Forfar is the county town of Angus, 13 miles north of Dundee. It had a linen and jute industry in the 18th / 19th centuries but those have gone, so Forfar is now a commuter town for Dundee, with a population in 2011 of 14,028. The main reasons to visit are Glamis Castle, and the fine Pictish carved stones here and at Meigle and Aberlemno.
Forfar is off A90, 13 miles north of Dundee which is the nearest railway station.
Citylink buses from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Aberdeen stop at the A90 / A94 intersection two miles southwest of Forfar town centre - the bus stop is by McDonald's. They're every hour or two; they may also stop at Broxden P&R on the edge of Perth, and in Dundee.
Stagecoach Bus 20 / 21 runs from Dundee to Forfar town centre, taking 30 min; M-F it's every 30 min, Sa hourly, Su every two hours. Bus 20 continues to Kirriemuir and Bus 21 to Brechin and Strathcathro Hospital.
Bus 27 runs from Arbroath (which has a railway station) to Forfar, taking 45 min. It's hourly M-Sa with only four buses on Sunday.
There are no buses west to Blairgowrie or Coupar Angus, you'd have to double back via Dundee.
You need your own wheels to reach the places of interest; a bike would do nicely. For instance to Glamis Castle is six miles, with no practical bus service.
- 1 Meffan Museum, 20 West High St, Forfar DD8 1BB, ☏ . Closed in 2020. Small museum, the highlights are the Pictish Kirriemuir Sculptured Stones and the Dunnichen Stone. Other exhibits cover town life, including the witch-hunts of 1661-66. There's also an art gallery. Free.
- East and Old Church (C of S) on High St was built in 1789/90, with the clock tower added in 1815.
- Lowson Memorial Church [dead link] (C of S) at the foot of Montrose Road was built in 1914 in Scots Gothic style.
- 2 Forfar Loch west side of town is a shallow freshwater lake, about a mile long east-west. There's a park and paths for strolling. St Margaret's Inch, the gravel projection on the north bank, had a crannog and monk's cell but nothing remains of them.
- 3 Kirriemuir is a village 7 miles northwest of Forfar which in the 16th C was the scene of witch hunts. But it's best known as the birthplace of JM Barrie (1860-1937), author of Peter Pan, and his house is a museum run by NTS. The Tayside Police Museum is on Reform St, open Tu-F 10:00-16:00. Other local artifacts such as Pictish stones have been taken to Meigle or other museums. The actor David Niven (1910-1983) claimed to have been born in Kirriemuir, in fact it was London.
- 4 St Orland's Stone stands in fields at Crossan 4 miles west of Forfar. It's a Pictish cross-slab and depicts a boat: Forfar Loch and wetlands may once have extended this far. In 2020 it's covered over for conservation work.
- 5 Glamis Castle, Glamis DD8 1RJ, ☏ . Closed until April 2021. Glamis (say glamz) Castle has been the home of the Lyon family since the 14th century, though the present building, a turreted chateau, is from 17th century. It was the childhood home of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who married King George VI, and was later known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Her second daughter Princess Margaret was born here and the castle remains the home of the Earl and Countess of Strathmore and Kinghorne. Naturally they big-up this aristocratic roll-call but it was a coal-mining fortune in the 18th C that paid for the present splendour. Highlights are the grand Drawing Room, the Kitchens, and Duncan's Hall where, according to Shakespeare, Macbeth murdered King Duncan. (Actually it was at Inverness, and never happened, see Birnam and Cawdor.) There are impressive extensive gardens. Adult £15.50, conc £12, child £10.
- Glamis village nearby is attractive, with several historic buildings and the Pictish Glamis Manse Stone, but the Angus Folk Museum has closed down. There are two distilleries, see Drink.
- 6 Eassie has a single Pictish stone, from about 8th century and finely carved. It's in a glass shelter within the ruin of Eassie old church, by a loop off A94.
- 7 Meigle Sculptured Stone Museum, Meigle PH12 8SB. Apr-Sept daily 09:30-12:30, 13:30-17:30. Exhibition of 27 carved Pictish stones in the former schoolhouse. They date to 9th century and were found in the local churchyard. They appear to be tombstones and their number and quality suggests an important monastery once stood here. Adult £6, conc £4.80, child £3.60.
- 8 Restenneth Priory is a ruin two miles northeast of Forfar, follow B9113. There was a church here from Pictish times, but what you see now is from 12th C when it became an Augustinian outpost of Jedburgh Abbey. You're free to stroll round it any time.
