Day Out From Perth – Pitlochry

Day Out From Perth – Pitlochry

Pitlochry is one of Scotland’s best-loved towns, always lively and full of things to do. It has something for everyone and every taste, from its popular theatre to its Hydro Dam Visitor Centre, from its abundance of thriving shops, bars and restaurants to its walks and wild landscapes nearby. It’s easy to get to by train or car, so we head up the A9 from Perth on a sunny, blue-sky morning, the kind that makes you glad to be in Highland Perthshire.

And because 2017 is Scotland’s year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, we’ll be looking at some beautifully designed buildings and dipping into the past too.

We arrive in Pitlochry and head for Hettie’s Tearoom for our first stop. Outside Hettie’s there are huge pots of brightly coloured flowers singing out against the zingy blue paint; inside the décor’s cheery too – hot pink and blue, with brightly coloured paintings, chandeliers and floral wallpaper.

We order from their tea menu (they have over 30 special blends): a smoky, aromatic Lapsang Souchong and a lively Morning Cuppa, with some enormous, delicious and warm scones (the best kind). After those treats, we’re ready to explore Pitlochry’s bustling streets.

10.30 – Pitlochry Shops

Railway Station bookshop

We go to the station first to visit the Pitlochry Railway Station bookshop, a wonderful store that has raised well over £100,000 for charity. Started in 2005 by a band of enthusiastic locals, it supports among its beneficiaries the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland (CHAS), Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) and Highland Perthshire Shopmobility. The stock is entirely donated but the range and quality is superb – there’s a kids’ section, fiction, biographies, a Classics section, local books and lots more.

Every book is £1 unless otherwise labelled – we got a huge stack of treats for £7. If you haven’t been here already, you must!

MacNaughton’s

Next we stroll up to MacNaughton’s of Pitlochry which is, quite simply, a Highland institution. Since the 1830s, it has been bedecking locals and visitors in tweed, kilts, country clothing and cosy winter knits. My husband needs some new kilt socks and he finds a great selection. There are also bags, sporrans, household items and gifts. The shop is popular with tourists, as you can imagine, and as we leave there’s an huge group of visitors having their photo taken outside the shop’s entrance.

Highland Soap Company

We then spot the Highland Soap Company across the street. We’ve recently converted back to using bars of soap instead of the endless plastic bottles (doing our bit for the environment!) so we pop into the shop, whose products are made in their Lochaber workshop with an emphasis on locally fresh, natural ingredients and herbal therapy. It’s hard to choose from the delicious range but we go for Wild Scottish Raspberry and Scottish Honeysuckle soaps, and a Juniper Bath Melt.

Honest Thistle

Honest Thistle opened five years ago on Pitlochry’s main street, selling tasteful gifts, art and homewares from local and Scottish artists. The owner works alongside her West Highland Terrier Ruby, who sits in her bed in the shop looking very cute. Our particular favourites were some Westie placemats and charming street scenes made from reclaimed wood.

Other shops you might like include Melt Gallery, The Christmas Emporium, Robertson’s of Pitlochry and The Drinkmonger.

11.40am – Wild Space Visitor Centre (John Muir Trust)

We’re big fans of the outdoors and wild spaces, so the next place we go is the John Muir Trust’s new wild land visitor centre, Wild Space.

The John Muir Trust is a conservation charity dedicated to protecting and enhancing wild places. In the visitor centre we listen to audio recordings, look at some beautiful photos, watch their short but compelling film and find out lots of amazing facts.

One fact that amazed us was that, as well as all their protection, regeneration and conservation work, the Trust also clears away piles of banana skins from the summit of Ben Nevis every year (people throw them away, thinking they’ll biodegrade quickly, but it’s too cold!).

“We can build towns and cities, but we can’t build wildernesses…” is one of the lines in the short film. This place is well worth a visit and will make you think – and maybe pick up a membership form…

12.00pm – Lunch at The Old Mill Inn and Cargill’s

On such a beautiful day, it would be a crime not to have lunch outside, so we head from the main street to Mill Lane and take a table among the cascading hanging baskets at the award-winning Old Mill Inn. It’s been refurbished recently but retains its Scottish charm and friendliness. It also has some great live music – check out their upcoming acts here.

