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Pitlochry as a base for 2 days?

We'll be in Scotland for probably 5 days in October. We visited Edinbrough on a prior visit. Our only imperative is to visit Menzies Castle; my wife is from the Menzies Clan.

Would Pitlochry be a good place to stay for a couple days, as a base for some short trips by car? I hated driving in Ireland, and probably will have the same reaction in Scotland. We may do some Rabbies tours out of Glasgow before heading to Menzies Castle.

After our last stop, we need to get to Middlesbrough in Yorkshire, probably by train.

Posted by
3279 posts

Hi Jerry-We biked in Ireland 3 years ago (not bad on a bike, but a little unnerving a few times when the road got narrow and the passing trucks got big), and will be driving for the first time in Scotland next month -- we'll see how that goes.

Would you be taking a train to Pitlochry, or are you resigned to driving, even though you don't sound like you'd be looking fondly toward it? By all accounts (in Rick's Scotland book and other guides, plus this Travel Forum), Pitlochry is a charming place with plenty to see and do.

Posted by
9110 posts

Pitlochry is a bout as good as you could pick in the area. It has a half-dozen fairly good places to eat including a couple of pubs and and a bit of walking space with a fair selection of shops. McKays has music some nights, The Old Smiddy has really good mussels, the Indian place sucks and is over-priced.

Driving in Scotland isn't like Ireland where you're following the same chain track as everybody else. There'll be some traffic on the A9 but nothing bad anywhere else. Besides the little run out to Weem Wood, you could head other way and go into the Cairngorms via the climb through Glenshee and might not see but a couple of cars from when you enter the park until you hit the crest.

There's enough stone circles in the area to keep you tromping around for a week.

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks to Ed and Cyn. I haven't yet decided whether to take the train or drive. I may just flip a coin. Pitlochry looks like a good place to stay, although it seems the Pitlochry Festival Theater will be dark during our stay. Because we need to visit Menzies Castle, which is nearby, I think a car will be best, with more flexibility. There is a good train connection, but I think getting to Menzies would be a bus ride. I wish there was a car rental in Pitlochry, but I haven't found one.

My sister-in-law was in the area last fall, driving. They nearly had a disaster with an oncoming tour bus. They ended up destroying a tire in a scrape with a wall. My problem is that I need to concentrate so completely on driving that I can do no sightseeing at all. My wife is an excellent navigator, and driver, but she is very reluctant to drive in the UK again. In 2010 we drove from London, to North Wales, then over to Whitby. We turned the car in a day early in York, after going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Anyway, thanks for the comments. I need to look at the maps, AGAIN. Argh.

Posted by
9110 posts

I've spent a lot of time in Pitlochry and the surrounds and have never noticed a car place. Maybe Perth?

Castle Menzies is out all by itself. I don't think there's a rail line to Aberfeldy, but it's about as good as Pitlochry judging by a couple of breakfast stops.

Posted by
5461 posts

Hey Jerry, I've taken over ten trips to Scotland. I've rented a car in over half those trips and and only had a few scraped tires from over-zealously obeying the left, left, left mantra. As someone else mentioned there are fewer people in Scotland than Ireland, because it's is more spread out. Also, you will be there in October when there are even fewer folks. I usually was driving in August and September. I think you will need a car to get to Menzies Castle. And you just rent it at the Edinburgh Airport. You can take either the tram or the bus from city centre back to the airport.

Pitlochry is a great base. There are lots of places to visit and it's easy to get to from Edinburgh. If you wanted to stay really close to Menzies Castle you also could stay in Aberfeldy. There is a lovely hotel, Ailean Chraggan that I stayed in a number of years ago. You can walk the to Menzies Castle from there. I really think that you're going to need a car if you want to explore the area. One of the loveliest Glen's in Scotland, is Glen Lyon. It's a beautiful drive. Also, the year I was in Aberfeldy, the festival was in September. Last year it was in November. You might want to ask when the 2014 festival will be. It looks like the Amber Festival will be the last week in October. I'd love to go to this festival! For this, I would base myself in Dunkeld.

