Weekend in Perthshire Scotland – Part 2

Weekend in Perthshire Scotland – Part 2

Ruined bridge outside Aberfeldy

Last week in – Part 1 – I spoke about what to do in Pitlochry, the theatre festival, Loch Faskally and the fish ladders.

After our mini tour of Pitlochry we washed, changed and went for a meal at – Drummond’s before walking to the theatre to see the first of our two shows. Drummond’s is located in a lovely setting next to the River Tummel. I’m vegetarian and always moan about the lack of vegetarian food on offer. I had the only veg option, a veggie lasagne and my husband had Scottish salmon. Both came with veggies. I would have liked a wider variety to choose from but what we had was good and the service was great.

Blair Castle Ballroom

On day two we only had a morning to spare as we only had to be back at 14.00pm for the matinee show. We took a drive out to see Blair Castle. It’s one of the better castles to visit in Scotland. Entrance was £9.50 each. We walked from room to room . . . to room to room . . . to room. I lost count of how many we passed through.

Each one had either been restored with original furniture or had mementos and souvenirs relating to the Dukes of Atholl, their families, historic visitors and the Atholl Highlanders who are the only private army in Europe.

The Atholl Highlanders were formed as a personal guard for Queen Victoria and her husband Albert. It was at Blair Castle that Victoria fell in love with Scotland and set about building her own castle not too far away – Balmoral Castle. The current royal family still love to escape to Scotland and it’s easy to see why.

Any castle visit takes longer than you think. Allow at least 3 hours to see the exhibits and wander around the gardens. Most castles have cafes so you can plan a lunch stop at a castle.  I can’t promise good food. You can even sleep over in certain castles.

Blair Castle

George Murray, the 10th Duke of Atholl placed Blair Castle into a trust to ensure it’s preservation. His successor the 11th Duke of Atholl was a born and bred South African. John Murray came out from South Africa to Scotland to inspect the guards every year. He was succeeded by his son, Bruce Murray this year (2012), so the 12th Duke of Atholl is also South African. Who knows how many people with royal blood lines live around the world?

McKays in Pitlochry

After the matinee we went to McKays for a meal. McKays is a hearty, down to earth place, done up in contemporary Scottish style. The waitrons, both male and female, wear kilts or tartan skirts. McKays food is reasonably priced and entertainment ranges from a live band to a Ceilidh  (pronounced cay-lee) evening, which is traditional Scottish dance and music. It’s a festive and popular place.

We shared a starter of fried mozarella and salsa. My husband had Shetland salmon with vegetables and said it was the best salmon he had ever eaten. I had a jacket potato with cheese and beans. With a bottle of wine, our meal came to around £35.

Blair Castle Hercules Garden
Big Old Yew in Fortingall

The next morning we had cooked oats for breakfast. My other half had a choice of kippers which came complete with the head, eyes teeth and tail or haddock. I had boiled eggs. The breakfasts at Dundarach were good and their service was excellent. I loved the tartan carpets and old wooden staircase in the foyer.

After brekka we decided to do a round road trip taking in the towns of Aberfeldy, Kenmore on Loch Tay and Fortingall. We passed a few ruined bridges and visited the oldest Yew tree in the world in Fortingall. This poor tree has had so many hardships. It should be much bigger but at least it is still growing and is still the original tree.

We drove back along the beautiful Loch Tay and stopped at Queens View, which is a view point taking in Loch Tummel and the Glencoe Mountains. It’s named after Queen Isabella, wife of Robert the Bruce, but some say it could be named after Queen Victoria.

If you have time you might want to consider doing a bit of cycling. We saw plenty cyclists out enjoying the local sights. We had our car so we took a slow drive back to Aberdeen via Royal Deeside area passing Balmoral Castle and driving through the pretty towns of Braemar, Ballater, Banchory and Crathes. Royal Deeside is the area adjacent to Perthshire. It is similar and just as beautiful. Read more about that road trip – here

Loch Tay outside Kenmore

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

Weekend in Perthshire Scotland

Weekend in Perthshire Scotland

Travel in Perthshire Scotland in 2012

Dundarach Hotel

This blog is posted in two parts.