We’re glad we got a table early as it’s packed by the time we leave. Judging by the mix of accents all around us, this place attracts visitors from far and wide! We order a steak burger, kids’ cheeseburger and Greek salad. The service is friendly and efficient, the food fresh and very tasty.

After our lunch at the Inn, our wee daughter still miraculously has room for ice cream so we go to Cargills Café where there’s a huge cabinet of frozen delights from Perthshire’s Stewart Tower Dairy. She selects a Mint Choc Chip (good choice!) and we head along the road in the sunshine to visit a uniquely Scottish workshop and shop.

1.15pm – Heathergems

Heathergems is a unique and imaginative range of Scottish jewellery and giftware, made in Pitlochry from natural heather stems. Heathergems are the only manufacturers of this unique product anywhere in the world.

To make this unique product, the heather stalks are picked, stripped, dyed then compressed into colourful blocks, then shaped and lacquered, ready for jewellery and other precious items, which are sold in their large shop and around the world.

There are glass walls in the workshop where we can glimpse the jeweller at work as well as the machinery, including the wonderfully named “Tilghman Wheelabrator” which is used to dye the stems.

1.45pm – Explorers Garden

We fancy a fresh-air stroll in the sunshine now, so we head for Explorers Garden, surely one of Pitlochry’s best-kept secrets. We’ve been to Pitlochry Festival Theatre many times but never to this lovely spot, which is next door and owned by the theatre. Managed by one staff member and a team of volunteers, this six-acre oasis of plants and trees celebrates Scotland’s intrepid plant hunters, including David Douglas, who started his career as a gardener’s boy at Scone Palace, and went on to introduce the world to the legendary Douglas Fir.

The garden is divided into continents and regions of the world, and there are markers throughout with information about these amazing plant collectors who often risked their lives to bring back botanical specimens.

There’s a beautiful curved wooden pavilion tucked away in the trees; you can stand on its balcony overlooking the rushing burn far below and feel as though you’re a hundred miles from any town. There’s also a lovely photographic exhibition inside the pavilion.

Further down the slope we see a charming pagoda with a stunning mosaic floor, then we descend even further into the “Himalayas” before climbing back up to “Japan”.

Even if you’re not particularly green-fingered or a keen gardener, you’ll love this special outdoor space. Come here for a walk, to relax and think, or to buy plants in their little nursery. Explorers Garden is open until the 30th October. Entry is £4 per person or £9 for a family card (and free for RHS members).

You may have heard of the Atholl Palace Hotel, maybe even been to a wedding or party there, but did you know it has a quirky little museum in the basement, next to its Lavender Spa and swimming pool? It’s an exhibition about the hotel’s past, from its beginnings as a “hydropathic” hotel and spa in 1878 to the present day.

We head to the hotel and start with coffee in the lounge, a grand, high-ceilinged and comfortable space – and a great spot to people-watch as the staff and guests come and go.

Then it’s off to the basement for the museum, where we find out some fascinating information – did you know that the hotel’s architect also designed Kinnoull Primary School in Perth? Or that this was the first hotel in the world to have its building recreated in Minecraft blocks as an educational tool for a museum?

We explore the recreated “doctor’s rooms” complete with scary-looking dental instruments, then the bakery and the staff quarters where you can dress up as a servant (sorry, we must’ve forgotten to take photos of that!). There’s also a pool table, a fascinating film about the hotel’s history and lots of photos and memories.

4.15pm – Home time

When we’ve finished larking about in Victorian clothing, it’s time to head for home. We’ve had another fantastic Day Out From Perth, and there are still so many things to do in Pitlochry that we promise ourselves another visit very soon.

Other things to do

Here are all the other attractions that you’ll love to visit in Pitlochry:

Places to stay in Perth

If you’d like to do a great Day Out from Perth to Pitlochry, here’s a list of fantastic accommodation in the heart of Perth where you can stay, before and/or afterwards:

Stay in touch

Make sure you follow Perth City Centre on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news, events, days out and activities in Perth and the surrounding area.

And check out our other Days Out From Perth – you’re sure to find something fantastic to do!

Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival

Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival

This 30th and 31st of July 2017 sees Perthshire host the Soldiers of Killiecrankie Festival. Once more, musket fire will echo through the surrounding hills as re-enactors from around the UK recreate the Battle of Killiecrankie, giving visitors an authentic experience of the sights, sounds and smells of the past.  Information of this can be found at www.soldiersofkilliecrankie.co.uk.

