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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Commemorate the 150th anniversary of railway between Aviemore and Pitlochry

Blair Atholl's Railways Remembered!

highland-steam-train.jpgThe Atholl Country Life Museum is looking for relevant artefacts, photographs, documents or stories to be included in the exhibition for the period when the museum is open from Easter through to September 2013.

The Atholl Country Life Museum in Blair Atholl will stage an exhibition this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the railway between Aviemore and Pitlochry.

In the days of steam locomotives, Blair Atholl was an important staging post for trains which were topped up with coal and water in preparation for the long haul through the formidable Drumochter Pass.

Anyone with memorabilia which they would be willing to loan for this period should contact John Cameron (01796 481232) or Stewart MacGlashan (01796 483339).  pitlochry-steam-train.jpg

In addition, the Museum will host an illustrated talk "Blair Atholl's Railways" by Howard Geddes at 7.30 PM on 20 March in the Atholl Arms Hotel, Blair Atholl.

Enchanted Forest the autumn show

Tourism Chief Says Forest Event is Tree-Mendous Way to See Scotland

VisitScotland chairman, Mike Cantlay, has stated today that The Enchanted Forest, a Perthshire Big Tree Country event and Scotland's premier sound and light show, is a must see event for visitors to Scotland this Autumn, embodying the essence of the country's national tourism message: Surprise Yourself. Visit Scotland.

Visiting the event on its opening night with his family, Mike Cantlay saw the multi-coloured event unfold in all its glory. He commented: "The Enchanted Forest is a spectacular and incredibly popular event, which attracts tens of thousands of people to visit Perthshire each year, and I am confident it will be a box office ticket smash again this year.

My family and I had a wonderful time at the Enchanted Forest and it proves you don't have to travel very far to experience Scotland's vibrant culture, which is so evident in every corner of this country."

The Enchanted Forest now attracts visitors from all over the UK
and, indeed, the world and the positive impact on the local area is estimated to be well in excess of £1.5 million economic benefit every year.

With box office numbers soaring, the impact on the local economy is expected to increase and closer working relationships with key businesses this year are set to enhance the offering for visitors to the area this Autumn.

Enchanted Forest Autumn Light show in PitlochryA number of local tourism businesses are working collaboratively to promote the event, with local accommodation providers offering deals that include tickets to the event, and other visitor attractions offering discount entry for Enchanted Forest ticket holders.

Blair Castle on Atholl Estates is one of the businesses that is promoting discounted entry during the show. Mike Dukes, Head of Visitor Services at Atholl Estates explained why: "The Enchanted Forest is a firm favourite amongst families and creates a real buzz across the region as people flock from across the country to come and see the spectacular light displays. The fact that the exhibitions are refreshed each year also means that we see a flurry of new visitors through our doors when the event is on. It also provides a very welcome boost to businesses across the surrounding area and we're delighted to extend a warm Highland Perthshire welcome to The Enchanted Forest's customers."

Mike Cantlay, chairman of VisitScotland added: "The success of The Enchanted Forest has a knock-on positive effect on the local economy and I would encourage businesses, accommodation providers and the tourism sector to seize the opportunity this provides to showcase to visitors all that this fabulous area has to offer.

In this, The Year of Creative Scotland, we have the chance to spotlight, celebrate and promote Scotland's cultural and creative strengths, so let's embrace this and show what a warm welcome Scotland can offer each and every visitor!"

Organisers are encouraging members of the public to buy their tickets in advance to avoid disappointment with recent box office reports suggesting the event is on target to power past all previous box office records.

Following a successful opening weekend demand for tickets has surged indicating that the 2012 event is set to sell out.

Derek Allan, creative director of The Enchanted Forest 2012, commented: "Last year many people travelled significant distances to attend the event, all we're asking is that they plan ahead and book their tickets in advance. Tickets sell so quickly and many shows are already sold out with hardly any tickets left for the most popular Saturday nights - a little bit of advance planning can avoid disappointment on the night."