Pam

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks Ed and Pamela. OK, OK, we'll get a car. I think I'll look into pick-up in Glasgow, drop-off Edinbrough. I need to check out the area to decide where to stay. And NUTS, the Amber Festival begins Oct. 24. I need to be in Marton, England that evening for the start of the annual meeting of the Captain Cook Society, of which I am the US Agent. That's really the reason for the trip; the rest is icing.

So, thank you all for the reassurance and good advice. Reading your other posts shows that you know your Scotland. I think staying around Pitlochry/Aberfeldy/Perth will work well for us.

Posted by
9110 posts

Psssst!

You weren't in favor of driving. Now you're going to get the car in Glasgow?????
Turnhouse is a heck of a lot easier and a tenth as much traffics heading to the Forth Bride and then up.

Posted by
5461 posts

I have to agree with Ed, that it will be easier to pick it up at the Edinburgh airport. Check out the two routes on via Michelin: Glasgow to Pitlochry and then Edinburgh to Pitlochry.

When you drive from Glasgow airport east to Perthshire, you're going to drive through a lot of urban area. Granted you are on an M road, but like any urban limited access road there are lots of entrances and exits. With the Edinburgh route, you not only avoid all that but you get to drive over the Firth of Forth--your passengers can enjoy it at the very least. :) It's also shorter. I've driven both places and I would do the Edinburgh option.

If you're wondering how to get from Glasgow City Centre to the Edinburgh Airport, there is a bus.

Pam

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks Pam and Ed.

My current plan is to see Glasgow, take a small bus tour from there north, and to Oban. Then, on the way OUT of Glasgow, get the car. Part of the logistic issue is finding a rental that will allow me to specify a car with automatic transmission, pick-up in Glasgow, drop-off at Perth. I thought stopping in the Stirling area en route to Pitlochry would work well. National Car Rental has good rates, and meets the specs. I have some neuro/ortho problems that make shlepping even rolling bags problematic, and buses are a concern. I don't even like train routes with changes. Five years ago, no problem; now ???

But, I will check out picking up the rental someplace other than Glasgow, and driving routes you suggest. Thanks for the tip on urban traffic.

Posted by
5461 posts

If you are going via Oban then that makes perfect sense. What is taking you to Oban?

Posted by
152 posts

I think a day trip with Rabbies or another tour operator, and back to Glasgow for the night.

After looking at your, and Ed's posts, I've got another idea. After our time in Glasgow, take the train to Perth, where there are rental cars. Then drive to Pitlochry, and do side trips to Stirling area, Menzies Castle, etc. Return the car to Perth, catch the train to Middlesbrough. Once there, I can get another rental car for our 2-3 local days.

All of a sudden, I realized that in late October, the weather will likely be cold, wet, and ? snow in the mountains. A number of attractions close after October. All the more reason to minimize driving.

Posted by
5461 posts

Look to see if anything is playing at the Festival Theatre in Pitlochry. It's a nice little theater.

Pam

Posted by
152 posts

Pam,
Thanks for the reminder. It looks like there is a performance on our tentative last night. Once I'm sure, I'll get tickets.
Any thoughts about my latest proposed itinerary?

Posted by
2022 posts

A nice day trip out of Pitlochry could include a visit to Blair Castle. Also, to the south, Dunkeld is worth a visit--a pretty town. We enjoyed going to the Hermitage for a hike and saw salmon swimming (jumping) upstream in the river along the hiking path. We had no problems driving in Scotland on two trips.

Posted by
9110 posts

There's a salmon ladder in Pitlochry - - on the western end of the dam - - maybe a ten-minute walk from the main intersection.

Posted by
152 posts

Thanks for your recommendations, folks. We will put them on pieces of paper, put them in a big jar, shake 'em up, then pick the winners. As usual, so many places, so little time...
Jerry