The battle of Killiecrankie was the first battle of the Jacobite wars and originated in the religious troubles of King James VII of Scotland and II of England, who was a Catholic while most of his subjects were Protestant. The Protestant majority knew that by the time the King was in his fifties he still had no male heir to the throne. The next in line to the crown was the king’s eldest daughter Mary who was a Protestant and married to Prince William of Orange.  So the Protestant nobility were hoping that on the King’s death, Mary would restore their faith to the crown.  But in 1688 the Queen had a baby boy who was also to be called James. It became clear that this young prince would be brought up a Catholic, so the Protestants pledged to support Prince William of Orange if he were to invade and take the throne.    

William landed with an army of 10,000 and King James, lacking support, fled to France.   One of King James’s most loyal supporters was John Graham, Viscount Dundee, known better to folk music enthusiasts as “Bonnie Dundee”.   Graham had been on his way south to support the King when he heard James was in France, so he turned around and made his way back to Scotland where he raised the Royal Standard for King James.  He then made his way into the Highlands and gathered an army some 2,000 strong.  

The Scottish Parliament who supported William and Mary sent an army into the Highlands to confront these Jacobites  (from the Latin for James, signifying a supporter of James). This government army was 4,000 strong and commanded by General MacKay of Scourie.  Mackay’s red-coated soldiers moved through the narrow pass of Killiecrankie, between modern Pitlochry and Blair Atholl.  

When the government troops left the pass the General was horrified to see the whole of Graham’s army on the high ground to the right.  The Government army had to turn around to face this threat, leaving Mackay with his enemy on the heights and his retreat blocked by the River Garry behind him.

Graham waited throughout the long summer day on the 27th of July 1689, and when the sun was low in the sky he ordered his clansmen to charge.  The highlanders tore down the hill each man screaming his clan slogan. The terrified redcoats, many from overseas, were totally unfamiliar with this style of warfare, the Highland Charge, where your foe tries to get as close to you as quickly as possible.  They were more accustomed to the pitched battles of the European continent where you stood in lines trading shots at a distance.     

 

The slope the clansman were charging down was terraced and the Jacobites kept coming into and disappearing from view, so the Government troops only managed to fire one volley of shots before the highlanders were amongst them, hacking, stabbing and slashing with claymore, broadsword, Lochaber axe and dirk. The redcoats had been ordered to fix bayonets, these were plug bayonets that fitted into the muzzle of the musket. This meant the musket could not be fired and could only be used as a sort of short pike, a huge disadvantage against the highlander’s broadsword and targe (highland shield). After the Battle of Killiecrankie this changed and government troops would use a bayonet that fitted to the side of the barrel, meaning the gun could still be used. It was carnage and those redcoats who didn’t turn around and flee were cut down.   But this Jacobite victory came at a high cost as late on, with the battle already won John Graham was killed, either shot under the arm as he waved his cavalry forward (the Jacobite account), or shot up the backside as he bent down to drink some water after the fighting was over (the Government account).  

Today there is a visitor centre that offers a good description of the battle and a pleasant walk along the pass of Killiecrankie.  You can visit the soldier’s leap where a redcoat called Donald McBane leapt 18ft across the river to escape pursuing Highlanders and also the Balfour Stone which marks the spot where a Government Officer, Brigadier Barthold Balfour of the Dutch Brigade, was killed when he stopped running and squared up to chasing clansman before being hacked to death.  

More from Perth City

Getting Married in Perth

Getting Married in Perth

Getting Married in Perthshire

When it comes to getting married, Perth and Perthshire are hard to beat. Pretty churches, fabulous hotels, stunning scenery and great activities – our big county has it all. Plus we’re located within a 90-minute drive of 90% of Scotland’s population, so everyone can get here easily!

That means there’s a lot of info and advice packed into this article, so grab a cuppa, relax and let us help you plan the most special day of your life!

The Proposal

Well, every wedding has to start somewhere, right? When you’re ready to pop the question to your gal or guy, you’ll want it to be just right. That doesn’t mean it has to be fancy, just whatever is meaningful to you both. So here are our top recommendations for everything from the ring to the celebratory bubbly!

Where to buy the ring

You can find beautiful engagement and wedding rings from these top independent Perth jewellers: 

Byers & Co

Some will help you to design your own, too!

