Blair Castle at Blair Atholl in the extreme north of Perthshire is the ancestoral home of Clan Murray and the seat of The 12th Duke of Atholl. This category A listed building is situated in Glen Garry alongside the A9 road through the Central Highlands.
The Atholl Highlanders is a private infantry regiment in the employ of The Duke of Atholl based at Blair Castle. It is the only legal private army in Europe. It was formed in 1839 by the 6th Duke as a body guard and escorted Queen Victoria on her tour of Perthshire in 1844 when she stayed at the castle, following which the Queen granted the regiment with colours giving it official status. Although the regiment has never seen active service, many of its numbers served in the two World Wars.
The Atholl Highlanders are now purely ceremonial and its 100 men, including pipes and drums, wear the Clan Murray tartan. The regiment’s officers are usually lairds from the surrounding area whilst the other ranks are mainly employed on the Atholl Estate. They parade at the Atholl Gathering at the end of May when they are inspected by the present Duke; and also march to the Braemar Games in September. The Duke also permits the regiment to parade on certain other occasions such as Royal visits and overseas tours.
The little town of Pitlochry with its population of only some 2500 people lies alongside the A9 road just 26 miles north of Perth. The village came into its own in the 1840's when Queen Victoria visited the area and is now the largest town main tourist resort for the area.
It is said to be the exact centre of Scotland.
It is said to be the exact centre of Scotland.
The town really came into its own with the arrival of the
main line railway in 1863 and finally became a Burgh in 1947.
The town lies in a wooded setting on the River Tummel just below the point where the River Garry joins the Tummel. In 1951 a dam and power station were completed on the Tummel at Pitlochry flooding a large area up stream and the new reservoir became Loch Faskally.
Pitlochry Festival Theatre across the river at Port-na-craig was founded in 1951. Originally in a tent which was semi-permanent, it lasted for 30 years until the new theatre opened in 1981
Downstream the Tummel continues its journey southwards to join the River Tay at Ballinluig.
This fish ladder alongside the Power Station was constructed as a result of a 1943 Act of Parliament which laid a duty of care on the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to preserved fish stocks in waterway power schemes. The first of its kind in Scotland, the ladder consists of 34 separate pools, each rising 1.6 feet higher than the last over 339 yards to enable fish, especially migrating salmon, to reach the upper part of the river beyond the dam. A fish counter records the number of fish making the journey and they can be observed at a special glass walled viewing area.
some 10 miles through a lovely wooded area to Tummel Bridge.
A short drive along this winding road is a car park and visitor centre called Queen's View. This famous vantage point gives a wonderful panorama over the loch with views on a clear day to Schiehallion (3554ft). Unfortunately it wasn't a very clear day when I took this photograph and Shiehallion fades in to the mist.
Queen Victoria visited this view point in 1866 but is said that it was actually named after Queen Isobel, wife of Robert the Bruce.
At the western end, the loch rejoins the River Tummel at Tummel Bridge.
The old Tummel Bridge was built by General Wade in 1730 as part of his military road system.
The old bridge is unfit for modern traffic which now crosses the river
via a metal bridge alongside.
Heavy rain soon raises the river level.
This is part of 'The Road to the Isles' - "by Tummel and Loch Rannoch and Lochaber I will go", and the road ahead continues alongside Loch Rannoch to a dead end at Rannoch Station. However, the road which crosses the river climbs steeply over to Loch Tay at the eastern end of which starts the River Tay.
On the way to Aberfeldy we pass by the little village of Dull. Here the residents have made the most of this curiously named place by forming an alliance with Boring in Oregon, USA.
Photo courtesy Peter Mercator on Wikipedia.
A great curiosity of this are is at Fortingall in Tayside, where a yew tree in the churchyard is reputed to be some 2,000 years old – 0ne of the oldest living things in Europe. In 1769 it had a girth of 0ver 56ft.
This little village is said to have been the birth place of Pontius Pilate, although there is scant evidence to support this claim.
No visit to Scotland would be complete without a visit to a whisky distillery.
Founded in 1775, Glenturret Distillery at Crieff is Scotland's oldest
and the home of Famous Grouse.
After a tour of the distillery you will be offered a 'wee dram' but not from the huge bottle of Famous Grouse on display
According to the Guinness Book of records, this is the largest bottle of whisky.
The bottle is 5'5" tall and contains 228 litres (50.15gals) of Famous Grouse whisky. some 8000 drams.
The bottle was made by Czech manufacturer's Bomma at Svetla near Prague.
A fine bronze of Towser. a long haired tortoise shell female cat, can be seen at the distillery. Towser was the distillery cat for 24 years between 1963 and 1987 and lived in the still house where its job was to catch mice. Each morning the stillman would find that Towser had laid out an average of three mice each day for his inspection.
The Guinness Book of Records entry gives the figure of 28,899 mice which it is estimated that Towser caught in those 24 years.
Towser's ladder and entrance to the still house is still used by successors.
A very peaceful place - as the notice says -
'Quiet please, whisky sleeping.'
This lovely Turret Water flows through the grounds and provides the special kind of water required in the whisky distilling process.
A pre reformation church at Innerpeffray near Crieff dates back to 1365.
It has long been the burial place for the family of Lord Drummond of Innerpeffray Castle.
Further south a fine stone bridge built by Thomas Telford in 1809 crosses the Tay to the ancient little Cathedral city of Dunkeld.
One of the land arches of the bridge was formerly used as
the town prison lock-up.
On the site of the traditional cross in the market place, a neo-Gothic Fountain was built in 1866 as a memorial to the 6th Duke of Atholl
The Scottish ‘ell’ was a measurement equivelent to 37 inches. It was very important in the Scottish market place that this measurement was strictly adhered to and officials made every endeavour to ensure that it was. On the wall of the Ell House in Dunkeld market place is a metal ell measure which was used to check that any measure used in the market place was accurate.
The ancient cathedral dates 12th-15th centuries but was destroyed in 1560 and much of the building is roofless. However, the 14th century choir, now used as the Parish Church was restored in 1815 and 1908.
In the choir is the tomb of the Wolf of Badenoch who destroyed Elgin Cathedral.
The adjoining Chapter House and sacristy was used as a burial aisle by the Earls, Marquises and Dukes of Atholl with elaborate monuments.
The 4th Duke of Atholl (1755-1830)
Poised above the River Tay north of Perth, the present Scone Palace was built between 1808 and 1812 in the late Georgian Gothic style for the Earls of Mansfield. It replaced a 16th century palace on the site of the former Scone Abbey. Scone was an ancient gathering place of the Picts and the place of coronation of Kings of Scots, including Macbeth and Robert the Bruce.