The bus from Inverness to Pitlochry takes one through the picturesque Cairngorms National Park. There were mountains, valleys, and distilleries, the former two, all lush and green, the latter, all bright, gleaming white.
We chose Pitlochry as a destination because we heard it was a nice place to take a walk. Specifically it is well known for “hillwalking” which is a rough equivalent to hiking in American. Pitlochry is a Victorian town, a 150 year old tourist destination which gained its fame from Queen Victoria’s fondness for the area. Oh and there is whisky. So yeah pretty much the ideal “vacation” stop.
We hopped off the bus on a gloriously sunny afternoon, found our way to the B&B and deposited our bags. Eager to embrace our inner Hobbit we quickly got ready for our first walk. On the edge of town there is a short 3 or so mile trek through the local woodlands.
It meanders past old holloways and provides a nice little glimpse of the Black Spout falls.
Best of all the destination of this little walk is the Edradour Distillery. This is a feature that I think would improve even some of the best Cascade trails I’ve hiked.
We got to the distillery just in time for the last tour of the day and its complementary samples.
Edradour is a wee distillery, the (second) smallest in all of Scotland. And decidedly a little old fashioned.
Regardless of its size ranking it is a charming little distillery that puts out a fine dram. If one has only time to visit a couple distilleries in Scotland Edradour should be one of them.
After our little tour and a stop by the distillery store we looped back to town on a meandering path through the local farmland.
Back in the village we found our way to the local chippy and got some take away. After which we headed over to the river to eat our dinner al fresco and perhaps catch a glimpse of a salmon heading up the fish ladder.
The Next day the weather had returned to normal, it was grey and damp, and full of Scottish charm.
Not to be deterred we went down for a little breakfast, sausages, bacon, black pudding, white, pudding, egg, beans, fried tomatoes, tattie scones, toast, and tea. Just enough for a short hike.
After which we donned our rain jackets, grabbed a pack and headed over to the local supermarket to get some sandwiches for lunch.
Ok that is possibly something I should have taken a picture of. Every supermarket and the like had the most amazing wall of sandwiches in every imaginable flavor from egg and cress to cheese and onion. It is quite impressive.
After procuring provisions we headed up the hill to the much, much older village of Moulin and the trailhead to Ben Vrackie. The trailhead lies just beyond the prehistoric standing stone referred to as the Dane’s Stone. It is an ancient megalithic site disguised as a tall slender stone standing alone in a field.
The trail itself starts out meandering through some lovely beeches before popping out onto the moors.
Sort of vast and treeless, perhaps one has had to read a lot of Sherlock Holmes to appreciate it. I for one did. After rounding the bend and passing a small manmade loch the trail pitches steeply up towards the summit of Ben Vrackie.
So steeply in fact there is a long granite staircase of sorts. Perhaps breakfast was tad on the heavy side.
Upon the summit one is rewarded with what seemed like gail force winds and what I am told is an amazing view on a clear day. Actually, quite windy though it was, the view was quite lovely even with the fog and threatening rain. On the leeward side we found a nice place to picnic amongst the heather while we watched the sheep graze.
We made our way back off mountain and back to the village of Moulin where exists a very rare thing in Scotland. A craft brewery.
Much like the Edradaour distillery the Moulin Brewery is a very small affair. It supplies just a couple of local places with kegs.
Luckily one of those places is right across the lane at the Moulin Hotel. Not surprising since they are both under the same ownership.
A little damp and a little weary we found a quiet spot by the bar, settled in and quaffed a couple pints of Old Remedial to warm up.
Fully restored we headed back to Pitlochry, but not before swinging by to see the Black Castle of Moulin (Caisteal Dubh Maohlinn). Or rather the ruins of such. Built in 1320 on once was a crannog (island) in a since drained loch. Torched in 1512 during an outbreak of the plague it now surrounded by sheep instead of water.
Back in Pitlochry it was another trip to the chippy, a stop by the supermarket for some cheap cider, and a quiet evening in with the telly. Whilst we decided where to walk to the next day and to wonder does the sun ever set in Scotland in the summer.