48 Hours Around Pitlochry
7th May 2021
From the charming, bustling streets of Pitlochry town, to the quiet beauty of Glen Tilt, Highland Perthshire offers so much to see and do. Many of our tours visit this area of Scotland and our guests always really enjoy their time spent here. Most visitors to Scotland want to see a variety of places on their tour so I’ve come up with a great 48 hour itinerary, meaning you can make the most of your time in and around Pitlochry.
Morning Day 1
Pitlochry is a wonderful Victorian town with plenty of cafes, restaurants, shopping and activities. It is also a great base for exploring the local area - I’d recommend booking a stay at the Tigh Na Cloich Hotel or the Pine Trees Hotel. Both hotels are housed in beautiful buildings which are full of character and both offer top class traditional Scottish evening meals.
Spend your first morning walking along Pitlochry’s high street browsing the shops. Make sure to stop by the Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier. He has won dozens of international awards for his unbeatable truffles!
There are lots of lovely little cafes in Pitlochry so have a browse before choosing your lunch spot. I always visit the colourful Hettie’s Tearoom with its bright teal and pink facade - you can’t miss it! It has that traditional British tearoom feel and the cakes are delicious.
Afternoon Day 1
After lunch make your way to one of the best viewpoints in Scotland - the Queen’s Viewpoint - for the most stunning vista in the area! The viewpoint is within Tay Forest Park and looks out across Loch Tummel, towards Schiehallion mountain. There is a visitor centre with a cafe and facilities which is the start point for a variety of nature trials taking you through the forest. The trails last anything from 15 minutes to 4 hours so you will find a walk to suit every itinerary. Keep an eye out for the wildlife; the park is home to crossbills, great spotted woodpeckers, capercaillie, red squirrels and red deer to name a few.
A short drive away is the village of Blair Atholl, home to two great attractions - Blair Castle and the Blair Atholl Distillery.
Today Blair Castle looks more like a stately family home as it has been very well looked after by the Atholl family who have lived there for over 700 years. There are 30 rooms to visit within the castle which tell the history of Scotland through the lives of this great Scottish family. The rooms have traditional furniture and artwork from a variety of time periods. There are also large gardens surrounding Blair Castle which you can explore.
After the castle it is time to settle down for a wee dram at the Blair Atholl Distillery - in particular their signature 12 Year Old Single Malt Whisky. They have three different tour experiences for you to choose from and always offer a warm reception for travellers.
If you are a fan of shopping, check out the House of Bruar near to Blair Atholl - the Highland Department store. House of Bruar stocks high quality outdoor and casual clothing and there is a large Food Hall full of delectable Scottish produce. It is also great for an afternoon coffee.
If you have some extra time, Blair Atholl has lots of beautiful walks including my favourite glen walk in the whole of Scotland - Glen Tilt. There is a 15 mile circular walk but if you don’t want to go that far, wander down into this breathtaking Glen and come back the same way.
Evening Day 1
If you happen to be visiting in October, book tickets for an evening in the Enchanted Forest. This is a magical evening event within Faskally Wood that is a treat for the eyes and ears with amazing light shows teamed with musical scores. Like the chocolatier, this Pitlochry attraction has won a whole host of awards. Most years the show runs from the 30th of September to the 31st of October… book your tickets early! If you are visiting during the rest of the year, check out what’s on at the Pitlochry Festival Theatre or visit one of the local friendly pubs.
Provided by The Enchanted Forest
Morning Day 2
Today we will venture out of Pitlochry to visit some of the other attractions within Highland Perthshire.
The Scottish Crannog Centre
The Scottish Crannog Centre is a museum displaying information and artefacts from the Iron Age. The star exhibit is a full-size replica of an Iron Age Crannog (a house built on a man-made island) which sits on the banks of Loch Tay. The Crannog Centre is absolutely brilliant; the first time I visited I didn’t want to leave. The replica Crannog is very realistic and not to be missed. The centre also has a whole host of activities which you can book in advance; workshops teaching you traditional crafts and skills such as basket weaving, iron smelting, whistle making and shoe making or take a cruise with Loch Tay Safaris. Most of the workshops are a full day however, so maybe not ideal if you are limited for time.
*Update on the Crannog Centre. Not long after writing this article, the Crannog replica pictured was destryoed by a fire. We were devasted to hear of this news. However, the rest of centre is still open and the nearby Loch Tay Highland Lodges sprung in to action and set up a Crowdfunding campaign to raise the money to re-build this wondeful exhibition. At the time of writing they are 87% of the way to meeting their £50,000 and we are sure they will achieve it. We wish the Crannog Centre the very best.
Afternoon Day 2
The Aberfeldy woods are full of great walks, viewpoints and waterfalls. The best known walk is the Birks of Aberfeldy (birks are beech trees) and it is only a 10 minute drive from the Crannog Centre. It is a 1-2hr walk taking you up through a gorge to give you great views of the Falls of Moness. Our National Bard, Robert Burns, wrote a poem about this beautiful walk and there is a statue of him sitting on a bench situated at the start - great for selfie with the Bard!
Our final stop on our 48 hour itinerary is ‘Scotland’s most romantic cathedral’ - Dunkeld, just over 30 minutes drive from Aberfeldy. A Christian church was first built here in the 9th century but before this there was a Pictish Monastery on the site, making this an ancient and sacred place. There are a few remnants from the 9th century - stones with carvings such as the ‘Apostles Stones’ so this stunning Cathedral really is a window into ancient Scottish history. Much of what stands today is still pretty old, having been built in the 13th and 14th century. Dunkeld Cathedral is an active place of worship so at times access may be restricted due to services, events and weddings. However, it is generally open between 10am to 5.30pm from April to September and until 4pm during the winter months.
The town itself, Dunkeld & Birnam, is a picturesque country town - you will struggle to find a town in this part of Scotland that isn’t! If you are driving, the area is easy to get around but there are also good train links - Pitlochry, Blair Atholl and Dunkeld and Birnam all have train stations and you can reach Aberfeldy and the Crannog Centre by bus, although it will add time onto your itinerary.
Pitlochry and Highland Perthshire is home to Scotland’s best forests, some of its most interesting walks and lots of fascinating history. If you are taking a tour of Scotland I’d definitely recommended including it in your itinerary, for a couple of days or longer if you have the time. There is plenty more to see and do in the area which I haven’t mentioned within this blog. The historic city of Perth has lots of great attractions…. I guess I shall have to write a blog about Perth very soon! If you’d like to visit Pitlochry while touring Scotland, check out our 10 Day Grand Tour.
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