Where to propose

You might want to propose over dinner at 63 Tay Street, Tabla, Deans, Santé, North Port, The Post Box or Grand’ Italia, to name just a few. Or why not pop the question with style at an event such as the Enchanted Forest, Rewind, the Solas Festival, or Perth Highland Games? You could even get back to nature as you get down on one knee at a Perthshire beauty spot or a riverside walk along the North Inch.

Time to celebrate

Congratulations – they said yes! If you’re now both thinking about tucking into some champers, you don’t have to go far. Exel Wines, Provender Brown, Grayson’s Wine Café, The Venue and The Bothy can all provide you with some delicious bubbly to toast your new status.

Venues and Catering

When it comes to wedding venues in Perthshire, the phrase “spoilt for choice” has rarely been more apt. There are so many that it’s impossible to list them all, but here’s a wide and varied selection of hotels, halls and hot spots to suit every taste and budget.

The Byre at Inchyra

Where – Inchyra Estate, Glencarse, PH2 7LU

What – The Byre at Inchyra is a stunningly beautiful wedding venue set in verdant Perthshire countryside. In February 2017 the Byre’s team was delighted to win UK & Ireland Wedding Venue of the Year in the DWHA Awards run by Destination Weddings & Holidays Abroad Magazine, the UK’s largest bridal magazine. The Byre is a tastefully restored, fully equipped, rustic barn comprising several stylish spaces, set in 150 acres of private parkland. Or you can pledge your troth in the beautiful gardens. You can also use the Bridal Day Room at Inchyra House for getting ready in the morning.

Website http://www.thebyreatinchyra.co.uk/weddings-barn-scotland/

Atholl Palace

Where – Pitlochry, Perthshire PH16 5LX

WhatAtholl Palace Hotel sits in beautifully manicured gardens, high on a hill in the popular town of Pitlochry. From the magnificent tree-lined avenue to decadent suites and a luxury spa, Atholl Palace is a favourite choice for those seeking a Highland fairytale wedding.

Website http://www.athollpalace.com/pitlochry-weddings

Bachilton Barn

Where – Bachilton House, Methven, PH1 3QX

What – Bachilton Barn is uniquely rural, yet a delightfully modern wedding venue located on 700 acres of stunning Perthshire countryside. The converted barn provides private surroundings and provides a perfect blank canvas for wedding couples to draw up the wedding of their dreams.

Website – http://www.bachiltonbarn.co.uk  

Ballathie House Hotel

Where Kinclaven, Stanley, PH1 4QN

What – Ballathie was voted Best Country House Wedding Venue at the 2012 Scottish Hotel Awards and benefits from a glorious position on the banks of the River Tay. For large parties, a marquee can be set up in the stunning grounds. Exclusive use can be arranged of the main house at certain times of the year.

Website http://www.perthshire-weddings.com

 

Comrie Croft

WhereBraincroft, by Crieff, Perthshire, Scotland PH7 4JZ

What Comrie Croft is, in its own words, “a wee bit different from a typical wedding venue”. A 200-year-old farmstead, house and barn set around a courtyard, together with 231 acres of fields and woods, most of the time it’s an award-winning green destination for people camping, hostelling or mountain biking. It’d be an informal, DIY wedding (the team doesn’t plan your wedding for you) but it’s sure to be lots of fun.

Websitehttp://www.comriecroft.com/groups/weddings.html

Crieff Hydro

Where – Crieff

What – Set in 9000 acres of rolling Perthshire countryside, the popular Crieff Hydro has the right space – cosy or grand – for 12 guests or 120. The hotel has a highly experienced wedding co-ordinator and wedding menus are created by three-time Scottish Chef of the Year, Bruce Price.

Websitehttps://www.crieffhydro.com/love/weddings/

Duchally Country Estate

Weddings P

Where – Gleneagles, Auchterarder, Perthshire, PH3 1PN

What – Duchally offers bespoke intimate weddings in a beautiful elegant country estate for up 40 guests, with an outstanding setting for photographs. The wedding party and guests can stay in luxurious lodges on the estate.

Websitehttp://www.duchally.co.uk/bespoke-weddings/

Dunkeld House Hotel

Where – Dunkeld, Perthshire, PH8 0HX

What – Dunkeld House Hotel, a luxury country house hotel that’s just had a £2m facelift, sits on the banks of the River Tay, in 280 acres of woodland. You can have your ceremony indoors or outdoors (weather permitting), and you can arrive down the mile-long drive in a vintage car or even arrive by boat along the Tay.