The 2012 show "FLOW" has been designed by a creative team led by Derek Allan which includes Scottish designers Simon Wilkinson (lighting) and RJ McConnell (sound), as well as Dundee based visual artists Dalziel + Scullion, whose work is supported thanks to the generosity of a grant from Creative Scotland in celebration of Year of Creative Scotland 2012.

The event runs from Friday 5th October - Saturday 27th October. For further information about the Enchanted Forest and to book tickets, visit the Enchanted Forest website at www.enchantedforest.org.uk

Sea Eagle Sightings in Perthshire

For the last 6 years sea eagle chicks, (collected from nest where there are two or more chicks in Norway), have been flown to Fife and released after seven weeks in captivity. This years chcks were release in the last few weeks.

buzzard-perthshire.jpgEach sea eagle chick in this project has a colour tag, the colour refects the year it was released. Each has a radio (VHF) transmitter with a battery life of five years. This allows the RSPB staff to track the eagles in Scotland this summer.

Interestingly if you look at their report (see link below) , there have been significant sightings in Perthshire. I was told verbally, here in Highland Perthshire that Loch Tay and Pitlochry have been hot spots.

Have you seen any of these young sea eagles in your travels in Perthshire?

Sea Eagle information, what to do if you see ione in Perthshire.

Young Sea Eagle being harrassed by a crow

This photo on the right is of a young sea eagle being harrased by a crow - Thanks to Karen Hartnell for sending us the image.  

To read the excellent East of Scotland Sea Eagle Summer 2012 newsletter, with maps and information on sightings and other interesting facts.

The leaflet "What to do if you spot a Sea Eagle" is well worth a read.

Also worth looking at is "How to tell the difference between a Buzzard, Golden Eagle and White-tailes Eagle or Sea Eagle" This information sheet provides pictures of the different birds, their open wing spans, so you know what to look out for when they are flying.

Finally an interview of You Tube with Meriem Kayoucheche of the RSPB advising how to spot White tailed eagels or Fish eagles. (4mins 28 secs). 

Final thought.

Sea Eagles are big for Tourism on the Isle of Mull, will the same happen in Highland Perthshire? I understand it takes five or six years before a yound eagle matures enough to breed. It would be great to have a nest here in Highland Perthshire.

If any spots a Sea Eagle in Highland Perthshire please let us know, better still get a photo and totally wishful thinking a sea eagle nest, we cxan all observe a long way off as on the Isle of Mull.

Young Sea Eagle in flight young-sea-eagle-flight0.JPG

Highland Cattle Drovers return to Blair Atholl

Highland Cattle Drovers return for the first time for over 100 years

Highland cattle drovers in period costumeA varied group of travellers recreate the journey of highland cattle drovers, via the ancient droving route through the Minigaig Pass, between Newtonmore and Blair Atholl.  They will be in Blair Atholl this Wednesday 4th July between 11am and 3pm and at Kirkmichael on Saturday 7th July. The droving journey is being organised by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society in partnership with the SpeyGrian Educational Trust, with support from Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust.

A diverse group of artists, writers, crofters, ecologists, historians, geographers and educators will be re-enacting the highland cattle drove, travelling up Glen Feshie to a height of over 900 metres over the Minigaig Pass to Blair Atholl, and finally following the Cateran Trail to Kirkmichael - the site of a famous drovers tryst, or market.

This group of drovers are the first to travel over the Minigaig Pass for over 100 years.  Cattle droving was once a vital part of Highland life, as highland soils are better suited to rearing cattle than crop growing.

Highland Cattle Drovers on You Tube

A short You Tube documentary (3mins 51secs) all about the first drovers for 100 years to walk from Speyside to Blair Atholl, organised by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and SpeyGrian Educational Trust.


