Blair Atholl Watermill

Nestling quietly down a back street in the small town of Blair Atholl in Perthshire there sits an interesting old stone building.

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Blair Atholl Watermill: a building housing unexpected delights.

A watermill was first sited at this spot in the 1590s and more than 420 years later it’s being used for the same purpose -viz. the milling of cereals. The current building dates to around 1830:

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Blair Atholl Watermill: a robust construction looking tip-top at 180 years old.

Production stopped in the late 1920s, but after renovation work in the 1970s the mill was up and running again, and is now producing a range of flours and oatmeal, all stoneground in the traditional fashion.

Most wonderfully of all, Blair Atholl Watermill has a tearoom:

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The rustic interior of Blair Atholl Watermill’s tearoom, housed in what was once the kiln drying floor.

Yesterday afternoon I found myself there, along with various family members, for afternoon refreshments.

There were a number of tempting looking cakes on offer, and after some deliberation I dived headlong into a slice of chocolate cake:

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Chocolate cake with creamy looking icing.

I’m sometimes a bit wary of icing, since it can be very sweet and sickly, but to my utter delight, the icing on this cake was a sort of creamy fluffy chocolatey mousse, light and airy and almost like a pudding in itself.

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Two puddings rolled into one: cake with mousse on top.

Had I not gone for the chocolate cake, I would probably have plumped for a fruit scone, which was what my brother had:

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I have had a fruit scone here before, and what I particularly remember about it is the lustrous blackcurrant jam it came with.

Thankfully I have a visual record of it:

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Glossy blackcurrant jam glistening atop a fruit scone.

My mum had a slice of Victoria sponge, which appeared to have been made with some wholemeal flour or perhaps brown sugar, or both, and was devoid of decoration but pleasingly tall:

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Large and upright: a decent sized slice of Victoria sponge.

My dad chose the carrot cake which, like my chocolate cake, was topped with a creamy looking wodge of icing:

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Carrot cake topped with a thick layer of creamy icing.

My sister had a piece of tiffin (a chocolatey biscuity traybake) but I’m sorry to say the picture I took of it is rather out of focus. Instead, let me show you the magnificent latte with which I slooshed down my cake (the tiffin can be glimpsed peeking out in the background to the right, behind the latte):

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A fine latte filled beyond the brim.

One thing I like when it comes to a hot beverage is a decent full cup, and the Blair Atholl Watermill scored top marks in that department.

My latte had a noble bearing, knightly one might say. I imagined it having begun life on its knees, so to speak, when the coffee was put into the glass, and risen to stand proud when filled up with milk and capped with foam. The barista invested it with a flourish of chocolate sprinkles, the insignia of the Order of Coffee Toppings. I may be getting a bit carried away here, but it was a very fine beverage.

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Arise, Sir Latte.

Had the weather been different, it might have been nice to sit out in the tea garden, but alas it was a trifle dampish:

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The Tea Garden: a little too damp for al fresco dining.

A railway line runs through Blair Atholl, and to get to and from the Watermill you have to cross it. Although I always hope to see a train, I tend to be a bit nervous about driving across railway lines, in case there’s a fault with the lights and a train’s coming but you’re not alerted to the fact:

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Blair Atholl railway crossing.

Last time I was there, on the other side of the crossing, the lights came on and a train whizzed past.

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Barriers down and lights flashing at Blair Atholl railway crossing.

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A train whizzing through Blair Atholl, I was very glad the barriers had come down.

Yesterday, the nearby railway bridge was looking attractive with autumnal colours in the trees and mist rolling across the hillside:

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Autumn colours at Blair Atholl railway bridge.

If you’re thinking of visiting Blair Atholl this year, and hoping for tasty bites at the Watermill, you’ll need to be quick because it closes for the season at the end of this month.

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Categories: Architecture, Baking, Blair Atholl, Bread, Cake, Chocolate, Coffee, Photography, Scone, Scotland, Tearooms | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 44 Comments

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44 thoughts on “Blair Atholl Watermill

  1. What a lovely venue for a tearoom and I could just about do with one of those scones right now

    • You’re right, it’s a great venue for a tearoom, and even better when the tasty treats served up are made from grain milled on the premises.

  2. Ideal fall outing! The mill is beautiful and I’m impressed that it still functions as one – with the added bonus of having a good tea room!

    • I quite agree, Annie, it’s wonderful when old buildings survive and are still used for their original purpose. When they add in the delights of a good tea room, how can you resist?

  3. Oh how I wish I were planning a visit to this beautiful place! Thanks for sharing with us! :)

  4. I fully agree, it’s a wonderful place to visit. We had a tour in the mill and everything worked perfectly and the tearoom also sells lovely rolls and bread.

    • I’m so glad you had a good experience. I’ve never been on a tour although I’ve had a look round the mill. The bread is marvellous, isn’t it? I could live off their bagels.

  5. I remember being in Blair Atholl many, many years ago. Unfortunately before the mill was renovated- it looks beautiful :)

    • Parts of the town won’t have changed much I shouldn’t think, although there are a few new houses here and there. It’s so nice to see the mill being used for its original purpose again after years of neglect.

