Day 36, 22nd June 2011, Blair Atholl to Perth

The last 10Km into Blair Atholl yesterday was completed at a pretty fair pace and we were soaking wet and chilled.  We were still riding slightly downhill from the high pass, there was little or no wind and the road was good.  I started thinking, as you do, about what I wanted to see.  I wanted to roll into Blair Atholl, and see a nice substantial old pub sitting but the road side with it’s “accommodation available” sign sitting outside.  While I knew without a shadow of doubt that we would have no trouble finding a bed, I didn’t want to see a sign that said something like: “Hotel 4 miles up this very steep hill”.

And there it was, the Atholl Arms, exactly where I wanted it, and as I had pictured it, a nice big solid stone pub, advertising rooms and food, sitting by the side of the road as we rolled in, and were in a hot shower in 10 minutes.  Perfect.

Even better, it only had 3 stars.  If it had 4 stars, we would have had to pay an extra 20 pounds, and all we would have got is a flunkey.  If I needed any flunking, that would be good, but I have never found the need. Yet.

Today was a pretty relaxed day as we did tourist things and got a little TLC for Roz’ bike. We started with a two-hour session at Blair Atholl castle, described in the Lonely Planet as a mausoleum for deer. 

There must be thousands of stag heads mounted on the walls of the corridors and many of the rooms. All labelled with date of death and age or weight, eg 1850 13yrs.  The castle is set in beautiful grounds and houses a great deal of fascinating memorabilia.  The castle itself is an also-ran amongst castles.

We followed the national bike route as this kept us clear of the A9, which our map indicated almost every road eventually joined.  This worked well.  The route followed minor roads and forest tracks that ran around the rim of the Tay River valley through picturesque country and pretty villages, dipping into thickly wooded valleys and rising onto low farmed ridges. 

The difference between the built environment here and on the west coast of Scotland is striking. There are some stunning houses and gardens scattered through the countryside here, while almost any building in the west seems minimalist and with only a tenuous connection to its environment.  Perthshire must be the most attractive party of the country we have seen so far.

So we only rode 75km today.

We have been talking about the bits of the north here and in Norway, and parts of France and Switzerland that we have not ridden, and decided that some of these areas may be better suited to motorcycle touring rather than the sort of bicycle touring we want to do.  We just have to work out how to do that.

So we rode into Perth and found the street with the B&Bs.  It took a while, but it seems that most Scottish towns have such a street and it is sometimes not immediately obvious.  There must be a dozen immediately around us.  We wandered down to Tesco, bought some bread, cheese and the like and settled in at our B&B.

It was supposed to rain today but didn’t.  We got lucky, again.

You may need to zoom out and then pan the map to make it work correctly.

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