Castle Menzies is a 16th century castle which was the seat of the chiefs of Clan Menzies for over 400 years. It was involved in much of the turbulent history of the Scottish Highlands and played a key role in the second Jacobite rising by hosting both Bonnie Prince Charlie and, only four days later, the Government commander, the Duke of Cumberland.
Rescued from ruin in 1957 by the Menzies Clan Society the castle has been under constant restoration ever since and is now an excellent tourist attraction. If you want to take a wander around a real castle then this is well worth a visit. There is now a small cafe and shop too.
Dunkeld is a pretty little town on the banks of the River Tay about 10 miles south of Pitlochry.
Dunkeld has played a major role in shaping modern Scotland and was, for many centuries, the centre of Christianity in Scotland until the cathedral was largely destroyed during the 16th century reformation. The town subsequently became a major market town boosted by the building of the bridge over the Tay in 1809 linking Birnam with Dunkeld. The cathedral undergoes constant restoration to this day.
There are some great little shops, cafes, delis and bakeries in Dunkeld so it’s perfect for a lunch or coffee stop. However, the main attraction has to be the riverside cathedral and its grounds. Well worth a visit.
Also worth seeking out: The Hermitage, The Birnam Oak and The Beatrix Potter Exhibition at the Birnam Art Centre.
The bridge over the Tay to Dunkeld
The interior of the restored section Dunkeld Cathedral
Ossian’s Hall overlooking the Black Linn Pool in The Hermitage
The Hermitage is apparently one of Scotland’s oldest tourist attractions. It was originally part of the grounds of Dunkeld House and for several hundred years the Dukes of Atholl have been planting trees to enhance the landscape. Most of the trees you see today are less than 200 years old but due to the good soil and sheltered conditions they have grown very tall indeed.
There are a number of short walks between 2km and 8km available at The Hermitage. The shortest walk takes you from the car park (just off the A9 by Dunkeld) through a grove of huge Douglas-firs by the River Braan to the bridge over the Black Linn Pool at Ossian’s Hall. This 18th century hall was once the centre of a wild garden and the balcony gives a great view of the waterfall.
You will find The Big Tree Cafe in the car park at the Hermitage. Excellent home made food – good coffee, soup, cakes and the amazing Stewart Tower Dairy Ice Cream. The Big Tree Cafe is a good enough reason for a visit to The Hermitage on its own!
A lovely short walk to a waterfall through a stunning grove of huge trees. Definitely recommended.
The waterfall at Ossian’s Hall in The Hermitage
The fabulous Big Tree Cafe in The Hermitage
The waterfall at Ossian’s Hall in The Hermitage
The bridge over the Black Linn Pool at Ossian’s Hall in The Hermitage
Carn Liath is one of our favourite mountains in Highland Perthshire. It’s a 975m Munro and is one of the three peaks that make up the Beinn a’Ghlo range. Although not the highest in the range, Carn Liath is the most prominent and can be clearly seen from the A9 (see Blair Castle shot below).
The walk in starts from a car park near Loch Moraig and can be a bit boggy, crossing a stream several times. The hill itself is a pretty steep climb up on a well worn path, but on a clear day the view from the top is well worth the effort.
The other two peaks can be picked off on the same trip but this vastly extends the walk.
If you fancy doing something a little different on your trip to Pitlochry why not try a 40m bungee jump from the Garry Bridge.
Highland Fling Bungee have set up a state of the art steel bungee pod on the underside of the Garry Bridge just outside Pitlochry. It seems to be an enormous structure and the first of its kind in the UK.
The Linn of Tummel is the collection of pools and rolling waterfalls that exist at the confluence of the River Tummel and the Garry. Situated in between Killiecrankie and Pitlochry, the path to the Linn is accessed from the car park at the Garry Bridge. Head down the steps and under the bridge passed the bungee jumpers and you can walk along the banks of the Garry toward the Linn. Continue up the Tummel a few hundred meters and you will get to Coronation Bridge. Round trip to Coronation Bridge is about 4km.
This is classic Highland Perthshire river scenery. These photos were taken in early May before the trees gained much colour but you can get a feel for what the area looks like. This is our favourite low level short walk in the area.
Killicrankie Gorge is a National Trust site a couple of miles north of Pitlochry. The River Garry runs through a stunning deep gorge here on its way to join the River Tummel at the Linn of Tummel and before continuing down to Pitlochry.
The strategically important Killiecrankie Pass is famous for being the site of the first battle of the Jacobite uprising of 1689. 4000 Government loyal troops led by General Mackay were ultimately beaten in a bloody battle by 2000 Jacobite troops led by John Graham of Claverhouse who was himself killed during the battle. In the aftermath, as the Goverment troops fled, Donald MacBean made a spectacular escape by leaping 5.5m across the River Garry at the narrowest point of the gorge.
Today there is a visitors’ centre at Killiecrankie with displays detailing the events of the battle and the history surrounding it. There is a short walk from the visitors’ centre down into the gorge where you can see the now famous Soldier’s Leap. Don’t fancy trying it myself!
The visitors’ centre is also home to Highland Fling Bungee Jumping. If you fancy jumping off the 40m Garry Bridge then this is the place to sign up for action.
The River Garry path can be reached from here giving access to the larger Pitlochry paths network.
Lunch at the 2AA rosette Killiecrankie House Hotel is a must if you can fit it in – not advisable before a bungee jump though!
Soldier’s Leap at Killiecrankie – don’t do it Kenny!
Killiecrankie Visitors’ Centre
The shop and Bunjee Jump office at Killiecrankie Visitors’ Centre
Loch Dunmore is a small loch a short distance from Pitlochry. It is situated in Faskally Woods and can be reached by a short walk from Pitlochry via Loch Faskally or by car.
There is a excellent all-abilities path around the loch and toilet facilities are available in the car park. The Forestry Commission have done an great job with this place and it is well worth a visit at anytime of the year. The Ponticum that lines the banks in spring looks amazing and the loch itself is covered in lilies for most of the summer.
The pontoon at the Boating Station Cafe on Loch Faskally
Loch Faskally was created in the 50′s by the damming of the River Tummel for the hydro-electric network. It is a lovely little loch and has some great short paths around the shores.
One of our favourite spots on the loch is the Pitlochry Boating Station. Here you can hire a wee boat and fishing tackle and try your hand with a rod, or just take out one of the rowing boats for a pootle about the loch. The Boating Station Cafe is also an excellent spot for lunch or just a cup of tea and a cream-cake. Great food and excellent value.
There are a number of walks that start from the Boating Station including a riverside walk a few kilometers up river to Killiecrankie and a shorter walk to an all abilities path at Loch Dunmore. Loch Dunmore is a stunning little spot and plays host to The Enchanted Forest during October.