A weekend at Loch Rannoch

To kick off my birthday week we headed over to Kinloch Rannoch for a few days amongst the lochs and hills of highland Perthshire. We were staying at the MacDonald Loch Rannoch Hotel, just outside the village and while the hotel was a little bit stuffy and dated it doesn’t matter when you have views like this from your bedroom window.

View of Schiehallion from out hotel room

It didn’t start there of course, the scenery was incredible all the way there from Banchory to Braemar then down the A93 past Glenshee and then across to Loch Tummel and beyond at Blairgowrie. We were really lucky with the weather which stayed clear for the whole drive and rewarded us with a truly spectacular vista at Queen’s View, Loch Tummel.
Queen's View, Loch Tummel

Before we got there I was really looking forward to the meals. I thought I’d do a blog post filled with pictures of the great food on offer in Perthshire that we stuffed ourselves with over the 3 nights. But in the end I didn’t take out my camera while we were eating, it just didn’t seem like it should be the main focus of the post at all. There was great food there, I had a superb braised lamb shank at the MacDonald hotel and some great pan fried lambs liver at the Dunalastair in Kinloch Rannoch. We also had a trip to Pitlochry and a fine lunch at the Old Mill Inn. I can definitely recommend all 3 should you be in the area.

The real star wasn’t the food, but the awesome surroundings. On Sunday we decided to go for a wee walk. We’d taken our walking gear with us but I’d hurt my knee a few weeks previously and I was still a bit wary of damaging it further, so that ruled out any big walks as tempting as Schiehallion was with the morning mist from the lochs rising up and flowing over it’s summit.

Schiehallion in morning mist

Instead we bought a little pocket walking guide from the village shop and headed up the crag, Craig Varr, which overlooks Kinloch Rannoch. The track was very wet, so it was a good thing we’d taken our walking boots but once we were above the tree line we were rewarded with fantastic views over the loch. My knee was holding up well so we pressed on up to the top where the stunning views continued. Not only across Loch Rannoch, but over Dunalastair Water and beyond to Loch Tummel. It was the perfect place to relax with a picnic lunch of filled rolls and some chocolate.

Loch Tummel and Dunalastair Water

Schiehallion from top of Craig Varr

Loch Rannoch

After lunch we headed back down as the weather was closing in and the temperature had started to drop. Unfortunately as soon as we started the descent my knee began complaining with that familiar pain that had started on a run a few weeks before. It made for a very uncomfortable walk back and put paid to any more walking plans we might have made that weekend.

Craig Varr from Kinloch Rannoch

The weather forecast for Monday wasn’t good, with rain forecast for the afternoon. Wanting to make the most of what dry weather we had, we decided to head out to Rannoch Station on the edge of Rannoch Moor. Parking at the station after driving down a tight, single track road past more large lochs, hydro dams and mountains we strolled down to the shore of Loch Laidon to admire the view and ended up having a beach holiday in November!

Rail bridge at Rannoch Station

Laidon beach resort

Loch Laidon

In the afternoon we had a trip over to Pitlochry for lunch and walked over to the dam. We’d missed the visitor’s centre by a couple of days (the season seems to finish at the end of October) but were still able to walk over the dam to get a good view of the building and once we got there we spent half an hour admiring the ingenuity of a local heron than was camped out on the first step of the salmon ladder waiting for a small fish to jump into it’s mouth. It’s patience was rewarded in the end and it got a fishy lunch with while we decided it was time to head back to the hotel as the rain had begun falling.
Pitlochry Hydro Dam

That was effectively the end of our weekend. As the rain fell we stayed confined in the hotel for a night of jenga, a few beers and Monday night football in the bar. With the excellent full cooked breakfast from the hotel (poached egg, stornaway black pudding, sausage and 2 rashers of bacon all cooked perfectly) filling my belly we set off for home and back up the A93 with a brief stop after Glenshee to take a final picture.

A93 at Glenshee

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