- 9 Aberlemno Sculptured Stones, Aberlemno. These are richly carved standing stones with Pictish symbols from early medieval times, perhaps 9th century. Four are in or near Aberlemno village churchyard: they're in their original outdoor positions but in winter are boxed in to prevent frost damage. The stone in the churchyard (#2) has a Celtic Cross and a battle scene, which might involve Picts, Danes, Northumbrians or modern archaeologists arguing over its interpretation. Stone #4 is in the McManus Gallery in Dundee.
- 10 refers both to the 19th C mansion, and the ruined 17th C L-plan tower house in the woods behind. It's privately owned and you'll have to be content with a glimpse as the A90 sweeps past, though they rent out an apartment within the mansion and have game-fishing on the River South Esk. The 16th C Doocot has 2400 pigeonholes and is managed by NTS but seldom open to visit. On the hill to the southeast towards Aberlemno was an Iron Age fort, but there's just shrubs to see now.
- 11 Guthrie Castle is a mostly 19th century mansion 6 miles east of Forfar. Since 2017 it's just been a private residence and you can't visit.
- Edzell Castle: see Montrose for this charming ruined castle and walled garden north of Brechin.
- Tealing Earth House and Dovecote: see Dundee.
- 1 Forfar Indoor Sports, Suttieside Rd DD8 3NG, ☏ . This has curling, bowling and ice skating.
- Forfar Athletic play soccer in Scottish League One, the third tier in Scotland. Their home ground is Station Park, capacity 7000, on Carseview Rd at the north edge of town.
- The Golf Club is a mile east on A932 Arbroath Rd. There's also a driving range half a mile north of town on B9128.
- Bonfest is a rock festival held in May in Kirriemuir. The next event is 30 April - 2 May 2021.
- Angus Agricultural Show is held in June in the nearby town of Brechin.
- Strathmore Highland Games are held in mid-June at Glamis Castle. The 2020 games were cancelled so the next are probably on Sun 13 June 2021, tbc.
- Kirriemuir Agricultural Show at the Castle is probably next on Sat 10 July 2021 but tbc.
- Glamis Country Fair & Horse Trails at the Castle are probably next held F 30 July - Sun 1 Aug 2021, tbc.
- Asda in town centre is open daily 07:30-22:00 and has a filling station.
- Forfar bridies are savoury meat pastries. They're triangular shortcrust pastries with crimped edges filled with minced steak, but not potato, so they're more substantial than (for instance) Cornish pasties. Two holes punched in the crust means it also contains minced onion, one hole means it's without.
- Castle Club, 100-108 Castle St DD8 3DR, ☏ . M-Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 15:00-23:00. Traditional fare, their Sunday High Teas are good value.
- Queen Street Tavern, 45-53 Queen St DD8 3DL, ☏ . M Tu 11:00-23:00, W-Sa 11:00-00:00, Su 12:00-20:30. Good pub grub.
- Queens Hotel, 12-14 The Cross DD8 1BX (opposite Meffan Museum), ☏ . Open daily. Has basic rooms but it's essentially a pub. Food served daily 12:00-14:00 and 17:00-19:00. B&B double £75.
- Other pubs along High Street are Old Masons Arms, Burns Bar, The Osnaburg, and Thistle Bar, with The Stag on Castle St.
- Distilleries: Glamis has two - Gin Bothy in the village offers tours Th-Su 11:00-17:00. Ogilvy Spirits a couple of miles south makes potato vodka, no tours.
- The pawky local legend goes that a townsman left a tub of beer at his doorway, and a passing cow drank it. He tried to bill the cow's owner, but the magistrate ruled that a drink taken standing at the doorway was deoch an doras, a stirrup cup or farewell drink, a gesture of hospitality for which no Scot would ever expect payment. The ruling is not binding upon other courts so don't push your luck at pub closing time.
As of Nov 2020, EE has a good 4G signal in town. You might manage a mobile call with the other carriers. 5G has not reached this area.
- Arbroath, source of Scotland's first documented declaration of independence in 1320, has a ruined abbey and a Victorian Signal Tower used to signal and support the lighthouse.
- Dundee has Scott's Antarctic vessel Discovery, the V&A design museum, and Verdant jute mill.
|Routes through Forfar|
|Aberdeen ← Stonehaven ←||NE S||→ Dundee → Perth|