New Perthshire road tour hopes to avoid rival's traffic troubles
A new Perthshire tourist route hopes to match the success of the North Coast 500, but without the bumps in the road experienced by "Scotland's Route 66."
The Heart 200 takes in Blairgowrie in the east, stretches west to the Trossachs, and includes Pitlochry in the north and Stirling at its southern tip.
The 200-mile trail, which is officially unveiled in May, is unashamedly inspired by the North Coast 500, which has boosted tourism since its own launch in 2015.
But the North Coast 500 has not been without its issues, in particular some tourists' unfamiliarity with passing places and single-track roads.
Susan Malone, of the Bettyhill General Merchant's store in Sutherland, said that while tourist revenue was very welcome, some visitors' behaviour was "causing problems".
She said: "People are not able to drive the single-track roads because they're not used to them, they hire very powerful vehicles that they're not used to driving.
"They can't reverse when they come to passing places, they don't let people by from behind them, and essential services can't go on their daily route and see their patients, or whoever it is, in their normal way."
Perth and Kinross councillor Mike Williamson wants to see the Heart 200 learn the lessons of its northern rival.
He said: "When you read about some of the concerns that locals have around speeding, people having to travel on single-track roads, and some of the issues around wild camping as well, we as a council have to be alive to these experiences."
The councillor said the local authority must think about what it needs to do to "future-proof the Heart 200 and support it to fulfil its potential."
Heart 200 managing director Robert Cairns, who runs the Fortingall Hotel, said the two routes were "different products".
He said: "The north coast is predominantly a single-track road with not very much going right or left.
"If you come into the heart of Scotland and follow the Heart 200 route, it's on major trunk roads, there is a well-established built infrastructure, and there's huge scope to cope with increased numbers."
Mr Cairns said the Heart 200 was not "a driving route per se".
He said: "We're a touring route looking to encourage families and people who are in their 50s. We're not looking for boy racers.
"We're working under a 'slow tourism', around about 29 key stops. Each of these stops will have its own itinerary, places for people to go and visit.
"Perthshire is certainly a different place to the North Coast 500."