Highland drovers traditional turf housesIn the days before refrigeration the best way to keep meat fresh was to keep it alive! Drovers would drive these cattle long distances on foot, to sell in towns and cities with larger populations e.g. Lowland Scotland, England and Europe. Unlike other Highlanders at that time, the drovers were allowed to wear the plaid and carry weapons to protect themselves from 'Caterans' or cattle thieves.

During the modern day journey, you can 'Meet the Drovers' in Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael.  On Wednesday the 4th of July the modern day drovers will call in at the Atholl Country Life Museum in Blair Atholl between 11am and 3pm, and the journey will come to its end in the Bannerfield in Kirkmichael on Saturday 7th July between 11am and 3pm.

At each of the events you will have the chance to meet the drovers & their ponies; discovering how they planned the route, their equipment and food and comparing this to drovers in the past.  A small but fascinating droving exhibition from the Dingwall Mart will be on display and Veritas Vincent, a historical re-inactment group, will be dressed as 18th century drovers to show weapons and clothing of the time.

 Drovers stories by Claire HewittStoryteller Claire Hewitt from Highland Perthshire will share local folk and fairy stories, human journeys of endurance facing supernatural forces, cow and horse tales - stories the Drovers would have heard and told to pass the evening round the fire.

At the Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael events, basket-maker Jane Wilkinson will also be demonstrating how panniers were made for the ponies and there will be opportunities for the public to try working with willow. Additional activities and demonstrations e.g. milking of cattle. Cattle will be taken on the first two days of the drove to Glenfeshie.

Everyone who takes part in the drove road journey will be invited to record their experiences in poems, writing, music, art, craft, and photography. This will be drawn together to form the Creative Journeys Exhibition which itself will go on a journey. Exhibition venues will include the communities of Newtonmore, Blair Atholl and Kirkmichael, and at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's Visitor Centre at the Fair Maid's House in Perth.

Cycle Fun Days Kick Start Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival

 DSCF5164.jpgCycle coaching, bike hire, mini bike tracks, skills loops, barbecues and other accessible cycling activities will be on offer at two family focused free Cycle Fun Days that will kick start this year's Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival this weekend (Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 June 2012).

Both events are aimed at encouraging locals and visitors of all ages and abilities to have a go at cycling whilst, at the same time, promoting the huge range of opportunities there are for on and off road cycling in Highland Perthshire.
Paul Bush OBE, Chief Operating Officer for EventScotland said: 'Opening the Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival with cycle fun days is a fantastic idea, which will give families the chance get on their bikes and get involved in a number of ways. Scotland is the perfect stage for events, and the 2012 festival will most certainly appeal to both novices and experienced riders alike with a strong programme of events, workshops and coaching sessions attracting visitors from the local community and further afield.'
On Saturday 5 May Progression Bikes will run the Dunkeld Cycle Fun Day, being staged opposite the Atholl Arms, Dunkeld from 11:00 to 16:00.  A range of cycle coaching and bike maintenance workshops will be mixed with have a go sessions on a new cycle course and pump track and a cycle obstacle course.  There will also be some great discounts on bike kit in the Progression Bikes shop on the day. There will also be a barbecue to refuel all of the hungry cyclists.
Emma Burtles from Highland Perthshire Cycling, organisers of the Highland Perthshire Cycling said:  'There has never been a better time to discover or perhaps re-discover cycling, whether for leisure or to get to the places you need to get to.   With so many benefits for the economy, health and environment we should all be doing it, a lot more.'
'The Cycle Fun Days that have been organised this weekend to get the Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival underway are the perfect opportunity for all of the family to get on a bike in a warm and friendly environment and, most importantly, discover how much fun you can have on a bike.'
DSCF5217.jpgThe Highland Safaris two-wheeled Cycle Fun Day is being staged in Dull, newly twinned with Boring in the USA, on Sunday 6 May from 10:00 until 17:00.  The highlights of this multi activity cycle day include an opportunity to try out a new range of Scott mountain bikes, a guided single track ride starting at 2500 feet, a time trials competition on a one kilometre skills loop, a selection of funny bikes to have a laugh on and bike maintenance from Dr Bike, just in case.  Cyclists can refuel with a barbecue whilst watching some awesome mountain bike footage on a giant screen.
Adam Flint, from Progression Bikes, said:  'Our cycle fun day and The Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival, as a whole, are fantastic examples of local businesses and communities in the area supporting the promotion of cycling in the area. With more and more cyclists coming to Highland Perthshire for events such as Etape Caledonia it's great to see everyone getting on board!'
This year's Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival has a diverse programme of (mainly) free road and mountain bike events, aimed at cyclists of all ages and abilities, that will be staged across the region from Friday 4th to Sunday 13th of May.  The busy roster of DSCF5180.jpgraces, guided rides (with local enthusiasts both on and off road), skills sessions, workshops, women's events, a schools programme, family fun days and cultural events all culminate in the legendary Etape Caledonia Sportive weekend. For accommodation availability. http://www.cyclehighlandperthshire.com and l;ook under accommodation.
For more information on Highland Perthshire Cycling and The Highland Perthshire Cycling Festival - visit: http://www.highlandperthshirecycling.co.uk/
You can find out more information on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Highland-Perthshire-Cycling/333320520038338 and Twitter: @HPCycling
For more information on Progression Bikes and Highland Safaris go to:

