Just off the A9 about 10 miles north of Pitlochry are the Falls of Bruar. A path that follows the gorge runs up through the woodland from the lower bridge to the higher bridge. It is somewhere that we meant to go in 2017 then we had an aborted attempt during the 2018 Scottish adventure due to a very annoying migraine. So today was the day!
The House of Bruar
From the A9 you cannot miss the huge complex which is the House of Bruar. No it is not a stately home, castle or historic building of any kind, although it does have a small Clan Museum. The closest I can get to describe it is Harrods in a garden centre layout.
There is a large central glass atrium with what looks like separate shops going off in each direction. The atrium doubles as seating for the very popular restaurant/cafeteria and display area for their plants. The shops branching off are full of gifts, mainly Scottish made, and then another will be full of woolens, another full of outdoor gear, etc. The deli looks like a food court in Fortnum and Mason. It is all beautiful, but expensive but that doesn’t seem to hold back the shopping. For us it was a place to ooh and aah, park the car and head for the falls.
Falls of Bruar
The walk started just behind the complex along a woodland path. On a beautiful sunny day, why would you shop? Luckily for us, others were not of the same opinion. The path was spoilt by one man who looked like he needed to head back to the “facilities”.
The gorge is traversed by two bridges, the lower bridge and the upper one. The path to the lower bridge is well made and fairly even and the bridge looks down over a small waterfall and pool. I half expected Kevin Costner to come out of the trees, shed his Robin Hood leathers and take a dip. If only!
From here the path gets more uneven and steep but is not arduous, despite the signs.
With no significant rainfall for the previous 2 months the falls were somewhat depleted but the views were still lovely and the bridges gave a great viewing platform.
Dotted in the trees were the odd bench or two. Perching on one to take a drink briefly, the briefly turned into about 45 minutes. It was so beautiful and peaceful we didn’t want to leave.
But leave we did and we took a slow meander back down the gorge. As is quite common, we have found, Robbie Burns visited the Falls and wrote a poem. At the time there were few trees so the Duke of Atholl who owned the land took note and planted over 120,000 trees. Most were felled during WWII but there was no explanation as to why.
The Watermill, Blair Atholl
Our hosts, Tina and Norman, had recommended going to this working mill/eatery in Blair Atholl. It dates back to 1590 and was operational until 1929. It is one of only 7 working mills left in Scotland. Stoneground oatmeal and flours are milled and sold and used to produce the delicious cakes, breads and scones in their tea room. We both sampled the scones and they had so much more texture than other bakers. You can take a walk around the mill and read it’s history and some of the hardy people who have worked it over the years. They do have guided tours when the mill is operating but due to the lack of rain the creek, brook, burn (whatever you want to call it) was not running sufficiently high to turn the water wheel to power the mill. Who’d have thought?
Blair Atholl Jamborette
On taking a short drive through Blair Atholl we realised some sort of Scout Jamboree was taking place. We discovered that the Blair Atholl Patrol Jamorbette has taken place every two years since 1946 and around 1200 Scouts descend on Blair Atholl from all over the world. They all camp in the grounds of Blair Atholl Castle and the array of different scarves, kilts and nationalities we saw was impressive. The overseas visitors must have dreaded camping in Scotland with it’s somewhat unjustified reputation to be wet, wet and a bit more wet but it was a scorcher.
Bridge of Tilt
Such beautiful weather warranted another little walk so we headed up the River Garry towards the Bridge of Tilt. It was another lovely scenic walk, the first part being beside the large Blair Atholl Camp Site so there were a few children cooling themselves in the large rock pools along the river. It was a circular walk and we ended up soaking our feet and having another one of those “soak up the beauty” moments.
The Pizza Garden Company
Our hosts, Tina and Norman, had recently been for a pizza with a difference on a farm near Pitlochry and they very kindly treated us to an outing there. The creator of this venture is a guy called Alec who lives on a farm/small holding and has built a pizza oven out of up-cycled materials. The ingredients mainly come from his large vegetable garden and he does keep pigs and horses too. Don’t get alarmed though the horses are not on the menu!
His young daughter escorted us through to our table in a gorgeous yurt. It was a very unusual design and once again there was a lot of upcycled furniture. It looked incredible with solar lights, flowery canvas and even a sky light.
Bookings and orders are all done 24 hours in advance so he knows exactly who is coming and what he needs to source from his garden. There were large bowls of salad to help ourselves to while we waited and we were encouraged to explore the veggie garden. Drinks? I hear you ask. Iced water complete with fragrant petals is provided but if you want alcohol you bring your own and pay £5 a head corkage. The cooking time soon passed while we chatted to a family next to us with a little girl of around 3 years old. She kept running out to see the horses and the parents loved the fact that she could associate what she was eating with where it came from. Not easy nowadays.
Feeling somewhat stuffed, it was time to take the short drive home and reflect on not only the beauty and simplicity. The beauty of Scotland and the simplicity of pizza in a vegetable garden. Who needs shops and restaurants?