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Ask a local: 5 of the best things about Glenfarg

Glenfarg residents are never short of things to do. Let Douglas Fraser be your guide to the Kinross-shire village with a 'can-do' attitude.

Douglas Fraser, with white hair and beard. smiling and holding a coffee and cake to the camera at the weekly coffee lounge in Glenfarg community centre.
A warm welcome awaits visitors to Glenfarg, says Douglas Fraser. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson.

Glenfarg isn’t one of those places you just pass through, as a rule. But it’s one that’s well worth seeking out.

This lively little village sits among farmland and forests in the Ochil hills between Perth and Kinross.

It’s bypassed by the M90 motorway, so you’ll have to turn off at Bridge of Earn – taking the notoriously twisty back road past the Famous Bein Inn – or Mawcarse, to the north of Milnathort, if you fancy popping in.

Old Glenfarg library building, now converted into a family home, with war memorial outside.
Glenfarg’s distinctive buildings give it a character all its own. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

And maybe it’s this relative seclusion that makes it such a rewarding place to live, says Douglas Fraser.

Glenfarg people get things done. When the last hotel closed – there were four in Glenfarg’s heyday –  they put on their own pub night. Now they organise a pop-up pub in the park twice a year.

The nearest cinema is in Perth, so they hold community cinema nights too. That’s when the community centre isn’t packed out with all the other activities.

And when their local bus service came under threat, they set up their own community transport company, making headlines right across the UK. But more of that later…

Douglas Fraser, arms folded, standing in front of a minibus with Glenfarg community bus livery.
Glenfarg’s community bus is the pride of the village, says Douglas. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

Douglas and his wife have lived in Glenfarg for 18 years. The retired engineer chairs the community council and has a hand in plenty more local groups, and there’s nowhere else he’d rather stay. Here’s why.

1. Glenfarg Community Centre

The community centre is more than just a building in Glenfarg. It’s the beating heart of the village.

We visit on a Thursday morning when the weekly coffee lounge is in full swing. Pensioners chat to mums with pushchairs while a seemingly endless supply of teas, coffees and delicious home baking pour out of the kitchen.

Douglas Fraser holding a frothy coffee at a table with two other men, with a large number of people seated and standing behind them in Glenfarg community centre.
Douglas and pals at the Thursday morning coffee lounge in Glenfarg Community Centre. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

You’ll find it buzzing most days, says Douglas.

“We’ve got more than 20 groups using the community centre on a regular basis,” he says.

“There’s the coffee lounge, a soup kitchen, Zumba, yoga, wine club, community cinema, scouts, beavers… everything goes on here.

“It’s brilliant for social interaction. We have all these groups in Glenfarg being driven by lots of individuals, and everything comes together and connects here.”

Glenfarg community centre exterior.
Glenfarg community centre – the hub of the village. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

And it’s about to get busier still.

The community has taken on the old schoolhouse next door, creating up new meeting rooms and much more space for activities indoors and out.

Glenfarg's former schoolhouse and garden, attached to the old village hall, which is now the community centre
The old schoolhouse and its garden are now part of the community centre too. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

“It’s going to give us much more opportunities,” says Douglas.

“Watch this space.”

2. Glenfarg Green

Glenfarg Green used to be a coal yard. Now it’s a green oasis in the centre of the village.

It was given to the village by the Lascelles family, who lived in the house across the road until 2008.

Brian and Maggie Lascelles were both keen gardeners and they developed the land, planting trees and installing a bridge and a pond, before passing it on to the community.

“The Glenfarg and Duncrievie in Bloom group take care of it now,” says Douglas.

Sign for Glenfarg green, with Douglas Fraser walking through trees towards camera
Glenfarg Green is a tranquil place for all. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

“And once a year the village has a tidy-up. We’ll maybe have 20 or 30 people here, draining the pond, clearing weeds and generally keeping the place looking nice.

“It has just blossomed over the last 30 years. We’ve got some quite rare species now, and the pond is a real haven for wildlife.

“People come and walk their dogs, or just for a quiet place. It was very well used during Covid. It’s just a lovely peaceful place to have right in the middle of the village.”

3. Glenfarg Community Bus

Glenfarg’s community bus is the envy of other towns and villages. Communities across the country are eyeing its success and it’s being viewed as a model for public transport in many other rural areas.

Number plate on Glenfarg community bus - GF55 BUS
Glenfarg community bus volunteers mean business. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

“It started with the demise of our 55 bus service to Kinross,” says Douglas.

“The community council came up with the idea of a community bus to fill the gap, and it’s all just taken off from there.

“We have five buses now, run by the Glenfarg Community Transport Group, with volunteers and paid drivers. There’s an hourly service to Kinross. We do school pickups for Arngask Primary and pupils in places like Strathmiglo and Gateside who are outwith the catchment area for Kinross High School. And we do excursions to things like the V&A Dundee and Ikea.

“In the run-up to Christmas, we were taking groups to the Kirklands Hotel in Kinross, the Bein Inn and the Kirkstyle at Dunning, so it’s good for local businesses too.”

Robert and Christine Morton laughing next to open door of Glenfarg community transport minibus
Glenfarg Community Transport Group stalwarts Robert and Christine Morton. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

The Glenfarg bus has been featured in national papers and TV after the Courier reported on its success last summer, and organisers are launching a brand new Perth route this year.

“We carried 400 passengers the other week, compared to 120 a year ago,” Douglas adds.

“For a lot of them it’s a social thing. We get people taking the bus just for the journey and the company on the way.

“It’s not a bus service, it’s a community service.”

4. Glenfarg Village Store

The sign outside says Glenfarg Village Store. But actually, says Douglas, it’s the nerve centre of village life.

Glenfarg village store exterior. A small blue and white painted shopfront with noticeboard in window
Glenfarg village store. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

It’s a boon for older residents and people who find it difficult to travel to the supermarkets in Kinross and Perth.

But its value to the community is far more than commercial.

“During Covid, these guys acted as the nerve centre for the community,” says Douglas,

“They were delivering food parcels all day, every day to people who couldn’t get out of their houses because they were isolating.

“And they’re still supporting all sorts of things in the village, like the monthly pub in the community centre and Christmas fairs.

Crossroads in middle of Glenfarg, facing Church Brae, a steep hill with houses on either side and a church halfway up
The shop sits at a crossroad in the centre of the village. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

“They should be really proud of what they did for Glenfarg then, and everything they do now. And we’re really luck to have them.

“It’s not just a shop, it’s a community asset.”

5. Glenfarg walking and cycling routes

“We’re really spoiled for choice in Glenfarg,” says Douglas.

“There are great cycling and walking paths everywhere you turn.

“You can go up Church Brae, across the bridge over the motorway… Any road you take out of the village will lead you into lovely countryside in a matter of minutes.”

View of Glenfarg, with closed Glenfarg Hotel, taken from pedestrian gridge across the M90 Perth to Kinross motorway
Glenfarg from the M90 motorway bridge. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

Another of the aims of the community transport group is to extend cycling and walking opportunities around Glenfarg.

And Douglas says locals want to open up the village’s charms to a much wider population.

“The next thing we’re planning is an electric bike scheme,” he says.

“Ideally we’re hoping people will be able to catch the community bus to Glenfarg than borrow an electric bike and explore everything we have here.”