New Years Day Ceilidh Celebrations

Pitlochry New Year's Day Street Ceilidh - thanks to all who made it happen!

The Street Party Committee were delighted (not to say enormously relieved!) that the 2012 Pitlochry New Year's Day Street Ceilidh was such a resounding success. We are grateful to those who have written to say how much they enjoyed the event and appreciated the benefit to the community.

The Committee's thanks all those who were central to the show itself - Eddie Rose, Jack Delaney's band, The Vale of Atholl Pipe Band and Silly McBee (Martin Bingham the Clown!). In the production of the event, we are indebted to Martin and Janet Hobson who every year set up and monitor the sound system, and to Stephen Carruthers of AW Bell who always supervises setting up all the electrics. Enormous thanks are also due to the volunteers of Pitlochry in Bloom who served the mulled wine and popcorn and to Rory MacDonald of MacDonald Bros Butchers of Pitlochry and his team who again provided soup and pies.  Our grateful thanks also go to Stevensons of Avonbridge and their helpful driver Gordon Cruickshank who every year make available a huge curtain-sided trailer which is ideal for our stage.

new-year-street.jpg Every year local businesses generously chip in with prizes for the Raffle that effectively funds the event, and this year we thank Bells Blair Atholl Distillery, Pitlochry Co-op, Green Park Hotel, Scotland's Hotel, Pitlochry Hydro Hotel, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, The Old Mill Inn (who also allowed us to take a power lead from the Inn for the toilet unit) and Drinkmonger, Atholl Road.  Also each year we receive tremendous assistance (and forbearance!) from the management and staff at Fishers Hotel for which we are eternally grateful.

 Particular thanks go to the volunteers who turned up to help set up, steward, count cash, clear up afterwards etc. It's a long day for those involved and this help was very much appreciated.

 There are only six on the wee committee that arranges this event, and some of us have been doing it for years (one from the start in 2000!). We could do with more help and if anyone (particularly, perhaps, from the hospitality sector that benefits most from the event) is interested in helping to organise the Street Party, please contact Graham Holmes on 473153 (graham@holmeshome.plus.com).  We also need volunteers on the day to steward, sell tickets, count cash etc., and the same contact would welcome a call.

MacDonald Butchers of Pitlochry Best Sausauge Rolls Awards


Butchers, Bakers and Piemakers gathered at Carnegie College on Thursday 5th January to find out who were the prize winners when the lid was lifted on the best pastry products in the country.

