Pitlochry, in the heart of Highland Perthshire, is one of the best places from where to explore an abundance of Scottish wildlife. Right here in the garden of the Pine Trees Hotel, you have a good chance of spotting native red squirrels and occasionally a roe deer, which might have ventured down from the surrounding hills. If you go a little further afield, there are places from where you can take a wildlife “safari” and you might be lucky enough to spot mountain hare, blackcock, grouse or even roaring stags during the autumn rut (mating season).
This part of Scotland is also known as “Big Tree Country” for the very good reason that there are hundreds of acres of forests, a large proportion of which were planted more than 150 years ago by various Dukes of Atholl. These swathes of larch, spruce, Noble and Douglas Fir, and many other magnificent specimen trees, look beautiful at any time of year and are home to a plethora of wild plants, fungi, birds and small mammals. In Diana’s Grove at Blair Castle (a 20 minute drive to the north of Pitlochry) you will find Europe’s second tallest tree, a Grand Fir, standing near 63 metres high, whilst a short trip in the other direction to The Hermitage, near Dunkeld, will reveal one of the UK’s tallest trees – a magnificent 59 metre high Douglas Fir.
Highland Perthshire is one of the few places left in the UK where iconic birds of prey, such as the Golden Eagle and the Osprey can be found. Following extinction in Scotland by 1916, osprey were reintroduced and, at the Loch of the Lowes wildlife reserve near Dunkeld, have been breeding successfully since the late 1960s.
Apart from being the mainstay of the osprey’s diet, fish are another feature of Highland Perthshire’s plentiful wildlife, with salmon and trout being the most popular for the many fishermen (and women) who visit the area each year.