Crieff Hydro, Perthshire, Scotland by

I heard the name of this place and thought, “A water system? Perhaps a dam? An electric plant? What is this?” Well it turns out that I was wrong on all counts; the Crieff Hydro is a premier leisure resort in Perthshire.

Perhaps British ears hear “hydro” and automatically think “hydrotherapy”, but my American context didn’t quite get that. So now I’ve done a bit of research into hydrotherapy, and you might be interested in what I’ve discovered. 

“Water cures” have been around since the Greeks and Romans, but began to be marketed in Europe in the 1800s as a cheap health program that could be done at home (the original term “hydropathy” is derived from the words for “water” and “home”). Before long, though, water resorts were being established and this medical practice became quite the tourist draw (Remember the allure of Bath in Jane Austen novels? Everyone wanted to “take the waters.”) Recreation rooms were set up, and spas began to be places where people socialized and promenaded as well as bathed and gulped down foul-tasting mineral waters.

The Crieff Hydro (or Crieff Hydropathic Establishment) was built in hydrotherapy’s heyday, in 1868. Thomas H. Meikle opened the doors of the Strathearn Hydropathic Establishment Company (catchy, eh?), which was probably modeled after another spa in Austria with treatments involving water, plenty of exercise, fresh mountain air, bathing in local streams, and wholesome country food. 

 Terrace at Winter Garden Cafe Crieff Hydro by
It became quite the booming business, and Meikle’s descendants still run the place 140 years later. Granted, things have changed a bit since 1868. They now offer such therapeutic treatments as off-road driving, snooker, tandem bikes, zumba, miniature golf, horseback riding, cinema, croquet, basketball, and archery. Check out the video below to see more of what the Crieff Hydro offers today (I wonder if they still have the nasty water): 

Glass of Water, a photo by Greg Riegler Photography on Flickr.

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Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 3 comments

  1. J_on_tour@jayzspaze Reply

    I have friends who love this place. They have been going for an extended weekend every year. The choice of selected Scottish accents in the promotional video made me smile.

  2. Andy Reply

    It’s certainly a lovely part of the world. My grandparents lived in Crieff so I spent many happy summers and Christmases there!

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