MacDoanld Butchers of Pitlochry win Scottish Pie Awards 2012Rising to the top in two categories were MacDonald Brothers, Butchers in Pitlochry.  Not only did they receive the Diamond Award for the Best Hot Savoury Product for their tasty Venison, Port and Pickled Walnut Pie, but for the second year running they were judged to bake the Best Sausage Roll as well.

86 businesses from as far afield as Bolton and Invergordon entered products for evaluation at the judging held at Carnegie College in November.  A panel of 20 industry experts and interested foodies tackle the massive task of munching their way through over 400 savoury products.

You-Tube video of Pitlochry Butchers World Scottish ChampionsOn YOU TUBE World Scottish Sausage Roll Champions and Venison Pie Champions

Right to Left - David McReady (Chef) holding the Sausage Roll Diamond Award, Stewart Rutherford (makes the pastry and pie shells) holding the Venison, Port & Pickled Walnut Pie Diamond Award and Rory MacDonald (4th generation of the family in the business) holding the two Gold Awards.

MacDonald Butchers of Pitlochry took part and walked away with two of the top Diamond Awards.

WORLD CHAMPION   John G Renicks, Thornhill. 
01848-330243 Iain Renicks
GOLD MEDALS   MacDonald Bros, Pitlochry.

DIAMOND AWARD   MacDonald Bros Ltd, Pitlochry.

DIAMOND WINNER   MacDonald Bros, Pitlochry.        Venison, Port & Pickled Walnut Pie.
GOLD AWARDS   MacDonald Bros, Pitlochry.        Steak, Stout & Leek Pie.

For further details contact:- Alan Stuart of the Scotch Pie Club : 01333 439333.

Name : MacDonald Brothers
Contact : Mr Rory MacDonald
Address : 8 Bonnethill Road
Postcode : PH16 5BS

Tel : 01796 472047
Web : www.macdonald-bros.co.uk

New Year

 New year in Highland Perthshire is always a special time, with all the old traditions being followed by many local highland people, which includes making sure they are back in their own homes 'for the bells' that chime the end of the old year and in the new year.

 17-pitlochry-ceilidh2012cei.jpgThere are a number of New Year Ceilidhs (Scottish Highland Dances) through out the area, in local village halls, hotels and clubs. Killiecrankie village hall is one example where the local community gather bringing their own drink and nibbles to dance away the old year. It starts around 8pm each new year's eve (Hogmanay) with the families from 5 years old along to grannies and grand pas too, dancing the 'Gay Gordons', 'Strip the Willow', 'Military two Step' to name a few.  Roughly 15 minutes before 'the bells', the hall empties as the locals rush off home to see in the New Year in their own homes, which is important for the success of the next year to come. Fireworks are often let off after midnight in the first minutes of the New Year.

 6-pitlochry-ceilidh2012pipe.jpgNew Year's Day in Highland Perthshire sees the now established Pitlochry Street  Ceilidh or Party, where literally thousands of people gather from 1pm to 4pm on New Year's Day to dance to tunes played by Jack Delaney's Ceilidh Dance Band and compared by Eddie Rose. The event is free, including hot soup, sausage rolls, and mulled wine with donations funding the next year's event. 2012 New Year in Pitlochry on YOU TUBE also New Year Ceilidh photos on Flickr.

 The Auld New Year, is also celebrated, 'Auld' or 'Old' as it is to the old Gregorian calendar. The Atholl Country Life Museum in Blair Atholl organises the event during the second week of January each year in Blair Atholl village hall.

Local support needed for the Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest Looks to Local Business for Support

 The Enchanted Forest, the multi-award winning Perthshire Big Tree Country event, which this year attracted over 26,000 visitors to the Highland Perthshire area, is calling on the local business community to get behind it with a bold and unprecedented move to raise £40,000 of private funding from the businesses that the event directly benefits.

