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The hills of Pitlochry descend down a series of terraces into a forested vale. Orange balls of light, their posts lost in the fading day, seem to perch on the peaks of slate gray roofs. The clock stretches toward 11pm, and yet a soft dusky light fills the night sky above the ridgelines that border the town of Pitlochry. Such whisky-headed visions are a common product of the dram honor system in place at many of the B&Bs in town.
It was difficult to stop staring across this silent expanse; people had made inroads – a simple wooden table and chairs, a low stone wall, a cement walking path – but they looked like flourishes of respect for the region’s natural beauty. The town of Pitlochry is a tidy place with Victorian roots that receives both high praise as a tourist destination and derision because it’s a tourist destination. I had passed through on the train to Inverness nine years earlier and made a mental note to return.
Pitlochry is technically a Highland town, but it resides in the liminal terrain where the Highlands and the Lowlands meet. It’s a special blend of wooded vales and hills shot through with clear streams and some large rivers like the Tay. It’s also the last stop before entering the Cairngorm Mountains along the A9 north to Inverness. Dunkeld, one of my favorite places in all of Scotland, stands not far to the south, but I prefer Pitlochry as a base when exploring this region’s wealth of sites and activities.