On Friday, it was supposed to rain. We were going to go shopping. I needed a replacement keychain – my “England” one from Heathrow had broken under the strain of daily use. I needed a hat (CF my post wherein I left my hat on the train on the way up). I was interested in a sweater of Scottish wool. We have various birthdays coming up that we need to provide for. We had even considered Pitlochry’s Children’s Adventure Playground figuring it would be more interesting than staying in the cottage — even in the rain.
We were quite surprised therefore, to be having breakfast in a shaft of sun piercing the cottage. Like Blair Castle, Carolyn had Dunkeld and Birnam on her wishlist. So, we girded ourselves for hiking throwing together snacks, jackets, gaiters, etc and headed out. First stop: Heathergems. It had been recommended to us by Nat & bk in particular, and we took care of much of our gift acquisition there. A stop at Moffat Wollens got me my keychain, but I declined the hat there, and couldn’t articulate the need for a sweater enough to justify the purchase to myself or my spouse. From there, on to the train station.
The ticket agent asked us how we’d liked our trip yesterday to Blair Atholl. Small town? We gushed over it, and got our tickets to the next stop South. Our Blair Atholl trip had been to the next stop North. Our tickets South were a little more expensive and the trip was one of 12 minutes on the train instead of just 10.
Upon arrival, we were in the midst of one of the “occasional” showers, but they all passed pretty quickly, including that one. We spent a little bit of time in the Beatrix Potter gardens there, accidentally started to go into a little Potter museum which would have cost us Â£1 ea had we decided to continue, and we asked after where to get hiking info. With only a little bit of bickering, we decided it must be time for lunch and just after the info center where we picked up the hiking map and some info, we went to “Spill the Beans CafÃ©” which was right next to “Going Potty” – a DIY pottery place.
The nice lady at the info center recommended a short out-and-back hike based on Sam’s age. I was sure we could do more and picked out a couple of loops for us to consider. We started out on the proposed route as the info center lady had sold us on Ossian’s cave and Ossian’s Hall. As we walked along, a UPS delivery van zipped past us. Right behind it, a FedEx van of the same dimension. A while later, we saw the UPS van ahead of us again heading across our path. Again, the next vehicle behind it was the FedEx van. In the meanwhile, it started to hail. Not huge hail, but certainly the largest and most memorable I’d been in for a while. As with the occasional showers, it had passed almost by the time I’d gotten my rain gear out of the backpack and on.
Sure enough, the hall was an impressive view of an impressive waterfall. The “cave,” a curious spectacle. The further walk wonderfully pleasant as we passed through woods and farmland. More than anything we’d done so far, this reminded me of our various Appalachian walks even to the point that I wanted to own some of the land for no purpose more than to own a piece of beauty and to preserve a place to walk in the future. For those familiar with the “Coco” idea, I even envisioned the compound being in (well, outside) Birnam and Dunkeld for the literary connection with Potter and Shakespeare.
Of all of our walks so far, this was the most populous. As we got farther into the walk, it thinned out such that in the middle bits, we again felt fairly alone. As we were following along the Braan river, we did see several rapids and waterfalls. We climbed through dell and forest and came across the remnants of a small community abandoned by the Industrial Revolution.
Back into Birnam, again with an hour before the next train. We decided again to wait to dine back in Pitlochry rather than rush through a meal at a place we’d not yet discovered. Instead, we found our way to the Birnam Oak. I took lots of pictures while Carolyn reveled in the history and connection to Shakespeare’s “Scottish Play”. Finally, we had seen a playground between the train station and the Oak and we gave our very tired daughter an opportunity to find her reserves of energy to clamber, slide and spin.
We made the train back to Pitlochry where I got a “true taste of Mexico” in the form of (actually quite good) fajitas from Victoria’s – where we’d had our first dinner in Pitlochry as well. Finally, back to the cottage to get ourselves packed up for our Saturday of train travel back to Brighton.
Sam recounted the following to me as her description of our hike:
We walked through a couple of small tree graveyards. We stopped for little treats, and snacks, and rests. And I pretended to be a silk, gauzy princess. We walked 5 or 6 miles. We watched some waterfalls. We found a little cave. We watched some people swimming [tubing -ED] in the waterfall on the way. There were a lot of rocks on the way. I was really tired a lot. We walked through a couple of forests. We saw some baby trees on the way. There were a little bit of uphills. It was really mossy and grassy. We followed the brown man for a little ways. [Trails were indicated by colored person-symbols pointing the way ED] . We took the train there and we explored through the Peter Rabbit garden. And we stopped at a playground. We stopped to look at big Birnam Oak tree. After the playground, we went to the train station and caught our train. That is all I can remember.
And really, that’s all of note I can remember at the moment as well.