Websitehttp://www.dunkeldhousehotel.co.uk/occasions/weddings/

Fingask Castle

Where – Rait, Perthshire, PH2 7SA

What – Fingask Castle is a rural and romantic wedding venue set in the heart of Scotland. There’s a wide choice of locations for an exclusive wedding and reception, be it large or small, civil or religious, Asian or humanist – inside the castle, inside the pavilion or in the stunning gardens. Accommodation is expanding, and up to 70 guests can now stay in the self-catering cottages and new one-night stay ‘potting sheds’.

Websitehttp://www.fingaskcastle.co.uk/index.php/weddings/wedding_home

Fisher’s Hotel

Where – Pitlochry, PH16 5BN

What – Fisher’s Hotel was founded in 1830, a mixture of Georgian and Victorian architecture tastefully refurbished for the 21st century. Features include a magnificent ballroom, beautiful Victorian bay windows overlooking the award-winning gardens and Art Deco fireplaces.

Website – http://www.fishershotelpitlochry.com/pitlochry-weddings

Fonab Castle Hotel

Where – Foss Rd, Pitlochry, PH16 5ND

What – This beautiful castle has a magical Highland setting coupled with contemporary interiors and unrivalled loch-side views, making it a favourite choice for fairytale weddings.

Websitehttp://www.fonabcastlehotel.com/weddings/

Gleneagles Hotel

Where – Gleneagles, near Auchterarder

What – Gleneagles Hotel is known the world over for its five-star luxury. As well as the legendary hotel there are three championship golf courses, an award-winning spa, and a two-Michelin-star restaurant. The wedding team can organise your marriage to take place within the hotel, or nearby in a cathedral or a small local village church.

Websitehttp://www.gleneagles.com/meeting-events/special-occasions/weddings/

Grampian Hotel

Where – York Place, Perth

Weddings Perth

What – The Grampian Hotel specialises in traditional Scottish weddings. Its Tartan Function room is perfect for a wedding breakfast and a good size for evening guests to dance the night away. The hotel offers a bespoke service or an inclusive price with guaranteed affordability, all with the best traditions of service.

Websitehttp://www.grampianhotel.co.uk/Weddings

Murrayshall House Hotel

Where – Just outside Scone, PH2 7PH

What – I’m slightly biased as my husband and I got married here 12 years ago, but this is a lovely comfortable hotel set in picturesque rolling countryside. Take your vows in the local church, or marry in the tastefully decorated lounge with its open fire and large windows. The hotel’s under new ownership and is being given a 21st-century makeover, but remains open for business and bookings. And, if you like golf, you can always arrive the day before and have a round or two!

Websitehttp://www.murrayshall.co.uk/weddings

Perth Racecourse

Where – Scone Palace Park, Perth PH2 6BB

Weddings Perth

What – This romantic setting within the lovely parklands of Scone Palace boasts manicured lawns and stunning scenery. The venue is fully licensed and has a wide range of suites. And there’s a wedding co-ordinator on hand, to make sure the going is good!

Website https://www.perth-races.co.uk/Perthshire-Weddings-Celebrations

Royal George Hotel

Where – Tay Street, Perth

What – The Royal George is ideally situated in the centre of Perth. Wedding parties can welcome guests with reception drinks in the Garden Room, overlooking the river and the award-winning gardens, which may be used for your photographs. You can all relax and enjoy freshly prepared Scottish cuisine in The Morning Room, The Restaurant or The Ballroom.

Website http://theroyalgeorgehotel.co.uk/weddings.html

Church and Village halls

Where – Throughout Perthshire

What – If you’d like to get married without splashing huge amounts of cash, or you’d like to do something more low-key and quirky, why not book a local village hall, string it with fairy lights and bunting, get some students to work the bar and hire a caterer and ceilidh band? Your guests will be treated to an informal, fun-packed wedding that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.