 In recent years The Enchanted Forest, which is set to return to nearby Faskally Wood for its 10th anniversary show in 2012, has successfully transitioned from being run by public sector agencies, to being run by a not for profit Community Interest Company.

 However with public funding hard to come by, and ever increasing costs of running the event, the Community Interest Company Directors are asking the hundreds of local businesses who directly benefit from the event to help provide the financial backing needed to ensure The Enchanted Forest's ongoing economic input to the area.

 Eddie Thomson, chair of the Highland Perthshire Area Community Interest Company commented

"This has been a tremendous year for the event, winning four major awards and attracting over 26,000 visitors to the area and we're really very keen for that success to continue into 2012. Over half of The Enchanted Forest customers stay overnight in the area and with increased numbers attending, the overall economic impact of the event is now estimated to be in the region of £1.5million benefit to the local economy."enchanted-forest-support2.jpg

 "In our most recent feedback survey we asked our customers to tell us which businesses they spent money with while in the area and well over 250 businesses were mentioned by name, ranging from restaurants to take aways, from hotels to retail shops. If each of those businesses were to pledge just £160 then we would have the necessary capital we need to continue to run the event. It's not much to ask when you consider the sheer extent of the economic impact of the event is almost 10,000 times that much per business - that's an exceptional return on investment."

 Businesses are being invited to attend an open meeting at Fishers Hotel, Pitlochry at 7pm on Tuesday 20th December, 2011 where there will be an open and public discussion around the future of The Enchanted Forest and how they can play an active role in ensuring its success continues.

 To register attendance at this meeting, contact Eddie Thomson, Chairman of the Highland Perthshire Area Community Interest Company by email on info@enchantedforest.org.uk 

 The Enchanted Forest was founded in 2003 and this year has acquired a string of accolades including the Event Management Grand Prix at the Scottish Event Awards, Best Cultural Event, Event of the Year at the Perthshire Chamber of Commerce Business Star Awards and the Community Award at the Perthshire Big Tree Country Awards.

Cycle Friendly Community Award

Highland Perthshire the Cycle Friendly Community.

Highland Perthshire received one of the top five awards at the annual Cycling Scotland Conference Awards in Glasgow as the 'Cycle Friendly Community' as a result of the work done by the Highland Perthshire Cycling group.

Cycling Scotland's Chairman Bill Wright said, "There is so much excellent cycling work now happening across Scotland, that we had 5 categories this year, attracting the highest number of entries to date. We are delighted to award the 'Cycle Friendly Community Award' to Highland Perthshire Cycling for all the work they have done in the last 12 months from their highly successful cycling festival through to local initiatives including the local schools and youth groups."Cyclefriendaward221111-300.jpg

Emma Burtles the Highland Perthshire Cycling Coordinator, who is based in Aberfeldy said, "I am absolutely delighted to receive this award on behalf of Highland Perthshire Cycling. We are a very new group only having been formed 2 years ago, we have come a very long way in a short time." She continued, "I would like to thank everyone who has put in lots of voluntary hours in making the many events that Highland Perthshire Cycling organise, happen."

The Cycling Scotland citation states; " The winning entry in the Cycle Friendly Communities Award had really embraced the concept, making it a stated aim of the project to create a cycle friendly community in their target area. Using a hugely successful cycling festival as the focal point, the scheme expanded with a range of projects including initiatives to take local schools through the Cycle Friendly School award. Operating youth clubs linking to Scottish Cycling's Go Ride programme, helping local businesses be more cycle friendly to attract more customers, developed disabled and special needs cycling events with adapted bikes, producing route cards and securing funding for forthcoming cycle signage."

 For more information on the Highland Perthshire Cycling or to pass on details, please contact Emma Burtles emma@highlandperthshirecyclingfestival.co.uk

Photo  - Bill Wright Chairman of Cycling Scotland, presenting Emma Burtles the Highland Perthshire Cycling Coordinator, with the Cycle Friendly Community Award at a ceremony in Glasgow.