It had almost been starting to get dark by the time we arrived at the hotel in Northumberland last night, so we hadn't really had much of a look around. When we woke up this morning, we found that it was in a really beautiful location.
There were great views out across the fields...
...and a pretty garden too.
I had a sleepy recollection of hearing a rooster at some point in the early morning, and sure enough there were chickens around the corner
Plus also some rather noisy black sheep.
It was definitely a place we could have stayed longer, but we're not staying anywhere very long on this trip and we had another long day of driving ahead of us today.
After a very filling breakfast in the hotel, we set off towards the Scottish border. In total we had 214 miles to travel, which we didn't want to do without a break, so we were planning to stop around halfway in Pitlochry. Rather than take any scenic diversions, we tried to follow the most direct route possible, driving along an A-road towards Edinburgh and then on a large bridge across the Firth of Forth. We were driving along the M90 motorway when I saw a sign towards a place called Dollar and remarked upon it to Tim, because it sounded kind of familiar. Perhaps a place where an Esperanto conference had been held in the past?
Before I knew what was happening, we were taking the motorway exit and abandoning our direct route in favour of a scenic detour via Dollar It turns out that Dollar was the home of the famous Esperanto poet William Auld, who was nominated for the Nobel prize for literature three times. He was buried in the churchyard of Dollar parish church, and Tim wanted to get a picture for a forthcoming Esperanto magazine.
It turns out Dollar is quite a pretty little place.
We parked by the river and then set off to find the church.
Luckily Tim knew approximately where in the churchyard the gravestone was, so we located it without too many difficulties, got the pictures we needed and were soon on our way again.
From Dollar the route to Pitlochry was much more scenic than if we had stuck to the motorway. At one point we even saw a red squirrel run across the road!
We arrived in Pitlochry some time after two and were pleasantly surprised to find that parking in the car park next to the tourist information office was free on Sundays.
We visited Pitlochry for the first time on our previous trip to Scotland and it was one of those places where we felt we would have liked to spend more time. We'd only paid for an hour of parking when we were here before, so after a pleasant walk around the nearby lake we then had a bit of a jog down the main street of the town to get back to the car before it expired.
Personally I thought the town was a pretty place to stroll through, although The Rough Guide to the Scottish Highlands & Islands, which I bought prior to this trip, says "there's little charm to be found on its main street, with crawling traffic and endless shops selling cut-price woollens and knobbly walking sticks to tourists". A bit harsh
We found a nice little pub to get a late lunch.
There was an actual mill wheel, which was rather impressive.
The food was good too, although the system of ordering was that you had a to scan a QR code to download a copy of the menu onto your phone. This worked fine for the main course, but then when we were asked whether we wanted desserts we made the error of asking the waitress what was available rather than downloading the menu again and checking the prices. I had a lemon tart, which was really nice, and Tim ordered a cheeseboard.
It was nicely presented, but he was less impressed when we checked the prices and realised it had cost £11.95. Oops
After lunch we went to walk around the lake again. First of all we had to cross the bridge over the river Tummel.
It was a sunnier day than when we last came to Pitlochry and the water looked beautiful.
From there it was only a short stroll to Loch Faskally.
This is an artificial lake which was created when the river was dammed to create hydroelectric power, but you wouldn't really know it from looking at it.
When we got to the far end of the lake and crossed the river on another bridge, we saw some people who looked like they were doing some rather scary paddle boarding in the water.
There were great views in both directions from the bridge.
Soon afterwards we came to a boating area of the lake, where we'd seen lots of ducks on our last visit. There weren't as many today, but we did see a few
From there it was a short walk along the road back into Pitlochry.
From Pitlochry we had around 90 miles still to drive to Culloden. The drive was very scenic one though, taking us through the Cairngorm national park. We resisted the temptation to stop and climb a hill in Aviemore this time around Tonight we're staying in the same apartment in Culloden which we stayed at last time; we enjoyed it so much when we were here before that we couldn't resist the temptation to book again. Tomorrow we will be on the move again, though - heading even further north towards Thurso!