Websites (a selection) –

Celebrants

As you have seen Perth has a variety of locations for both religious and civil ceremonies including the registry office http://www.pkc.gov.uk/gettingmarried . Here are some key links:

Perth Presbytery:       http://www.perthpresbytery.org.uk/

Gateway Community Church:      http://www.gatewayperth.co.uk/

St Mathews Church:   http://www.stmatts.org.uk/

Our Lady of Lourdes  http://www.dunkelddiocese.co.uk/our-lady-of-lourdes-perth/

 

More Churches in Perth: http://weekdaymasses.org.uk/en/area/perth-kinross/churches

Perth Action of Churches Together (PACT) which is an ecumenical body with representatives from over 20 churches and Christian communities from Perth and the surrounding area.  http://www.pact-perth.org.uk/

The Wedding Gifts

So just what should your friends and family buy you as a gift? If you’d rather avoid the big national retailers, and keep shopping local, you have some great options:

  • Perth Gift Card – Why not ask for Perth Gift Cards, which you can now spend at over 75 – yes, 75! – shops, galleries, restaurants and venues. Imagine being able to see a year’s worth of gigs at Perth Concert Hall or having loads of fun days and evenings visiting Perth’s indie shops and award-winning restaurants. So much better than getting two of the same type of toaster, right?
  • Travel vouchers – see the “Honeymoon” section, below, for a list of local travel agents, and you could be jetting off to the sun as soon as you’ve packed away the dress and cake!
  • Experiences – White water rafting, bungee jumping and canyoning are popular wedding gifts for thrill-seeking couples – see “Hen and Stag Dos”, below, for all the possibilities.

Wedding Flowers and Cake

You’ve chosen your venue, your theme, your colours – now all you need to do is to find flowers and a cake that complement your special look. Well, look no further – we have florists and cake-ists aplenty in Perth and Perthshire. Here are a couple of useful lists to get you started:

Flowers
Cakes

Photographers / Film-makers

Choosing the right photographer is so important. She or he will spend the whole day with you and your wedding party, capturing all those special moments – the fun of getting ready, the romantic kisses, the all-important vows and the raucous party. Here are some special photographers, recommended by the wedding venues and/or our Perth City readers:

Toastmaster

Professional Scottish Toastmaster Brian Baxter from Scone.

Brian, as well as a current 35 year military career, is an expert Master of Ceremonies, management specialist, event co-ordinator, consultant in procedure, etiquette and protocol, compere, diplomat, presenter, announcer, substitute host, group organiser and an excellent mentor.

For most people, a wedding is a highlight in their lives, a time when families come together to celebrate. It is also a time when people are understandably anxious. Brian is here to:

  • Ensure that the wedding reception is conducted with due attention to protocol.
  • Free the Banqueting Manager and staff to concentrate on the catering arrangements.
  • Add a colourful and traditional Highland touch to the wedding.
  • Provide “peace of mind” for Bride, Bridegroom, Parents and Guests.

As a professional Toastmaster, Brian has given and continues to offer a heightened sense of occasion, efficiency, diligence and passion to any occasion, while providing structure for hosts and guests of any formal or informal function.

Bridal Party Clothes

Whether you’ve been dreaming about “the dress” since you watched Father Of The Bride as a teenager, or you don’t have a clue what you’re after, these fantastic wedding shops will help you to find the perfect outfit – dress, kilt, sporran, accessories, veils, bags, shoes, you name it – to wow them in the aisles:

Strathearn Kilt Hire, Perth

MOTB Clothes

After the bride and bridesmaid dresses are sorted, whose outfits are the next biggest priorities? That’s right – Mother of the Bride and Mother of the Groom! You can’t go wrong at these fabulous boutiques, where the mums will get individual attention and a one-off outfit, hat, handbag or shoes for the big day:

Hair and Make-up

In the frenetic buzz of the wedding day, there’s something special about sitting down with your bridesmaids and closest family to have your hair coiffed and your make-up perfectly applied. Here are some stylists and make-up artists who’ll help you to feel like a million dollars:

Gifts for your Helpers

They’ve made it to every dress fitting, helped you choose your sporran and shared a few gins and beers with you at the hen and stag parties. Now it’s time to choose a gift to thank all your loyal helpers – the bridesmaids, best man, ushers, flower girls, page boys, parents, in-laws and anyone else who’s been there for you.

We think the perfect way to thank them is a Perth Gift Card! It’s a pre-loaded Visa card that you can spend at over 75 local businesses.

Or if you’d rather pick something personal, check out all of these fabulous Perth shops where you can buy them the perfect gift to tell them how much they mean to you.

