Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pitlochry Part 2 - Killiecrankie Trail, Edradour Trail, and the Black Spout - Are we lost?

A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.
-Edward Abbey-

So how much more joy do we get for walking 12 miles?

After a big, lovely breakfast at the Buttonboss Lodge, Steve and I put on our hiking shoes and headed across the street to find a map at the visitor center. We ended up just looking at the one posted outside.

"The Killiecrankie Trail. That's the one we want."

"That says 9 miles!"

"Yeah, but online it said the Killiecrankie Visitor Center is only 3 miles from town. I want to see the Soldier's Leap! It's this short trail, I bet."

"Yeah, I guess," Steve says as he measures to scale with his fingers.

We headed out with a bottle of water each, mobiles, and a camera. We walked through the town center and up a hill to a pond where Steve saw swans for the first time (other than at the zoo). He said, "Wow! They are really big. Maybe we should not stand here. They are coming right for you!"
Indeed they were. I knew I should have grabbed some of those pancakes to go. They would have liked that. I bet I was a huge disappointment to their usual expectations. From there, we ended up walking by a golf course.

"This trail is weird. Now we are on a golf course. I hope this is right," I said as I hand Steve the camera to take a picture of what I imagine when I think of Scotland.

This part of the path winded past the golf course and through some sheep ranches. Steve and I got some great pictures of them, and we got to see our first real life sheep-herding dog doing his job!

From there we came to a steep ascent that took us through some conifers and to a logging road.
I love all of these rock walls in Scotland. They do not use any type of mortar. They just know exactly how to stack them!

"I need to stop for a minute. My sock is bothering me."
"Okay, no problem," I say as I start to take pictures. I turn around to see this. Notice.. the sock.
"Steve, why did you wear dress socks with your hiking boots? Did you forget to bring better socks?"

"I don't know. I wasn't thinking. These were the first ones I saw. I didn't think we would actually be hiking."

"But you knew we were walking at least 3 miles... even that would be difficult on flat ground with dress socks under hiking boots!"

"I don't know. I wasn't thinking."

We've all been there. That moment when you think, 'WHY did I do that?' Poor Steve. He had some terrible blisters by the time we were done with this walk. Usually, if I carry my backpack, I always have duct tape in it for that reason. Wish I would have had it then. After an hour and a half of walking, we found ourselves here:
Steve asked, "Are we going the right way? We've been walking for an hour and a half. It looks like we are just following some old logging road, not a walking trail."

"Well, a lot of these trails are like that. Remember Kirkhill Forest? It was partly on roads like this. Hey Steve, what type of rock is that?"

"Looks like some type of metamorphic rock... maybe sedimentary..."

Over two hours later we were still walking and hadn't seen any signs except the posts with arrows. Steve said, "If we aren't there by 12:30, we are turning around. It's going to take a while to get back." About 15 minutes later, we saw a sign!
Finally! I was beginning to become concerned. Now, Scotland is constantly surprising me, so the next turn shouldn't have really surprised me, but it did.

"Is that the trail???!" Steve asked. "Appears so," I replied. Then, I took a picture to prove it to everybody not present.
Yes... the path goes under a highway bridge. Mind your head.

About 20 minutes later and after going through a gate that led to the pavement alongside the road, we entered the parking lot for the Killiecrankie Visitor Center. What a walk! Great views. The Killiecrankie Visitor Center is worth a visit. There was lots of information about the wildlife in the area. Steve and I were looking at the poo exhibit to try to guess what animal it came from. HAHA. Apparently we recognized the poo of a fox from the trail. While we were there, I got a cute tea towel that has a map of the UK and Ireland on it. It says, "Home is Where the Heart Is" and has a little heart-shaped pin that you can move around the map.

Moving on. After a quick look around, we headed down to the Soldier's Leap.

It's tough to see but the gorge there is pretty wide. Just about 10 yards upstream, you can wade across in less than a foot of water. I asked Steve, "Why did he jump here? Why didn't he just walk up a few yards and walk across?"
Steve's feet were sore, and we wanted to make it to the Edradour Distillery before it closed, so we took the bus back to town. We got really lucky and wondered up there about 7 minutes before it was scheduled to stop. Otherwise we would have had to walk or wait another 3 hours for the next bus.
We made a quick stop for lunch and a stop at the lodge so that Steve could change socks. Then, we were on our way again.
We couldn't quite remember what the lodge owner told us since we'd already been walking all day, but we did see a sign that said, "Edradour Distillery" with an arrow so we decided that must be it. We walked up a big hill, around the town (seriously, we left the town. How do you think I got that picture of the sign?), and then started wondering after a couple of miles, 'Where are we?' We found a sign that said, "Black Spout" with an arrow.

"Hey, I remember him saying that we should go through the Black Spout Woods, but maybe we should stay on the road. My phone says it's only 20 more minutes to walk via the road."

"Yeah, but the guy said it's better to go this way, and I bet it will be a nicer walk," I plead.

Steve opened the gate and headed downhill through the sheep pasture. We kept laughing because we were just crossing through some person's sheep ranch. It felt more like trespassing than walking on designated trails.

"This trail is so weird." There was another sign at the bottom. Okay.. this way.

We passed behind the fences of several houses before finding another sign that led us down a trail between more pastures. We kept laughing at how odd it all was to follow paths all day through golf courses, logging roads, sheep pastures, behind peoples' homes, etc.,.. The walk was really beautiful though.
Yes, this is part of the trail.

We thought we'd never get to Edradour, but we finally found a sign that mentioned it. Of course, it was followed by a sign that didn't mention it. Stupid signs. Who set up this trail, anyway? The guy said it would only take us 20 minutes to get there. Clearly, we went the wrong way because we'd been walking for over an hour. Leave it to us.

This trail led around some agriculture fields and behind some other properties. I told Steve, "This has been a lot of walking today, but at least the views are nice!"

Our path ended at a "T" in the road. A road... with no sign.

"Well hell. Where do we go now?"

"GPS says this way. You are walking the right way, Kristal."


After almost 2 hours of walking, we saw people. We saw the sign. We got excited, and then we learned that the last tour was at 3:40 PM. It was 4:10. This sign was all we'd get to see today. I will leave out Steve's comments this time.
So we found a sign across the street that said "Pitlochry" on it. I guess that was the way we were supposed to have gone. Oops. We were excited to have found it though because that meant that we'd have a shorter walk back. I was very happy.
After a few minutes of walking, we agreed that the trip was not a waste because the views were amazing, especially the Black Spout, which we stumbled upon on our way back! However, I lost my hat.. that was sad.
Steve at the top of the falls
The Black Spout
Me at the Black Spout!

We were so tired that night, but since it was our last night, we decided to go to The Old Mill Inn after dinner to see Lewis Hamilton, a great blues singer!

Just for Fun:
I think this picture speaks for itself. You may need to click on it to make it bigger. There was a "Pinhead" statue inside. Steve said, "I don't think I would want to go there for my haircut."

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