Nestling quietly down a back street in the small town of Blair Atholl in Perthshire there sits an interesting old stone building.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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):
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.
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:
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:
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.
Barriers down and lights flashing at Blair Atholl railway crossing.
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:
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.