The Pitlochry Historic Trail

Pitlochry's oldest building

Pitlochry Historic Trail short 2 mile walk back in time

How the Trail was formed - The trail was set up as part of the Pitlochry and District Tourism Management Programme with the assistance of Scottish Enterprise Tayside and the help of Sylvia Robertson and Colin Liddell in 1997. The full detailed Trail leaflet can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre in Atholl Road.

Short overview of Pitlochry Town Trail - The Historic Trail offers a short walk of just over 2 miles (3.2Km), 45 mins to 1.5hrs, exploring the Victorian resort of Pitlochry and the neighbouring hamlet of Moulin. Along the trail you will find a number of descriptive plaques which will provide you with detailed information at each location.

We start the trail at Sunnybrae Cottage, (Map Grid Ref A3) Pitlochry's oldest building dating back over 200 years to the days when Pitlochry consisted of three small hamlets. Once a public house and the site of a tragic accident which led to the death of John Stewart of Bonskeid. Now in the care of Historic Scotland, who have conducted a thorough archaeological investigation, to help them decide exactly the form the cottage will be presented to the public.

Archeologists have found 6 or 7 different thatches under the roof dating from different periods. The roof is a rare example of an old Highland cruck-framed roof with a hanging lumb in the kitchen area. It is anticipated that it will be another 2 years before it will be open to the public. Information is posted around the cottage so you can see what is going on.

Pitlochry's original Post Office was in the Lane opposite West Moulin Road where Wilsons of Pitlochry, the manufacturers of leather and horn goods is now situated. If you look carefully you will see in the wall the two posting slots visible in the wall between the shop and Atholl Road.

As you walk up West Moulin Road towards Moulin you will see Ben-y-Vrackie at 840m (2757ft) on the skyline dominating Pitlochry. Its name comes from the days the mountain side was covered in bolders of white quartz, hence the mountain was 'Ben Vrackie' in Gaelic 'speckled mountain'. If you should walk to the summit you will find one large boulder still remaining there beside the path. The quartz was removed during the 19th century for building. The mountain itself is the remains of an isolated volcano, its crater is approximately half a mile in diameter.

At the top of the trail you will enter the ancient hamlet of Moulin, arguably the most important settlement of the Upper Tay valley, for some 2,000 years, here long before the modern Pitlochry. Today Moulin is dominated by the Moulin Hotel, a former coaching inn established in the 1600s.

Moulin has the oldest Kirk in the area, it is unclear when exactly the first building was erected here. The present church dates from 1875. The churchyard contains two slabs from local tradition known as "Crusader Graves" as they have medieval swords carved on their surfaces.

In times past offenders who committed petty crimes where punished for their misdemeanours by being tethered to a tree known as the Joung Tree for all to see. You can read all about this and more from the plaque on the church gate.

Before you leave make sure you visit the small brewery behind the Hotel, which makes the local ale Braveheart; it can be sampled in the hotel.

The ruins of Black Castle can still be clearly seen in the field opposite the school, as you return down East Moulin Road to Pitlochry. The castle is believed to date back to the 1320s when Sir John Campbell built it surrounded by the water of a small lochan that also existed here until it was drained in 1720 for agricultural land. The castle was inhabited until 1500, the year of the great plague, allegedly brought here by a messenger who infected the occupants. It is said the castle was fired on by a cannon to form a funeral pyre for the victims.

In the garden of a private house in Tom-na-moan Road, on the left hand side can be seen the remains of an old Lime Kiln. In the 19th century it was discovered that using lime on the acid Highland agricultural land increased the yield by as much as three fold. Lime Kilns sprang up all over the Highlands, as local outcrops of lime were quarried and heated with coal and finally slaked with water to convert the lime into a powder for application to the land.

The rocks of lime and coal were poured in at the top in the ratio 5 parts lime to one of coal. The burnt lime was drawn from the flues at the bottom of the kiln with long handled shovels and put on carts for transport back to the fields.

Pitlochry owes much to Mr John Stewart, who had the vision and drive to start a small theatre here in the Perthshire hills. Initially starting as a tent within a tent at Lower Oakfield, moving to its present location in 1981. It is now known as Pitlochry Theatre has been an immense success and contributed hugely to Pitlochry's prosperity over the years. Unfortunately John Stewart was never to see the full success of what he had created, as he died suddenly in 1957, aged 55 leaving his house and the theatre to Pitlochry Festival Society Ltd.

Once you reach the junction of Bonnethill Road and Atholl Road, the main street in Pitlochry, look back up the hill and imagine what it must have looked like in years past. The metal railing seen in this sketch can still be clearly seen, with the Moulin Burn passing underneath it and the church in the background. The name of the street comes from the fact that in times past bonnet-makers lived in the small thatched cottages here.