They have an annual theatre festival in the village of Pitlochry in Perthshire, Scotland. My husband and I decided to take a long weekend, see a few shows and explore Perthshire. The Scottish countryside is renowned for it’s beauty. It’s a combination of mountains and forests with streams and rivers that feed into their salmon filled lochs. The natural environment is a big part of the attraction to Scotland, but that’s not all. There are castles aplenty, scenic drives, walks, museums, views, craft shops, whisky and beer tastings and stone circles to see and do. But just hanging around a pretty town like Pitlochry, enjoying local produce and listening Scottish accents was also on our agenda. Apparently Scottish and Irish accents are the ones we most love to listen to.

Old Mill Inn Pitlochry

The – Pitlochry Festival Theatre – began in 1951 and the show was initially housed in a tent. Today they have a proper theatre which is located right next to the Tummel River. It has large windows with views of the river and you can relax in their cafe with a glass of wine and a snack, or have a three course meal before a show.

Try to avoid visiting July and August when the Scottish schools are on holiday and the town is heaving with humans. The theatre has a group of actors who mix and match roles in their various productions. We chose to see – 39 Steps – and – Communicating Doors. My husband booked our tickets on-line. Tickets were £28 each.

Queens View – Loch Tummel and Glencoe Mountains

We had lots of time to get from Aberdeen to Pitlochry as we weren’t traveling far, so we set our Tom Tom to shortest route as opposed to fastest route. That way we could take in a few little villages en route. Visit Scotland – have brown road signs that clearly show the local – scenic drives, which is handy if you want to see more than a highway. The trip from Aberdeen to Pitlochry took around 2 and 1/2 hours. We booked a Chevy Spark on-line with – Enterprise Rent a Car. The car cost £55 incl VAT for 3 days. On this occasion my husband skipped the £10 per day insurance. We travelled about 250 – 300 miles and petrol bill for the weekend was £30. The Tom Tom was our own.

Hydro Electric scheme at Loch Faskally

We checked into – Dundarach Hotel – in Pitlochry just after lunch. There was time in hand to go walkabout and collect our tickets before we got ready for the theatre. The Dundarach Hotel cost £100 per night for two of us. We normally would go for cheaper accommodation but there wasn’t much available. This is a popular event and advance booking to get bargains is a prerequisite. You can try – Late RoomsBooking.com, Farm Stay UK, Scottish Independant HostelsHostelling Scotland – for links to accommodation.

Pitlochry Fish Ladder

At the Pitlochry Theatre Festival ticket office we discovered that, not one, but two cast members had been hospitalised. Gasp. They cancelled one of our evening shows but juggled a matinee performance of – Little Shop of Horrors – for us instead. We thought we would book a meal at the in-house restaurant but also discovered the restaurant was booked up a year in advance, so that took care of that idea.

What to do and see in Pitlochry? It’s very, very touristy. Lots of tour buses pass through and hoardes of people with back packs, bum bags and cameras roam the streets. Pitlochry is free of mega development and retains a quaint old village charm. Lovely old granite stone cottages line the streets and it’s all postcard pretty. Walking around the village and then relaxing with a cup of tea with a slice of local cake is a pleasant way to spend the afternoon. Try – Hetties Tearoom.

Inside Pitlochry theatre
Dundarach Hotel

The canny Scots use their natural geology to their advantage and have created hydro electric schemes all over the country. There is one such scheme at Loch Faskally.  And that’s not all, to preserve their salmon numbers, they have incorporated a ‘fish ladder‘ so salmon can swim upstream to spawn. We visited Loch Faskally and saw the hydro electric scheme. The mechanics are interesting and the loch has not been spoiled with an ugly industrial building but rather a subtle arrangement in keeping with the local area. The fish ladder is more a sort of tunnel beneath some steps that the fish can swim through. They have a viewing area where you can watch and count the salmon as they swim past but they were shy when we tried to see them.

You can take in a – whiskey tasting – and tour at the home of Bells at – Blair Atholl Distillery.  A basic tour costs around £6. Moulin Inn have a brewerey where you can see a local micro brewer make – Braveheart Ale. The tour is free and I am told you get a complimentary bottle of ale after the tour.

Next week in – Part 2 – I deal with Blair Castle, Loch Tay, Loch Tummel and the towns of Kenmore and Portingall.

Go to – My Holidays and Trips – at the top of this page to read about other places we have visited. Or just click on – this link.

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