  6. Wow – all those treats look delicious! I was reassured about the chocolate cake because I’m not a fan of very sweet icing either. It looks so good! And you are right about the latte – worthy of a peerage at the very least! What an interesting old mill, and it’s wonderful to know that it’s still working, after so many centuries! This certainly looks like a tearoom worth making a detour to visit.

    • Thanks Jo, it is certainly worth a detour off the A9 if you’ve got a bit of time to spare. Blair Atholl is a surprisingly sleepy and relaxed little place considering it’s not far from such a major road and it has some lovely old buildings, including the mill. It’s lovely to see that continuity over centuries, as you so rightly say.

  7. How wonderful to turn an old watermill into a lovely tearoom!! I love it!! And then those cakes and scones….why can’t I just come over for a moment….arggg.. ;)

  8. So beautiful to see that glimpse of countryside in the far distance and with those beautiful autumn leaves no less. Gosh it’s certainly turned chilly (by the gauge of your pics) and I’ve no doubt that gloriously topped lattes & thick wedges of cake are the only remedy…for many!

  9. Well you’ve done it now and given away one of the best kept secrets – this place is one of the best stopping off places near the A9. The food is excellent; it is generally pretty quiet; reasonably priced and now everyone will be flocking there on your recommendation. Try the House of Bruar everyone – quiet near this establishment!

    • I’m gratified that you think enough people read my blog to make a difference to visitor numbers! It is a bit of a hidden gem, isn’t it? In the early days Bruar was very good for cakes but it’s become so unbelievably popular that they have to mass produce everything and I think the quality’s suffered. It’s very handy for a quick stop off, but quite a different experience from the delightfully rustic Watermill tearoom. I’m glad you’ve had such good experiences there.

  10. Cue sudden influx of everybody who reads this post and is within driving distance! :) I wish I was. It looks like a nice place to while away some time. I am the same about level crossings.

    • Level crossing, that was the phrase I was trying to get, I couldn’t remember what to call it, thank you. A visit to the Watermill tearoom makes for a memorable experience, it’s so characterful. I wonder if I can manage a return visit before they close for the year. I’m sorry you’re too far away to pop in there yourself but if I can drop in again soon I’ll raise my cup to you.

  11. What a great place! It’s a shame it will close for the winter, though. The autumn colours in your photo are beautiful.

    • It is a great shame that it closes for the winter, and that’s why it didn’t feature in my tearoom guidebook. I wanted to visit while I was writing the book but it didn’t open in time. I suppose it isn’t worth it for them to stay open in the colder months, they tend to get a fair bit of snow up that way. The autumn colours are a delight at the moment.

  12. So good to see an old mill being regenerated. I’m glad there are some people in the world that are prepared to give old things a new life.

    • I completely agree, it’s great to see traditions kept going like that. It must have been quite a bit of work to get it up and running after 50 years of being out of use, but they’ve made a lovely job of it and they deserve to do very well with their tearoom.

  13. Thank you for the vicarious treats and sumptuous photos.

  14. Beautiful pictures Lorna! It looks like a wonderful outing, not to mention those desserts look too delicious :-)

    • Thanks Aparna, it is a lovely place for an outing, the surrounding scenery is very attractive in addition to the delights served up at the Watermill tearoom.

  15. Fall is my favorite season, and your post hits the spot!

  16. This is just my kind of place; history, atmosphere and a good teashop. The latte looks amazing and truly deserves knighthood! I’m sure it was perfect with the chocolate cake.

  17. It’s wonderful that everyone had a different dessert so you could show all the delicious choices – well done!

    • Thank you, Meg. There is a bit of a tradition with my mum of wanting to taste everyone else’s desserts but I think in this case we all kept to our own. I was quite protective of my chocolate cake.

  18. The rustic interior looks great and that old bridge is super also – I really don’t know that part of Scotland particularly well, I shall have to address that next year.

    • Some time you’re on the A9 with a bit of time to spare I highly recommend taking a detour into Blair Atholl. I the area is particularly attractive at this time of year because of all the deciduous trees, but it’s lovely any time.

  19. I love it when tea rooms are housed in historical buildings. It makes everything taste better, somehow. Those desserts looked so good, but I agree with your choice of chocolate cake. Really, is there anything much better than just the right slice of chocolate cake? I’m also not a big fan of icing, but that looked so creamy and good. And the foam on that latte was nothing short of glorious. (Can you tell I’m craving chocolate cake and a latte now?) :0) xo

    • I completely agree with you, Lucinda, and passing up a chocolate cake is something I find quite difficult on occasions. In fact, I often don’t pass them up and when I was writing this post I felt desperately in need of coffee and chocolate cake.

  20. Oh how I do love your photographs. And now my stomach is growling again. But I especially loved the photos of the train crossing. It’s just so different than the one I cross every day in Olathe, KS. USA. More picturesque and homey, if that word applies to railroads.

    • Thank you very much, it’s terrible the effect photographs of food have when you don’t have the item right in front of you. Agonising, at times. I’m sure that ‘picturesque’ and ‘homey’ can be applied to railroads, and this one in Blair Atholl fits very neatly into the village so I know what you mean. Is yours out in the wide open?

  21. I do love your photographs too…am looking forward to catching up and being enticed by your lovely food photos too as I return from vacation. I do like the stools at the counter, very cute

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