Pitlochry

We arrived in Pitlochry, Scotland, on December 14 and had a lovely stay.  Mike was here 12ish years ago alone and played a bit of golf and toured the smallest whiskey distillery in Scotland (Edradour).  It’s a sweet little town full of friendly people and beautiful Victorian architecture.

Inside the railway station, a colorful mural welcomed us. 

Pretty station with a bookshop!  What could be better?

The apartment came with a shelf full of toys for the kids and wine and flowers for the grownups! Perfect!

 

Here’s a view from our 3rd floor window.  In the second picture (below), you can see the Pitlochry library bookmobile in blue parked out front!

On our first full day in Pitlochry, we decided to visit Atholl Palace, which is actually a hotel and spa.  I read about a small but interesting museum that had some fun stuff for the kids and was a short walk from our apartment.  In fact, we only walked a few blocks before I saw a brown sign that seemed to indicate the palace entrance. (If you look closely, you can see the brown sign just under the fancy thistle lamp post.) The entrance to the palace is just beyond the car with its lights on coming around the bend.

Well, I thought, “According to my handy-dandy map, we’re supposed to turn left here. That sign must be for those who need to park their cars,” and I proceeded to lead us left up a hill, instead of straight toward the sign (and entrance).

Yes, as previously noted in other posts, I haven’t had good luck with getting us to places in the most direct route, and this was no exception.  BUT! If we hadn’t turned left and just walked a few hundred yards to the entrance of the palace grounds, we would have missed all of the scenery below!!

Hills and sheep and old fences…

Babbling brooks, a cool gate, and bridges…

  

Even a smallish waterfall…

 

That upon walking a few more steps, we realized was quite a big waterfall!

 

First-ever family selfie!

Now…which way to go…I was not necessarily making direction decisions at this point! 😉

Wait…what’s that through the trees…do you see it?

Yes! It’s the back of Atholl Palace! (See, I knew where we were the whole time! I just felt like a bit of a walk!  For the record, we walked about 2 hours before finding the palace… 🙂  )

And coming round to the front, we saw a putting green right on the front lawn, a beautiful entrance…

  

and a cool lion!

Inside, we oohed and ahhed over the beautiful decor, 3 grand pianos, and the details of this beautiful building! (The grand piano with the cover over it in this picture is from 1893!)

 

Downstairs was the Atholl Palace Museum, set in the old servant’s wing.  It covered the history of the hotel from its opening as a hydropathic venue in 1878 to serving as two different schools during WWI and WWII to a luxurious resort after the wars and up through the present day.  Next door to a room that offered a short historical movie about the hotel, there was a billiard table!

After a looooonnnnggggg game of pool, we stopped by the Stag’s Head Bar in the palace for a soda for the kids and a whiskey for Mike — a 16-year old Lagavulin. I tried a sip…smooooooth!

We chose to exit via the front of the palace this time…and walked past the Japanese Gardens on the grounds, complete with a giant pine cone in front of a Sequoia tree.

Remember that sign that I couldn’t quite make out on the way to the palace…well, here it is.  I stopped and took a picture of it as we walked past it. 🙂  Again, think of all we would have missed!!

The next day, we went to the Heathergems factory.  It’s just a small building a block or so from our apartment.  I’d seen Heathergems jewelry in Edinburgh and thought it would be fun to see the factory, since we’d be in Pitlochry anyway.  The gems are made using the stems of the heather plant and a resin to make beautiful gems used in uniquely Scottish jewelry and gifts.  I was intrigued by how they make these hard “stones” out of the stems of a plant.

Samples of the stones before they are fitted into jewelry settings.

Later in the day, Mike walked to the Blair Athol Distillery, while the kids and I went to check out the library. 🙂

Here’s what Mike saw:

     

And here’s where the kids and I were…the room with the light on is the library.  It’s a tiny little place but so well organized with a nice selection of books and a very nice children’s area. (It looks late, but it’s dark by 3:30!)

Our last morning in Pitlochry began with a beautiful sunrise and a bright day. (If you look closely, there are railroad tracks in this photo. They ran right behind our apartment. It was actually kind of fun to hear it rumbling past us.  And, maybe because we were up on the third floor or maybe not, it wasn’t too loud and didn’t shake things around. 🙂 )

We sat in chairs like the one below at the church service in Stirling.  We thought it was a fun idea to use them as kitchen chairs.  They are super heavy, so one can’t tip over…especially wee ones who like to move about in their chairs. 🙂  Rather than hymnals or prayer books, you could use the little shelf for napkins or bibs or things. 🙂

Waiting on platform 2 for our train to Inverness.

Cool Victorian-era fountain.

New hiking boots for 3 of the 4 of us.  Mike’s literally fell apart after 15+ years!  G and L outgrew theirs. (We bought both of theirs a little big 2 years ago, so it made sense that they’ve outgrown them.)  Mike and G got their new ones several weeks ago, thus the mud and such.  L just got his the day before, so they still look new. 🙂

L admiring his cool new boots (and rainjacket) and/or posing politely for his mom. 🙂

Fun on the train…crafts and relaxing.

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