Scottish Hydro Electric Visitor Centre, Dam and Fish Pass
The scenic town of Pitlochry in Perth and Kinross is best known as the home of the Hydro-Electric Power Station, Dam and Salmon Ladder at the Pitlochry Power Station.
Now housing the Scottish Hydro Electric Visitor Centre, it offers an informative and educational day out for visitors of all ages. The Visitor Centre attracts over 500,000 visitors every year and is one of Scotland’s most popular attractions.
Refurbished as part of the huge Tummel-Garry Hydro Electricity Scheme project in 2005, the Visitor Centre has a superb viewing gallery above the turbine hall for visitors to get a great view of this massive power station as it generates power for the whole area of North Scotland.
Learn how hydro-electricity works by reading the information boards and exhibits. There are also three-dimensional models explaining how the power station was constructed and how it operates.
The Pitlochry Power Station and Dam has two automatic drum gates to control the flow of water, allowing very little change in reservoir levels no matter how swollen or dry the feeder rivers become.
The original Pitlochry Power Station was built as the first stage of the larger Tummel-Garry Hydro Electric Scheme. By the end of 1950 it had two 7,500kW sets in operation.
In 1965, long before renewable energy was fashionable, there were 54 power stations across Scotland, fed by 56 dams and connected by 372 miles of pipelines, aqueducts and tunnels.
Building such a huge project inevitably brought many social changes to the area. The Visitor Centre pays tribute to the struggles and hardships of “The Hydro Boys”; the men who worked to complete these massive installations.
The Visitor Centre also has exhibits and storyboards explaining about the adjoining Fish Ladder which is part of the Pitlochry Power Station.
Pitlochry Fish Ladder
You might be wondering why there is a natural history attraction at such a high-tech installation as the Pitlochry Hydro Electric Power Station.
However, the two are closely interconnected. The salmon always travel from the sea, back to their own birthplace in the Highland rivers to spawn, a journey of around 6000 miles.
When huge dams were built, the salmons’ route would have been barred by the huge concrete walls, so “fish ladders” were built to bypass the dam and help the fish swim to and from the sea.
The Pitlochry Fish Ladder has an observation chamber where visitors can see the salmon heading upstream. Although traditional fish ladders require the salmon to jump up an exhausting series of steps, the fish ladder at Pitlochry is designed differently.
Through the glass viewing windows, you can see the salmon progressing up a series of chambers to reach the top of the dam.
Watching these large fish find their way through the 34 chambers and along 310 metres of interconnecting pipes is fascinating.
Approximately five thousand salmon climb the fish ladder each year as part of their journey back to their spawning grounds.
Once they reach Loch Faskally they continue on their exhausting journey upstream.
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Scottish Hydro Electric Visitor Centre, Dam and Fish Pass Postcode for SatNav: PH16 5ND