Hen and Stag Dos

Ah, the hen and stag dos. A chance for you to get together with your wildest – sorry, closest – friends and family, and let your hair down before you settle down to married bliss. And what fantastic options we have here in Perthshire for you! Here’s a selection of ideas:

  • Crieff Hydro – for adventure and / or a pampering package
  • Fonab Castle – for a luxury spa experience
  • Highland Safaris near Aberfeldy – travel by Land Rover through unrivalled Perthshire scenery for an unforgettable experience
  • Nae Limits at Ballinluig – thrills, spills or taking part in your own Highland Games…
  • Outdoor Explore – guided kayak tours for a chilled-out but fun-filled experience
  • Perthshire Paintball – for adrenaline-fuelled fun with your mates

Wedding Transport

Do you prefer vintage or modern? Luxury or quirky? These Perthshire wedding transport providers will ensure you arrive at your destination safely and – most importantly – on time!

  • Carriages of Scone – for the largest selection of luxury cars in the Perth area
  • Love Vintage Campers – because who wouldn’t want to hire a vintage Volkswagen Campervan (aka the coolest van ever made) for their wedding?
  • Balfour Hynd – for modern and vintage classic cars, including a Daimler and a 1930s Regent Landaulette.
  • A&BTaxis – offering Jaguar Sovereign cars as wedding vehicles, and a fleet of taxis and mini-coaches to help all your guests zoom from service to reception, or to get home safely.
  • Docherty’s Midland Coaches – a family-run coach business since 1947, with 20 luxury coaches at your disposal.

Honeymoon

To book your honeymoon, it couldn’t be simpler – pop down to the centre of Perth to visit one of our helpful travel agents:

  • First Choice, 61/63 High Street, Perth PH1 5TJ
  • Ramsay World Travel
  • Thomas Cook, 65 High Street, Perth PH1 5TJ
  • Thomson, 61/63 High Street, Perth PH1 5TJ
  • Visit Scotland iCentre, 45 High Street, Perth PH1 5TJ

..or stay in one of Perthshire’s most romantic hotels:

Get in touch

So, there you have it! We hope we’ve given you some fantastic ideas, and that we’ve helped you on the journey to the happiest day of your lives, right here in our beautiful county. If you’ve been inspired by what you’ve read, let us know – and do send us photos of your happy day. Cheers!

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The Storr Loch Monster is coming back to Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre Easter 2018

The Storr Loch Monster is coming back to Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre Easter 2018

The Storr Loch Monster is coming back to Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre next Easter 2018.

In 1966 Norrie Gillies was walking along the back in Skye when he made an amazing fossil discovery.  Both he and his son Allan are work for SSE and were determined the Storr Lochs Monster should be enjoyed by the public.

Allan Gillies tells the story of that rare fossil find and how 50 years later the monster is being brought to life

Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre

Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre

SSE’s Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre at Loch Faskally has been enjoyed by many thousands of visitors since it was built many years ago. But when it was decided that the old centre needed an upgrade, a bold and striking new design was commissioned. Now, a fascinating new visitor centre is throwing open its doors to the public, and the Perth City Centre team was invited to look around before the official opening on Monday 6th February.

As it’s only a 30-minute drive or train journey from Perth, it’s so easy to visit from the city. So we headed up the A9 on a bright February day to find out more.

A new outlook

Thanks to its cutting-edge cantilevered design by architect Craig Steven, the new centre appears to “float” over the loch, offering spectacular views of the dam, River Tummel and Loch Faskally.

It’s modern, with clean lines, and industrial touches on the ceiling and fittings, yet looks comfortably at home in the hills. It’s a perfect complement to the post-war turbines that it watches over.

What does the centre offer to visitors?

The centre showcases the incredible engineering feats of the hydro-electric projects of the 1950s that still power thousands of homes today. It explains how electricity is made, moved and managed in harmony with the environment to harness the power of nature.

