Pitlochry: The Geographic Heart of Scotland
This bustling town in the wooded valley of the River Tummel runs along a main street that’s lined with shops and eating places. Make note of the footbridge. It spans the river straight to the Festival Theater and the Hunter’s Garden. There’s also a view from the footbridge of the salmon ladder. Mostly, walking across a footbridge feels like crossing into a different time and era. It is memorable.
Often referred to as the geographic heart of Scotland, Pitlochry is farther from the sea than any place in Scotland. (Which isn’t very far!) Pitlochry is not a particularly exciting town in itself, but it makes a good base for exploring the surrounding scenery, which is spectacular. If you’re in Pitlochry, any direction you take is the right direction, because you will come across something wonderful.
The famous Road to the Isles starts here, and it continues west toward Loch Tummel Be prepared for deep forested views of regional wildlife.
The Edradour Distillery, tucked into the hills just east of Pitlochry, is Scotland’s smallest, and one of the most picturesque, distilleries. Established in 1837, they handcraft their malt using only local barley. Take an intimate tour and have a tasting. It’s a bit of liquid heaven. Bell’s Blair Atholl Distillery is the oldest working distillery in Scotland, and it’s also in Pitlochry.
Also going east, as you take the road out of Pitlochry, you’ll find more marvelous scenery when you head to the hills. The largest hill has a 1,300 foot incline and drops down into the town of Kirkmichael. Breathtaking! On your way back to PItlochry, slow down for Enouchdhu. There is a Victorian Country House that’s worth a stop. They offer courses and hidden-gem information about Scotland’s natural history.
Heading south? Go to the Dunfallandy Standing Stone. It dates from the time of the Picts and is surrounded by legend. It seems that centuries ago a nun named Tridunana was forced into marrying the son of a Scottish King. She was able to escape to a small castle at Dunfallandy. Here she built up the Praying Stone as a sign of her gratitude. There are many fine guided walks in the area. Take advantage of them, and let yourself make small and exciting discoveries!
Pitlochry itself bustles with visitors, but relax and go with the flow. Look behind the busy-ness, and you’ll see the charming, Highland Victorian town that is still Pitlochry. Beside the nearby sights, you can use the exceptional transportation connections to go even farther afield. Scottish Citylink runs buses between Inverness and Glasgow/Edinburgh quite often. You can also take a stagecoach from several towns to and from Pitlochry.
One of our favorite areas of town is The Scottish Plant Hunters Garden. (What!?!) This extraordinary place is a living, growing adventure story. The plants here span 300 years of adventuring while collecting exotic plants from all corners of the world. The trials, trails, and stories of these world travelers are as exciting as any Indiana Jones movie. See it!
Another unique Pitlochry offering is her jewelry. It’s made of local heather using Celtic designs. It’s a terrific gift for yourself and your friends back home. If you’re in town during the summer, grab a drink and watch the wild salmon leap up ladders to their spawning grounds up river. It’s a chaotic sight that’s full of fun.
The Pitlochry Festival Theater has a varied venue and is one of Scotland’s most popular good times. The Festival Theater operates all year around, and the performances often change daily. It’s a must-see, and a great way to end your day after exploring the Highlands.
Pitlochry is a tartan-and-tweed town with a long history of taking care of her visitors. It’s close to Perthshire, one of Scotland’s most beautiful areas, and many exquisite sporting estates. This town may be your perfect introduction to the varied joys of Scotland!