Hamish on Tour – In Pitlochry
It was the start of my big adventure and my first season with SYHA Hostelling Scotland, I woke early and headed off to National Office with Wendy from Marketing. Today I would be meeting up with Aaron, the manager from Rowardennan Lodge, who I would be helping with a Rent-A-Hostel at Pitlochry this weekend. It was all very exciting as I was finally getting out into the network and starting my new career after much anticipation.
The drive to work was a little more complicated than previous days due to the snow falling all over the country. The roads around Stirling were filling with snow quickly making for a picturesque morning, well for those of us in the passenger seat not having to concentrate on driving through it all. We arrived at the Office just before nine and it was not long before Aaron arrived. Wendy, Aaron and I had a brief chat about my induction into hostel life and what I would be doing over the next few weeks and beyond.
We had to get moving to ensure we arrived in Pitlochry with plenty of time before our guests’ arrival; the forecast was for the snow to worsen throughout the day. I said my goodbye’s to Wendy for now as this was to be the beginning of my tour of duty around the network. I would spend the weekend and a week or so with Aaron and then I would be off to meet some more of our fun and friendly staff throughout the network.
The snow was still falling as we stepped out of the office; Aaron sat me in the front seat and helped me fasten my seatbelt for the journey north. From Stirling it would normally take around an hour to Pitlochry however with the snow and traffic on the roads we expected it to take us around 2 hours. I was glad to be seated in the passenger seat without the stresses of driving as the weather did deteriorate the further north we travelled. I enjoyed staring out the window as we crossed through the snow covered landscape.
We arrived at Pitlochry and met with Wilma the Manager of the Hostel who gave us a tour. We set to work straight away as the snow was fairly thick on the ground around here and we needed to get the driveway clear so that the guests could arrive safely. It took us a few hours working hard to get the driveway clear but it was very satisfying to see it completed and Aaron said we had done a great job. Wilma was certainly impressed!
It was not long after finishing clearing the driveway our guests for the weekend arrived and we welcomed them into the hostel. Our hard work was rewarded with the praise from the guests about the clear driveway considering the roads around town had more snow on them. They were also very pleased to find the hostel so warm and cosy for their arrival, indeed then hostel is very cosy especially at this time of year.
As they arrived one by one they regaled us of stories of their travels to get here, by the sounds of things we had arrived not long before the roads became much worse. They were lovely people from a Glasgow walking club staying with us for their annual Burns Night Celebration. Once they had all arrived and settled in they set to work on preparing their dinner which was to be a traditional Burns Night Supper of Haggis, Neeps and Tatties followed by a nice wee dram. It was an entertaining night with readings of poetry and a lovely meal. Aaron and I were even lucky enough to be offered a meal which was a lovely gesture and delicious.
It had been a long day and it wasn’t long before we both retired to bed for a well earned rest. The next morning I woke to the sounds of birds chirping outside my window, I stood to draw the curtains and was greeted by the heart warming sight of a winter wonderland. The sky was clear and a beautiful blue and all the houses around Pitlochry were covered in snow. The hostel here has a stunning location up on the hill overlooking the town with tremendous views of the hills around the area. It was hard to imagine how anyone could be upset by a snow covered landscape whilst staring out that window.
After a nice warm shower I got dressed and headed down stairs to reception to find Aaron and say good morning to our guests. Everyone had been expecting a day not unlike the previous so all were excited to find the world bathed in glorious sunshine. Our new friends would be heading out onto one of the nearby hills for a walk in the snow which I must admit made me a little jealous but I had to stay and help with a few tasks around the hostel.
As the guests were leaving we set about tidying a few things in the hostel before heading outside to ensure the driveway was still clear. The snow had fallen through much of the night and there was fresh snow that needed clearing again. We got to work but it wasn’t long before I decided to have a little bit of a play in the snow whilst I had the chance. I ran inside and picked up my snowboard as there was a very tempting slope at the front of the hostel with untouched snow all over it. I did sneak away to play but I am pretty sure that Aaron saw me and let me go anyway, It had been a few years since I had been out in the snow. After a few runs I was starting to feel the burn in my legs and decided with so much snow around it would be fun to build a snowman, Aaron came over after a while and gave me a hand as he had finished clearing the drive again.
We had had a fun morning playing out in the snow, well me playing and Aaron working, but we were both starting to feel the need for some lunch. Aaron asked if I could hold the fort for five minutes while he ran down to the local butcher to buy us a treat. He returned with some delicious local Scotch Pies, one of my favourites, and we sat down in the dining room and enjoyed.
It was a little later in the afternoon when our guests started to return from their day out. They had a lovely day up on the hill despite having to trudge through waist deep snow on a number of occasions. They were all very wet and tired and looking forward to a nice warm shower. Again they remarked how lovely it was to be welcomed into a nice warm house. I really enjoyed sitting and listening to their stories of the day, everyone had experienced it in a different way and it was funny to hear how people’s experiences differ.
The evening was nice and relaxed with all of the guests getting about and enjoying each other’s company. We headed off to bed at reasonable hour as we had a busy day ahead tomorrow. We awoke the following morning to find the world still covered in snow with little sign of it disappearing any time soon. The guests were keen to get moving early which was a benefit to Aaron and me as we had the whole hostel to clean today before we could head off ourselves. The guests all came and said goodbye and thanked us for an enjoyable weekend which was a lovely gesture and made us feel very good. Sometimes the simplest of praise can have the biggest impact.
Once everyone had departed we set about getting the house clean. It was a long and hard day for both of us but there was something strangely rewarding in cleaning the hostel. I helped by washing and folding the linen and taking it to the bedrooms whilst Aaron set about cleaning the kitchen, bathrooms and floors. Aaron was very pleased with my folding skills and said I was more than welcome to come and work with him again anytime. It took us all day but we finally had the hostel nice and clean which meant it was now time for us to depart.
I had really enjoyed my time at Pitlochry, it is a beautiful hostel in a stunning location and to top it off we had had some very lovely guests to keep us company over the weekend. However it was now time to head off as Aaron had to head back down to Rowardennan and I would be joining him there for a short while as well. Before leaving Pitlochry, Aaron took me on a short drive to see if we were lucky enough to catch the local distillery before it closed. Unfortunately we discovered it closes on Sundays in winter but looking around I am certainly planning another visit when it is open in the summer. I really like Pitlochry and look forward to seeing it in the summertime.
Stay tuned for my next instalment about my travels and experiences down in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park at the picturesque Rowardennan Lodge with my new friend Aaron.