Features of the centre

We found the Visitor Centre a fascinating place to visit. It’s bright, airy and welcoming, with many well-thought out features, including:

  • audio-visual displays about hydro schemes, fish ladders and SSE’s community projects
  • a film area taking you through the rich history of the dam, including stories of the Tunnel Tigers who blasted their way through the rock face;
  • interactive dynamos that demonstrate the power needed to provide electricity;
  • a model of a fish ladder that visitors can operate;
  • a 3D light-up map of the entire Tummel Valley Scheme;
  • displays of quirky vintage electrical items;
  • a bright, welcoming 60-seat café serving drinks and delicious locally sourced food;
  • an outdoor seated balcony offering dramatic views of Loch Faskally and the dam;
  • a gift shop selling local and Scottish products;
  • knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff on hand to tell you more about the centre, the dam and the local area;
  • free wifi;
  • free entry for all, seven days a week, from 9.30am – 5.30pm.

History of the dam

But how did it all start? Why is there a dam here in the first place and how did it come about?

We caught up with Ed Black, Media Manager at SSE, who told us: “The North of Scotland Hydro-Electricity Board (NOSHEB) built the dam and, in doing so, created Faskally Loch. The loch is fed by the River Garry, River Tummel and Clunie Power Station.”

The dam and hydro station are part of the Tummel Valley Scheme. Building of the scheme began in 1946 and it was opened by Lady McColl in 1951, wife of the late Sir Edward McColl, former Deputy Chairman and CEO of NOSHEB.

Hydro-electricity is produced using the power of running water to turn the turbines of generating sets in power stations. The technology dates back to the late 19th century when the first privately owned hydro-electric power stations were built to power the aluminium smelting industry and to provide local electricity supplies.

But it took the vision of one man, Tom Johnston, the Secretary of State for Scotland in Churchill’s wartime coalition government, to bring “power from the glens” for the benefit of all. At the time, it was estimated that just one farm in six, and one croft in a hundred, had electricity. Today, virtually every home in Scotland has mains electricity.

However, Pitlochry Dam, and many others like it, wouldn’t have been built at all without the Hydro Boys, a group of thousands of people who built dams and tunnels in Scotland’s hydro-electric power network. The highest paid of these were the Tunnel Tigers.

Who were the Tunnel Tigers?

The Tunnel Tigers were a group of men who blasted through solid rock to help create the hydro schemes in the 1950s. The group included native Scots, Irish, German, Polish and Czech workers. They earned their name because of their cavalier approach to safety in their quest to earn the huge bonuses that were available.

The men had to rely on explosives and basic hand tools to break through solid rock. But it didn’t stop the record-breaking Lednock Tunnel Tigers blasting their way through 557 feet (170 metres) of rock in one week in 1955 – equivalent to the height of Blackpool Tower!

Lisa Daniels, manager of the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre, adds: “The engineering feats are incredible and it will be a privilege to have some of the Tunnel Tigers here in person for our official opening – this place really is a testament to what they achieved.”

Read the story of a “Tunnel Tiger” from Donegal

What does the dam do for us today?

Pitlochry Dam is the last of the nine hydro stations in the Tummel Valley Scheme and is capable of generating up to 15 megawatts of electricity. That means it can power around 12,000 homes. Some of the water that passes through Pitlochry Dam may have already been used 5 times to make electricity during its course down the Tummel Valley.

Something fishy about this

Visitors (especially young ones!) are also fascinated by the dam’s fish ladder, which was the first of its kind to be built in Scotland.

When Pitlochry Dam was built, the Hydro-Electric Board had to ensure that the salmon already in the waterways could bypass the dam to continue their journey upstream.

At 310m long, the fish ladder is longer than six Olympic swimming pools, and the ladder has 34 chambers, each slightly higher than the last and linked by a tunnel for salmon to swim through.

Since 1952, some 250,000 salmon have crossed the ladder successfully.

Welcoming visitors

In its first year, the new Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre is expected to welcome 88,000 visitors who want to learn how hydro-electricity was brought to the Highlands.

Ed Black says, “We’ve had a very positive reaction to the new visitor centre so far. People who have seen the exhibitions tell us about relatives who have worked on the schemes and their memories of the days of the hydro-revolution. It’s a period of Scottish engineering history that people want to come and learn about. That’s why we built the visitor centre – we want future generations to learn about the great hydro schemes that came to the Highlands and still power homes today.”

Getting to the centre

The Visitor Centre is in Armoury Road, Pitlochry, PH16 5AP.

There is car parking available, or you can walk from the station in just a few minutes. You can find a map and directions on the Pitlochry Dam website.

Find out more

You can find out more at the Pitlochry Dam website or by calling 01796 484111.

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