Only an hour and 45 minute train ride from Edinburgh, Pitlochry is a great jumping off point for a visit to the Scottish Highlands. The town is known for its hill walking, natural beauty and well preserved Victorian stone buildings. Its popularity increased after a visit by Queen Victoria in 1842 when she expressed her liking of the area and the arrival of the railway in 1863.
Here are 6 things to do in Pitlochry:
- Pitlochry Dam and fish ladder – the salmon start swimming up stream in the spring, with peak time being April – August and a late run in September-October. There were no fish to be seen when we visited. There are great views from the dam.
- Suspension bridge – continue a bit past the fish ladder to the pedestrian suspension bridge over the River Tummel that will take you back into the center of Pitlochry on a beautiful walk. Heed the sign that says no cycling or swinging on the bridge since you will feel it sway! People have left their mark on the bridge by leaving locks attached to it.
- Pitlochry main street – enjoy a stroll along a main street lined with Victorian stone building that are now boutiques, sweet shops, cafes, and tea rooms. Don’t forget to look for the Sweeney Todd, Demon Barber shop for a photo!
- Visit the Heathergems Factory – I had no idea what heathergems were until visiting Pitlochry and when I came across their factory. Heathergems produce jewelry and accessories made from Scottish heather. Take the time to watch the movie in their factory and visitor center about the fascinating process of harvesting the dried heather stalks, dyeing them, compressing them with resin and then skillfully cutting them into the shapes for jewelry. They also have a factory shop.
- Eat at a Scottish deli – deli food is not the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Scottish cuisine, but I have seen them in Edinburgh and there were several great ones in Pitlochry. You may not find the Italian or German deli items you may be used to, but Scottish delis have great smoked meats (hello, salmon!), really great cheeses, chutneys and jams, and if you are up for it, game. I had a sandwich with an avocado and cashew pate with red onion, delish.
- Have a wee dram (of whisky) – there are several whiskey distilleries near Pitlochry. I went to Blair Athol, a 10-15 walk from Pitlochry town center. Dating to 1798, the distillery produces a 12 year old single malt whisky. The distillery offers a tour and tasting for £7 ($10). Children under 8 are not allowed on the tour and I had Sam with me so could not do the tour. I could however take him into the courtyard and the shop and up to the tasting area. Luckily, they whipped out a bottle from behind the cash register in the shop and let me taste on the spot!