Stone at Scone.' Scone Palace, of which you get excellent views on this walk, was the crowning place of Scottish kings, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce. The Stone, which was placed on Moot Hill, by the palace, served as their throne – until it was stolen. The last monarch to be crowned on the Moot Hill was Charles II in 1651 – he was recognised as king in Scotland long before he was restored to the throne in England, in 1660.
Origins of the Stone
Scone (pronounced 'Scoon') was the capital of the Pictish kingdom and was the seat of Kenneth MacAlpin, who united Scotland, from AD 843. The Stone, a piece of red sandstone over 400 million years old, was possibly already in place and could have formed an important part of a pagan ceremony. Geological studies have shown it to be virtually identical to other rocks in the Scone area.
The Stone was seen as a symbol of Scotland's nationhood and its significance was to increase after it was stolen by Edward I in 1296. Edward had taken the Stone as a war trophy, determined to exert his authority and crush the independence of the Scots. He had it removed and taken to Westminster Abbey, where in 1297 it was installed beneath the Coronation Chair. Some have claimed that Edward was palmed off with a fake – perhaps even a drainage cover. However, this is unlikely as his officials had already seen the Stone, which has a smooth surface and some distinctive markings.
Return of the Stone
The Scots appealed to the Pope to help them get the Stone returned and, because it apparently had no intrinsic value or aesthetic appeal, the lawyer arguing their case embellished his story of how important it was by claiming that the Stone had been brought to Scotland from Egypt by a pharaoh's daughter. Further myths began to spring up, and some even claimed that the Stone was Jacob's pillow.
The Stone continued to play its role in history, as all English monarchs from 1297 were crowned upon it. It also continued to be seen as a symbol of Scottish independence, and many resented its presence in London. In 1950 some Scottish students managed to steal it from Westminster Abbey, but it was retrieved and replaced. However, in 1996 the Stone was returned to the Scots. It was escorted with due ceremony and put on display in Edinburgh Castle. Many hope that one day it will return to Scone.
From the tourist information centre turn right, then take the first right so you walk round the building. Turn right again and walk down to the road. Cross into Murray Street, passing the bus stops, and continue across Kinnoul Street into Mill Street.
Continue down Mill Street, passing Perth Theatre on the right-hand side. Keep walking ahead, pass Caffe Canto Bistro on the right-hand side, and join Bridge Lane. Pass the museum and art gallery on the left-hand side and reach Charlotte Street. Turn left here.
At the corner you can turn left if you wish to visit the Fair Maid's House (a fascinating geological centre). Otherwise, cross over the road and turn right through the park. Walk past a statue of Prince Albert, then bear left to join the riverside path beside the Tay. This gives good views of the smart houses along the opposite bank.
Continue ahead on the path, passing the golf course. When you reach the sign for the 14th tee, turn right and follow the track, with a wall to your left when you reach the water's edge. You can either follow the cycle track to the left of the wall, or walk along the river bank.
Follow your chosen track until the two tracks meet, just past an electricity substation. Walk by the riverside now to enjoy great views of Scone Palace on the opposite bank – there's a seat so you can sneak a rest. This is a lovely spot on a warm summer's day.
Retrace your steps now, walking back beside the river or along the cycle track and back to the golf course. Turn left and walk back towards Perth until you reach the cricket and football pitches on the right-hand side.
Turn right and walk between the pitches to join Rose Terrace, where John Ruskin once lived. Turn left, then bear left at the end into Charlotte Street and right into George Street, then right again into Bridge Lane. Turn left along Skinnergate and walk along to the end.
Cross over to pass around St John's Kirk, through an archway into South Street and across Princes Street. At Marshall Place turn left and walk to the Fergusson Gallery on the left-hand side. Then turn back along Marshall Place, walk up to King Street and then turn right. Maintain direction now, then turn left into West Mill Street and return to the start.
City streets and wide firm tracks
Historic city and wide, lazy river
They'll enjoy the riverside but might not like busy streets
OS Explorer 369 Perth & Kinross
On street in Perth
Off Kinnoull Street in Perth
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover Perth and Kinross
Perth and Kinross, sheltered by the Grampian Mountains, is often regarded as the Heart of Scotland, and its mountains, lochs and glens yearn to be explored. Just outside the ancient city of Perth is Scone Palace, home of the mystical Stone of Destiny, on which 42 Scottish Kings were crowned. Not far south-west lies the world-famous Gleneagles Hotel.
The Tay Valley is one of the region’s most scenic features, with its popular holiday resorts of Pitlochry and Blair Atholl, while Rannoch Moor is a magnificent wilderness that represents one of Scotland’s great walking experiences. The long and beautiful hidden valley of Glen Lyon lies sandwiched in the mountains between Loch Tay and Loch Rannoch, separated from Loch Rannoch by the broad summit of Carn Mairg. Said to be the longest glen in Scotland, it exhibits an enormous diversity of scenery.
In recent years Perth has developed as Scotland’s adventure capital, with an ever-longer list of adventure sports and activities to take you out and about across the region. So, if the more traditional sports seem tame, you can get your adrenaline rush by quad biking, off-road driving, abseiling, canoeing, waterskiing, cliff jumping, white-water rafting or even paintballing.