Locals in Aberfeldy – which has been described as ‘in the middle of nowhere’ – are bracing for a tourism boom after Ed Sheeran wrote about the picturesque Perthshire town on his latest album.
The superstar singer wrote the song The Hills of Aberfeldy having holidayed in the area shortly after his international fame in 2012.
It’s featured on his album Subtract, which went straight to No. 1 upon its release last week and put the sleepy town firmly on the map.
Barmaid Erin Stewart, 30, from the Schiehallion pub, where Ed is known to drop by for a pint and a game of pool, said: “It was a shock that Ed wrote about us because I don’t think anyone really heard. ‘ by Aberfeldy.
“It’s a beautiful city, but it’s in the middle of nowhere. Whenever someone asks me where I’m from, I have to explain that I live 32 miles away perth.”
That’s why real estate agent Susan Warrender, 43, “wasn’t surprised” when Ed wrote about the area’s stunning setting.
She says: “It’s normal to see him around and he’s left alone. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still there Ed Sheeran That’s why people call him, but he always waves in a friendly way.”
Anne Duff, 61, helps run Aberfeldy’s only charity shop, called the Thrift Shop, which happened to have a £1 copy of Ed Sheeran’s autobiography ‘A+ The Unauthorized’ for sale.
The 61-year-old said: “It’s a total coincidence that we had one Ed Sheeran book issued. Obviously someone handed it in because everything here is donated.”
“But I heard the song on the radio the other day and it’s really good. It will be great for the whole area and even for our charity shop because we have a lot of visitors here.
“They will get the caravanners to come here to buy clothes or toys or just buy a book to read on holiday.
But David Sime, the manager of Macdonald Brothers Butchers on Kenmore Street in Aberfeldy, joked he might even launch a special Sheeran sausage to capitalize on the town’s newfound fame.
He says, “Ed has never been here, but I think a Sheeran slice might be a good idea to start with. It might even tempt him next time he’s here.”
The 40-year-old added: “But a lot of customers have been talking about his song.
“It will definitely attract more people to Aberfeldy who may not have heard of our place. It brings out the area out there.
“I think Ed might even attract a younger audience who want to see the area he wrote about.”
English tourist David Sadler, 58, and his wife Helen, 59, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, however, voiced caution.
Carpenter David, who has been visiting the area for 20 years, said: “It’s a beautiful place but I’m afraid if it gets too crowded it’ll end up like the Lake District.”
“You come here to experience the whole area in its natural beauty, but when you have a lot of extra traffic it becomes a problem as the roads here are difficult anyway. It’s peaceful too.
“So yeah, it’s great that Ed loves the area as much as we do, but it worries Aberfeldy is being shoved into the spotlight.”
Susan Warrender agreed. She adds: “Any attention is good, although to be honest I don’t really know if Aberfeldy needs more tourists.
“In February we will all breathe a sigh of relief together when we have our city with us again. But still, it’s nice that Ed introduced us. It shows how much the place means to him.”
Twenty-three-year-old caregiver Lauren Smart admits she’s “not a big” Sheeran fan, but she’s still excited for her city’s name check on his album, which will likely go straight to No. 1.
She says: “I was amazed when he wrote about Aberfeldy. It’s already quite a touristy city, but I’m sure this will give it even more of a boost, especially with overseas visitors.”
Last week, Ed won his $100 million copyright lawsuit in New York over similarities between his hit single “Thinking Out Loud” and the 1973 Marvin Gaye classic “Let’s Get It On.”
And barmaid Erin thinks he wants to return to Perthshire to relax after the grueling trial.
She says: “It’s obviously a place he likes, but it’s also a place where he’s left alone.
“He likes to drink at our sister pub The Black Watch and has come to Schiehallion before because my friend was playing pool and hitting him.
“We just let him be himself. People don’t go hunting to find him, but when he’s in the pub people say hello and chat.
“Often people don’t even notice him because he’s like one of the locals. He draws neither attention to himself nor to himself.”
She adds: “I really like the song too. It’s very folky and not as usual. I think it really stands out.”
Five things you must do in Aberfeldy
THE BIRCHES OF ABERFELDY
A circular walk through mature mixed forest on the western outskirts of Aberfeldy overlooking the falls of Moness and along the slopes of Moness Gorge, a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Tour the distillery, built in 1898, to see how the distinctive honey-rich blend is made, enter the warehouse and explore the interactive exhibit, which includes a recreation of a room in the Dewar family home.
THE award winning bookshop, cafe, gallery and homewares store in a former oatmeal mill in the heart of Aberfeldy. It was opened by Michael Palin in 2005.
In Aberfeldy’s main square is the beautifully restored art deco cinema with a 100 seat auditorium where audiences can enjoy the latest releases and community events including Celtic acoustic music sessions on Thursday nights.
THE spectacular 16th-century Scottish castle in the village of Weem near Aberfeldy was the seat of the chiefs of the Clan Menzies for over 400 years. It once hosted Bonnie Prince Charlie on his way to Culloden in 1746.
Other celebrities who have stopped by the pub include world boxing champion Josh Taylor and former Celtic captain Scott Brown.
But Erin says, “We give everyone the same warm welcome and don’t make a big fuss about them because they’re well-known. I think that’s why they love coming here.”
Now tourism bosses are preparing for an influx of visitors following the release of Ed’s sixth studio album, another international bestseller.
Caroline Warburton, Head of Destination Development at VisitScotland, said: “The picturesque market town of Aberfeldy and the surrounding Highland Perthshire countryside have inspired artists for centuries, perhaps most famously to this day being the poem The Birks of Aberfeldy by Robert Burns.”
“It’s fantastic to see The Hills of Aberfeldy as the final track on international musician Ed Sheeran’s new album. Like Robert Burns, Ed Sheeran was inspired by the area’s dramatic mountains and landscapes when visiting the city.
“We hope the song will introduce this part of Highland Perthshire to a new audience who will be inspired to come and fall in love with the hills of Aberfeldy themselves.”