Newest Review: ... over a third opf the town's population (double the Scottish average) and this demography and the fact the tourists are often older people g... more
The Town Without A Soul
Pitlochry in General
Member Name: wigglylittleworm
Pitlochry in General
Advantages: special events
Disadvantages: dull and snooty
Pitlochry is a small town in Highland Perthshire with a population of around 3000 people which has been popular with tourists since Victorian times with Queen Victoria herself visiting regularly. It lies at the geographical centre of Scotland and, unlike many towns in Highland Perthshire or the Highlands, has excellent transport links with easy access by car from the A9 and regular bus and train services.
I have visited Pitlochry many times over the years and still end up in town reasonably regularly but it is somewhere that I find depressing to visit. It is a town which is entirely dependent on tourism for its existence and it seems that the soul has been ripped out of the town. The cost of housing has soared as people have snapped up holiday homes and yet more homes have been bought by retirees so that they can live in a holiday destination all year long meaning that people local to the area find it impossible to get a foothold on the property market here and I think this lack of local spirit means the town has suffered. Retirees make up over a third opf the town's population (double the Scottish average) and this demography and the fact the tourists are often older people gives the town a very slow and sedate feel.
Pitlochry is an extremely attractive town with many of the buildings dating back to the Victorian era. The main street is lined with lovely old stone built buildings and it is possible to walk from one end of the town to the other in around half an hour. The town has stunning floral displays and regularly wins Britain in Bloom competitions for the well maintained environment and the light displays over the winter are always gorgeous. The surrounding countryside is also stunning, some of the nicest in Scotland. The train journey from Pitlochry to Inverness is especially spectacular and you can just sit back and enjoy the views including the famous Killiekrankie pass. The surrounding countryside is popular with walkers and the area around the river Tummel and Tummel bridge is an especially nice walk.
The high street is filled with shops and restaurants. The shops have the tourists in mind with overpriced brick a brack and woollen mill and outdoors shops. The restaurants are all slightly overpriced with a captive market from the tourists and I have detected a slightly snooty vibe from some of the eating establishments too. Visit the town centre outwith tourist season and you will find the shops closed up for the winter and the village looking like a ghost town.
What is there to do in Pitlochry? Very little on an average day. You can have a wander along to the dam where there is a salmon ladder to help the fish make their journey between river and loch Faskally. This is a nice enough way to spend a couple of hours and it is nice to see the fish leap between pools. A couple of whisky distilleries lie outside the town and you can go on tours which again will fill some time. Pitlochry theatre has a good range of plays and musical events but tickets are expensive starting from around £20 per person.
The one child friendly attraction in Pitlochry is the Children's Amusement Park. It is a centre which is primarily designed for the under 5s with small fairground rides, pedal boats on a tiny pond, crazy golf and an amusement arcade. The amusement arcade will provide limited entertainment for the older child with a dance mat and slot machines. The 2p machines are brilliant and seem to always pay out generously.
In the autumn Pitlochtry hosts a festival and at the centre of it is the Enchanted Forest which runs for 17 days in October. Faskally woods is transformed into a light and music show for the duration and buses shuttle visitors from the town to the event every half an hour. It is worth going to visit the Enchanted Forest but make sure you book in advance as tickets sell out quickly. The stalls and entertainment which operate for the duration of this event are lovely with lots of child friendly activities. Halloween itself sees a party in town which I have yet managed to visit but would like to do so in the future for the ghost walks. New Year is another good time to visit Pitlochry with a traditional Ceilidh raking place each year.
Pitlochry is not exactly my favourite place in Highland Perthshire as I find it dull and with a slightly snooty attitude and vibe. I would recommend basing yourself outwith Pitlochry and perhaps visiting for a day during one of the special events.
Summary: a tourist town