Day 3 – Friday
Friday. We decided to reduce our time in the car today, although that proved harder to do than we thought. We wandered south of Aviemore and figured that we would stop at whatever caught our fancy. The goal was the Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry, but there wasn’t a lot of pressure to get there.
Our first stop was the Laggin Parish church. It was an unassuming church at a sharp bend in the road and I stopped more out of idle curiosity than anything else.
Some of the grave markers had amazing stories etched into the stone, telling the reader not just who was buried there and the length of their life, but also about their deeds and accomplishments.
The church didn’t hold our attention for long and we got back on the road south. Our goal was the Edradour Distillery, noted as “The Smallest Distillery in Scotland”. Neither of us like whiskey but we were both curious about seeing how it is made. It took us longer than we thought to get to the town of Pitlochry and then even longer to find the distillery itself. Once we got there we had a change of heart: we looked at the crowds and the ticket desk and lost all interest. Maybe if we enjoyed the beverage we would have convinced ourselves, but knowing that there would be no real reward at the end of it just took all of the wind out of our sails.
Shortly after leaving the distillery we saw a sign for Blair Castle and decided to check it out. But first – lunch! There were some beautiful buildings across from the entrance to the castle and one of them was the Atholl Arms Hotel (and bar!). We parked the Lemon in front and walked around back to the nearly empty restaurant. The guy behind the bar was full of charm and character and took our order with enthusiasm rarely seen. The meal was great and we really enjoyed the atmosphere of the place.
Atholl Arms Hotel
Part of the allure of eating at the Atholl Arms was the proximity to Blair Castle, directly across the road and down a long tree-lined drive. We started our tour with the gardens where we learned about the long history, abandonment, subsequent changes and the current rehabilitation of the gardens. The gentle rain that occasionally fell was appreciated.
Blair Castle gardens
Delphiniums are all over Scotland – I loved it!
After the gardens we followed a path up a slight hill where some Highland cattle surprised us, as well as some more sheep. I had been looking forward to seeing some of the famous shaggy cattle since we arrived and it was exciting to see them so close.
Sheep with the castle in the background
Another surprise lay in wait for us: St Bride’s Kirk. It was a ruin sitting near the old road, hidden amongst large trees and scattered gravestones. We walked through the remains and then headed for the castle.
St Bride’s Kirk
Inside the ruin
There wasn’t any photography allowed inside the castle itself which is probably just as well, as interior shots are always harder to compose anyway. We wandered around the rooms, checking out the displays and reading up on what we were looking at. One time I asked the guard what a bank of switches on the wall were for and he had the same three guesses that I did. So much for “local knowledge” 🙂
Eventually we reached the other end of the castle and were back outside. We had our fill of history and were ready for something else – what would we chose?
The only room I was allowed to photograph
We had driven through the town of Pitlochry on the way to distillery and it had intrigued us. We drove back to the town and parked a few blocks off of the main street and started walking around. It was a lively town and full of tourists and interesting shops. After a brief up and down of the main street we were called off to the side by signs that lead to a dam. A short time later we found ourselves on the concrete walkway of the dam, overlooking an ambitious fish ladder. It was easily the longest fish ladder I’d ever seen, and well used by over 7,000 fish per year. We didn’t see any, of course, but I’m sure that they were just shy.
Pitlochry Dam with fish ladder in the foreground
More Pitlochry homes
We returned to town where Dan indulged and bought himself a cozy wool sweater from one of the shops. We had an interesting discussion with the shop keeper regarding local politics and the upcoming Scottish vote for independence. It is always nice to get a local’s view of the situation.
Somehow we had whiled away another fine day in Scotland and it was time to return to our cottage. We took a short detour along the Tummel River along the way but as Scotland doesn’t have a lot of roads that connect to one another, we were soon back on the fast road to Aviemore. But only after a couple of points of interest along the way!
I forgot the name of this castle in the middle of a field
The backside of the unnamed castle
And great weather, too