The weather in Pitlochry was great that Saturday. There were blue skies, a lot of sunshine and it was actually quite warm. Even in the height of the summer here in Scotland, you count your blessings if the temperatures hit 19 degrees. So a warm day in the Highlands was an unusual thing.
After breakfast I took a walk down to the Festival Theatre, which was only 5 minutes away from my B & B. The Moulin Burn (Burn being the Scottish word for stream) ran along my path to the Theatre and the banks were bursting with daffodils. The stream rushed along its merry way and at the Suspension Bridge joined the Tummel River. The bridge was opened in 1913 and was built to replace the Port-na-Craig ferry which had crossed the river since the 12th century. The bridge links the town of Pitlochry to the older settlement of Port-na-Craig. The town of Pitlochry itself dates back to the Victorian times and on the other side of the bridge, near Port-na-Craig, was a Reading Room. This was where the gentlemen of the time could go to catch up on local news, read the local newspapers and generally escape the household.
The view of the Festival Theatre from this side of the river was very picturesque in the sunshine. It sits on the bank of the Tummel River and has a commanding view of Ben Vrackie Mountain and the surrounding hills and countryside. Along with a large theatre, there is a restaurant, café, bar and shop and it’s open all year round. It offers a series of 6 plays in the summer months and a variety of concerts, ceilidhs, workshops, tours and talks throughout the rest of the year.
One of the more popular walks in the area is the Pitlochry Dam and Fishladder Walk. It takes you from the town centre, to Loch Faskally, over the Pitlochry Dam Wall and Fishladder, past the Festival Theatre and back into town over the Tummel River and the Suspension Bridge. The most interesting part of this walk is the Dam and Fishladder itself. The Dam was built between 1947 and 1951 as part of a network of dams in the Highlands to generate electricity. The Fish Ladder was built as part of the Dam to allow the annual migration of thousands of Atlantic salmon past the dam wall. It took me about an hour to do this walk and I finished up sitting outside at one the café tables having lunch and enjoying the sunshine. I’m usually a very active sort of person, always busy with things to do and places to go. It was so nice for once not to have to be anywhere or do anything in particular.
After lunch I walked up to Moulin – “up’ being the operative word, as it was all uphill. Thirty five minutes later I got to the little village which has its own craft brewery and a heritage centre. The brewery produces four real ales, with free tours provided by the brewer Monday to Friday, from 9am to 4.30pm. The Heritage Centre is open from May to October and is located in a church which was built in 1830. But the land dates back to the early mediaeval era, when an Irish saint, St. Colman, founded a church there in the seventh century.
Saturday night I was in for a real treat. I went to The Old Mill pub to see if there was any live music and there was. With it being a weekend night it was pretty busy and it was hard to find somewhere to sit. After about fifteen minutes I found a free stool at the bar beside a lovely couple from Galashiels, down near the Borders of Scotland. The band had already started and God they were very, very good. They were called “The Pirates of Paradise”. There was a saxophone player, a guy playing an electric guitar and the main singer/guitar player. I loved their music. Some of the songs were easy-listening jazz melodies and others were really lively and made you want to dance. In fact a few people actually got up and boogied around the floor towards the end. I would definitely go see them again if they ever come to Edinburgh.
It was a great finish to a very enjoyable day.