Left Inverness and started heading south towards Edinburgh. It's a beautiful day, sun is shining and no rain in sight. It's only a 2 hour drive to our next destination but we will take all day to do as there will be much to see and do away from the main roads.
First stop is CarrBridge a little hamlet on the edge of the River Dulnain. This is where we find an amazing arched bridge known as Old Cart Horse Bridge built in 1717.
Onto Aviemore which is our breakfast stop this morning but alas somewhat underwhelming. The visitor information centre however proves to be quite valuable. We proceed into the Cairngorms National Park and more specifically Glenmore Forest Park. Beautiful scenery, rugged bare top granite mountains which in the winter would be covered in snow, crystal clear Lochs and forests.
We take a walk on the Ryvoan Trail to The Green Lochan. It's about a 30 minute walk on a well maintained path through the forest of Spruce and Silver Birch to this beautiful crystal clear lake. It's so pristine and perfect but icy cold.
The mountain range is home to a reindeer herd that was introduced back into the region in 1952. We visit the Reindeer centre to view the reindeer in the paddocks as our timing is not right to enable us to see them on the hill. The reindeer in the paddocks are there for visitors to see from Easter to New Year and are kept there for 2-3 weeks before being returned to the hills. There are 4 males in the paddocks when we arrive but the herders bring in another 2 while we are there. It's interesting to watch them push and shove to assert some authority within the group. Most interesting animals for sure.
We drive to the Coir Cas Car Park which is the base station for the funicular railway and in the winter it is the hub for the skiers . The view is spectacular across the valley but the midges make it less pleasant to be up there.
On the way back down the mountains we stop at the banks of Loch Morlich to take a photo of the loch with the reflection of the mountains. Just down the road a bit we encounter a red squirrel as it quickly crosses the road in front of us. Yay!
Rather than going back to the main road we follow an amazing series of narrow roads through the countryside. It's a mix of forest, farmland, rivers and bridges, absolutely stunning. Unexpectedly we come across Ruthven Barracks, a very well preserved ruin of a garrison barracks built by the Hanoverian Government between 1719and 1721 to police the area against the Jacobites. It is at this barracks the Charles Stuart tells his supporters that they should abandon his cause and seek safety for themselves after the failed Jacobite uprising.
It wouldn't be a day in Scotland without a Castle. Today it's Blair Castle which had 30 rooms open for visitors. The Dukes of Atholl are the custodians of this castle since the 1200s and the current 12th Duke of Atholl visits the castle once a year from his home in South Africa. The Castle collection of furniture and artifacts is once again sensational but unfortunately photos are not allowed inside. The gardens are beautiful and expansive. They have a family of red deer on the property including a very impressive stag.
Our last stop before Pitlochry is a walk to see Bruar Falls. It's a beautiful walk through the forest to a lovely old stone bridge across the Falls.
As we arrive in Pitlochry we are so captivated by the charm of this gorgeous little town, our accommodation is at the Old Mill and it's a beautiful old mill complete with water wheel. We go for a walk along the main street and because we are staying right in the middle of town we can relax and have a drink before dinner at the Old Mill restaurant.
Heading into Edinburgh tomorrow.
The Old Mill Inn, Mill Lane Pitlochry