Whilst travel abroad is still restricted, the key word being typed into google this summer is ‘staycation’. This summer is an opportunity to explore the local and regional spots that have usually been neglected in favour of sun. A holiday in Scotland can offer the fun and adventure of a holiday abroad, and provides stunning backdrops to explore. James and I substituted our hopes visiting Maltese temples in favour of a 2 hour bus to Pitlochry. Here’s my holiday guide to the best things to see and do in Pitlochry, Scotland.
Where to Stay in Pitlochry?
First up, is accommodation. We looked at different options, from air bnbs, hotels and bed & breakfasts, and quickly settled on the adorable B&B, Beinn Bhracaigh, nestled above the valley of Pitlochry. We decided to splurge a little, since this trip was our anniversary gift to one another, and treated ourselves to the Junior Suite.
The B&B was everything you could possibly need for a short getaway. The owner, James, was incredibly friendly and made us feel right at home straight away. Of course, with regulations in place over summer, some of the communal areas and the bar were off limits, but we were still able to use the outdoor areas, borrow dvds (all cleaned before & after use) and enjoy breakfast from the dining room which had a stunning view across the valley.
Breakfast each day was prepared fresh, and we had plenty of choices from a full Scottish fry up, to rostis, croissants, and whiskey porridge.
The room was gorgeous, with a stunning view and plenty of room with a King sized bed and ensuite. James even surprised me with a massive bunch of flowers waiting in the room, which I made sure to take home with me at the end of the week.
What To Do in Pitlochry?
Pitlochry is located in Perthshire, and has many things to do no matter what your interest – from walking and fishing to bungee jumping for the more adventurous, this wee part of Scotland has it all. I’m sharing just some of the activities James and I got up to. The weather was uncharacteristically hot for a Scottish summer, so we spent almost all our time enjoying the outdoors.
The town of Pitlochry is small, with lots of outdoor shops and places to eat. We found ourselves working our way around most of the food options in town – falling completely in love with Victorias and the Old Mill. The butcher also had incredible pies which we had as lunch a couple of days (I desperately wish it had been open on the Sunday when we left, as we had planned to take a bunch of their macaroni and steak pies home.
Wandering around Pitlochry, you’ll see a salmon ladder and walks around the damn. The fish ladder was built between 1947 and 1951, and over 5000 salmon pass through yearly (there’s a counter that you can keep track of). There’s also a visitor centre, which is free entry, and you can learn about the hydro power history, as well as get a great view. The walk over the ladder was unfortunately closed when we visited, due to its narrow walk way, but you can still walk up close to the ladder, as well as cross the River Tummel at different points, such as the suspension bridge which shakes as you cross!
There are so many activities in and around Pitlochry to do – there’s a whiskey distiller at Blair Atholl, as well as Blair Atholl castle itself nearby. You’ll be able to find lots of companies offering activities for rafting, gorge jumping, fishing and more. As we only had a few days booked, we had to limit ourselves to just a few activities – and I feel we struck a good balance between relaxing and adventuring. I’d love to make a return visit and explore some more.
Where To Go in Pitlochry?
Walk to Killiecrankie
Killiecrankie is a village just south of Pitlochry, which is steeped in Jacobite history. Set aside a few hours for a walk along the river, with beautiful views. We set off with a takeaway sandwich and bottles of water in our backpack, and shortly came to a still loch, just set off from the river in Faskally Woods. The water was peaceful, and with the sun streaming through the trees, it was a perfect reflection. And a perfect photo opportunity.
Killiecrankie is famous for its part in the Jacobite uprising. This area is filled with walking trails to follow, and activities to take part in. The visitor centre gives you the opportunity to learn more about the Battle of Killiecrankie and a chance to see artefacts and replicas (although closed due to regulations when we visited). You can also join adventure groups here, and bungee jump off of Garry Bridge with Highland Fling Bungee. We weren’t quite brave enough ourselves, but we did stop to watch some brave souls jump on our walk back to Pitlochry.
The Battle of Killiecrankie
Killicrankie was part of the first Jacobite uprising (when John Graham of Claverhouse fought for the exiled King James VII & II. The Battle of Killiecrankie is the only battle where the Jacobites were victorious, and is a historic site for this very reason. The Jacobites were able to run the redcoats from Killiecrankie, pushing them back to the Pass of Killiecrankie, where Donald McBane famously leapt across the river.
Soldier’s Leap is the spot where Donald McBane (a Redcoat soldier) jumped across the River Garry to flee the Jacobites – a distance of 18ft! This point is marked on the trail, so you can marvel at the distance that he managed to jump. The visitors centre has this distance marked out on the ground, so you can try the jump for yourself.
Kayak Loch Faskally
Loch Faskally is a man made reservoir, fed by the River Tummel. On it, you have your pick of water based activities – from kayaking, canoeing and pedaloes, to fishing, or paddle boards. We hired one man kayaks from Fish Faskally, for a few hours of fun on the water. It was a tiring afternoon, and my arms were feeling heavy the next day, but it was a great opportunity to see the area from a different view.
Visit Fish Faskally here to find out about all the water sports they have on offer!
Canyoning the Falls of Bruar
If you’re looking for an activity that will have your heart racing and adrenaline pumping then look no further than canyoning. This is something I hadn’t heard about before, although James had done it once when he was younger, and convinced me to give it a go.
I never thought jumping, sliding and abseiling down a waterfall would be an activity for Scotland, but it was one of my highlights of the trip. We booked with Nae Limits, for 3 hours canyoning the Lower Falls of Bruar.
I was a mixed bag of emotions throughout the 3 hours – faced with each jump, I was absolutely terrified, however, I loved every minute of the experience. I pushed myself to complete every part, including sliding down into a drop over the water. This would be an activity I’d recommend to anyone looking for a thrill, and I’m already desperate to complete some of the other courses Nae Limits have to offer.
Hike to Grandtully
On our final day, we decided to hike in the opposite direction, over the hills to the town of Grandtully. The walk took a good few hours, but it was gorgeous going through the woods. Once we arrived and found out the two restaurants were fully booked due to new social distancing / capacity guidelines, we managed to grab an outdoor seat for a hot chocolate, then a quick look around the chocolatier.
Every moment of this trip was just great. From all the local restaurants that we ate at each night, to each activity we did, and spending so much time in nature. Pitlochry is a perfect place to spend a few days and relax, and feels far away from the hustle and bustle of the cities.
Share your experiences of Pitlochry in the comments, or any recommendations for Scottish staycations!