Forfar is a market town and former royal burgh in Angus, Tayside. It is also the county town of Angus, and Angus itself had been known as Forfarshire from the 18th century till 1929. Situated between two lochs, the main one being Forfar Loch, Forfar is at the North East end of the Howe of Angus, Strathmore.
What is Forfar like?
Home to Strathmore bottled water, Forfar attracts many tourists with its charming centre of small shops and a monthly farmers market, all perfect for visitor browsing and for the sampling of a “Forfar Bridie” – a traditional meat pasty, with roots either in Forfar or nearby Glamis…
Forfar used to be the centre of the ancient kingdom of the Picts and its name in Gaelic probably means “wood of watching”, indicating it had been used as a look-out point, though as Forfar is situated on level ground, this may not be the case (the nearby Hills of Finhaven could be what the name refers to).
Take a look at a map of the area around Forfar – it is simply heaving with sites of prehistoric and historic interest – there are sculpture stones to the North East at Aberlemno, St Orland’s Stone to the West, Tealing earth house and dovecot on the A90 down to Dundee, Eassie sculpture stone and a sculpture stone museum just down the A94 near Glamis.
Following the Roman invasion of this part of Scotland, Roman camps had been established in the Forfar area – these were displaced by the Picts in the middle ages. The ruined square tower priory at Restenneth dates back to the Pictish period and it is eerie that only the priory and local fields can be seen while standing inside the priory grounds – none of the modern town and roads.
The nearby Glamis Castle, often described as one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles, was the home of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as a child. It is also the setting of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Closed during Winter months, it offers full events through the years and hosts to the annual Strathmore Highland Games (usually held in June).
Glamis Castle’s website can be seen here:
On the High Street amidst the shops stands the old library, now the Meffan Art Gallery and Museum. Inside, the visitor will learn about the 17th century witch hunts round Forfar, and see representations of workshops and traditional cobbling shops. Also there are exhibitions on the successful textile industry here, notably jute and linen, and a Class 1 large Pictish stone.
The Angus Folk Museum in nearby Glamis gives the visitor insights into how the rural workers used to live, including 18th century cottages, and a 19th century horse-drawn hearse.
For those of literary bent, Kirriemuir (just to the West of Forfar) is proud to encourage visitors to view the house where JM Barrie (1860-1937) was born, furnished as it may have been in the 1860s. There’s also an exhibition of the man’s life and works, including his most famous work, Peter Pan.
Outdoor Activities in the Forfar area
Walking, cycling and ski-ing are popular in the area surrounding this charming town, with ski-ers particularly fond of Glencova, Glenprosen and Glenshee. There’s a sailing club based at Forfar Loch, and the Highland Games are held on the loch side too. For herbaceous borders, woodland walks and gorgeous rose gardens, the visitor should visit Pitmuies Gardens at Guthrie, near Forfar, or for birdwatching, the RSPB’s Loch of Kinnordy near Kirriemuir.
Getting to Forfar
The town of Forfar is accessible to visitors, as it is positioned just off the main A90 road from Perth to Aberdeen, making it straightforward to travel to Dundee and the South, Aberdeen and the North, and to access the main motorway and road network.
Unfortunately the town’s railway line was closed to passengers in 1967, but many of the larger population centres nearby (Dundee, Arbroath and Montrose, for example) have their own stations within reasonable distance of Forfar. There are bus services to Brechin, Dundee, Arbroath and neighbouring towns. The nearest airport is Dundee, around 16 miles away.
Staying in Forfar
Why not browse our list of available holiday accommodation around the Forfar area below. From small towns and villages, to ski country further North above Kirriemuir, we had a good selection of properties to choose from, whatever your taste and your reason for the visit.