Scottish Highlands tour (Part 4 of 4): Blair Atholl

This is the final post in a series of 4 which cover our Highland cycling tour in Scotland. This stretch takes us from Kinloch Rannoch back to Pitlochry, with a detour to Blair Atholl. You can read the first, second and third installment of this series if you have not already done so.

Following along the river – glimpses of the water through the trees

After our epic ride the day before, we had stayed overnight at a delightful B&B near Kinloch Rannoch. The final day of our tour started again in the rain. Then the clouds started to clear and by mid afternoon, the threatening skies were gone and the day was sunny and quite warm.

We spent a large part of the morning riding along the northern shores of Dunalastair Reservoir and Loch Tummel. The riding was fairly easy as we were tracking along edge of the water, and the road was relatively flat.

Loch Tummel in the sunshine

The old Tummel bridge (a new bridge now crosses the river parallel to the old one)

The views of the water were lovely, especially when the weather cleared up and the light was better. At the town of Dunalastair, the Reservoir narrows to a weir, then flows as a river for a while before widening again into Loch Tummel to the east.

A lovely old bridge spans the river near this point. It is no longer in use as it has been replaced, but made a good spot to get some photos.

The very old Tummel bridge frames a lovely view of the river before it widens into Loch Tummel

We got back to the main turnoff to Pitlochry about lunch time, but instead of turning south, we decided to go the other way, through Killiecrankie and on to to Blair Atholl. The plan was to visit Blair Castle and the beautiful walled garden in the castle grounds.

Blair Castle

Our ride out to the Castle was into a head wind, but since it was a nice afternoon, this was a plus rather than a minus. The breeze was lovely and was also good in that it thoroughly dried us, the bikes and all our gear as we rode along. The other good thing was that having a headwind as we went north, we got a lovely tail wind all the way back to Pitlochry!

Blair Castle and surrounds provided a lot of wonderful photo opportunities, but we decided to focus our attention specifically on the incredible Hercules Garden. This is a 9 acre (~4 hectare) walled garden in the Blair Castle estate. There is a large statue of Hercules overlooking the garden – hence the name. The garden has been restored to it’s former glory and is now quite magnificent, especially in summer and it is immaculately maintained.

The walled garden at the Castle

There are a number of special features in the garden. The most obvious of these is the 100 (or so) fruit trees on either side of the lake. A Chinese bridge is located at one end of the lakes/ponds. Other features include a folly and some thatched duck huts. A number of statues are placed around the garden as well. There is an air of peace and tranquility which invites the visitor to pause, reflect and relax.

The other end of the lake in the walled garden

We returned to Pitlochry to find we were a mere 2km short of 10 000km tally on our cycle tacho. This count included all the kilometres we had ridden since starting to ride some 18 months before! We could not just ignore this milestone, but also could not celebrate it until we reached the magic number! So we rode up and down the main street of Pitlochry until 10 000 registered on the clock 🙂

Ten thousand kilometres… well nearly!

We celebrated our achievement by going to a “Scottish night” put on by the locals for charity. It was an enormous amount of fun and a great way to conclude our Highland tour.

(Follow this link for details on the overall UK tour route).

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