Location: Perthshire, Highlands of Scotland
today: especially Pitlochry, often visited as a drive through destination with only short stops
public transport: buses between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Inverness stop in Pitlochry, train and local bus services to Blair Atholl
Council area: Perth and Kinross (both)
directions: Blair Atholl – Blair Atholl – Google Maps Pitlochry – Pitlochry – Google Maps
The town of Blair Atholl lies in the northern part of Perthshire in the council area of Perth and Kinross, next to the Rivers Tilt and Garry. The mountains seen around Blair Atholl are the Grampian Mountains, though since 2008 Blair Atholl is part of the Cairngorms National Park, which often confuses people to believe the seen hill tops are those of the Cairngorm Mountain Range.
For most tourists the town is only known for its castle – Blair Castle which really is an amazing place to visit, for more information about Blair Castle click here.
What is today known as the village of Blair Atholl, goes back only to the 19th century – the Blair Atholl Mill. Soon the railway started connecting Perth and Inverness and the town got linked to this railway and was easier to access that way which supported the growth even further.
Thought the village is not big, today, alongside the Castle it offers a Country Life Museum which is open during the summer months and offers something more to see than only the castle.
If you spend more than just a couple of hours in Blair Atholl I would definitely advise you to spend some time in the nature, doing some of the walks starting from Blair Atholl and suitable for all degrees of experience and energy.
Just like its little sister (as I will refer to Blair Atholl now), Pitlochry lies located in Perthshire though a bit closer to Perth than Blair Atholl. Just like it was often the case back in the day, the villages being created were located close to a river, in this case the River Tummel.
Containing mostly of stone Victorian buildings, Pitlochrys buildings mostly date back to the 19th century, however, the history of Pitlochry goes back much further. Famous not only for sights like the fish ladder and the Pitlochry Festival Theatre but also for the great hillwalking opportunities such as up Ben Vrackie or Schiehallion which are both located just outside of Pitlochry, offering a slightly bigger challenge than the local walks such as the walk up to Edradour or a similar walk.
The maybe biggest challenge that can be taken up at Pitlochry is that of the Rob Roy Way or the Scottish National Trial, the first one runs between Drymen and Pitlochry, while the later one runs through Pitlochry and up towards Blair Atholl.
Close to Pitlochry lies the village of Moulin, this village alongside Port-na-craig date back way before the stone buildings you can see in Pitlochry itself today, Port-na-craig housing the original ferry over the River Tummel. Over the years the flow of the river changed and with the dam being built and the creation of Loch Faskally due to that, the Loch after all swallowed up quite a couple of important places of the old Pitlochry.
Like many places in Perthshire and the Cairngorm region, Pitlochry got a lot of its fame from the time in which Queen Victoria visited Perthshire after her the tourists came. All this was supported by the railway arriving and the old military road being exchanged with the A9.
One of the other famous names connected with Pitlochry is that of Robert Louis Stevenson who later worked in nearby Moulin, creating some of his famous works. Finally, in 1947, Pitlochry became a burgh, which was the same year the construction of the dam as part of the Tummel hydro-electric power scheme started.
Alongside the previous mentioned sights of Pitlochry what else you can find here are fabulous restaurants, cafes and not just one but two distilleries, one of which is the smallest legal distillery in Scotland, producing only 12 casks per week, employing only 3 men and being the last place to offer an example of a traditional distillery. This special distillery is the Edradour distillery, located on the eastern end of the town, while the Blair Athol distillery is located at the main road.
One of the famous attractions within Pitlochry, which is especially famous with the younger generations is the Enchanted Forest which takes place in Faskally Wood every October attracting countless visitors. Just so do the Pitlochry Highland Games, which are the last ones being held in the Scottish Highland Games calendar, annually on the second Saturday of September, a tradition standing since 1852.
There is much more that can be said about Pitlochry, many more things about its past and about touristic attractions, but I hope that this short overview is enough for you at this moment in time.