Spent today at Loch of the Lowes and Dunkeld in Perthshire. It was a bit of a trek involving three buses, but worth the travelling time and changing of buses.
I travelled by Scottish Citylink, passing through the cities of Glasgow, Stirling Dunblane and Perth to arrive at Birnam, near Dunkeld. The bus does not stop at Dunkeld so Birnam was the nearest one. Fortunately, it was only about 1.5 miles from Dunkeld, so well within walking distance.
For those familiar with Shakespeare’s MacBeth this is the same Birnam as mentioned there.
“Macbeth shall never vanquish’d be until Great Birnam wood to high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him.”
It was a pleasant walk to Dunkeld and I stopped at the Co-op for some chocolate. When I came out of the shop I saw a sign for Dunkeld Cathedral, so stopped to have a look at it. It is still being used as a place of worship by the Church of Scotland.
Dunkeld was proclaimed the first eccelesiastical capital of Scotland by King Kenneth MacAlpin, Scotland’s first King.
After the Protestant Reformation in the 1500′s, the leader of the Reformation in Scotland, John Knox demanded that Dunkeld Cathedral be stripped of all ornamentation and statues relating to Catholicism. Unfortunately, the Cathedral was badly damaged in the process and was further destroyed at the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689.
Part of the Cathedral was rebuild and this is the part which is used for worship today.
Loch of the Lowes
After walking round the Cathedral I proceeded to find the footpath to the Scottish Wildlife Trust’s (SWT) Loch of the Lowes nature reserve. It is a 2.5 mile walk, mainly uphill but not too strenuous for a reasonably fit person. It took about 25 minutes to walk to the reserve as I kept stopping to admire the scenery.
The Reserve has an excellent visitor centre run by the SWT which has a good indoor viewing area and two hides over-looking the Loch. Refreshments are also sold at reasonable prices and many animal-themed goods such as soft toys, bird food and environmentally friendly cleaning materials.
At present, a pair of Ospreys have built a nest overlooking the Loch. The female bird is now in her 22nd year at the reserve which is pretty good considering Ospreys only live for 10-15 years.
While I was there, she was sitting on the nest while her partner was out catching fish for her. He flew back to the nest twice while I was there bringing her food.
There is also a webcam of the nest which allows people to keep updated on the progress of the birds. Pictures from the webcam can be seen here.
The Loch had some Mallards, Mute Swans, Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks and Reed Bunting.
I went back to the visitor centre to view the birds at the feeders and saw some Red Squirrels, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, male and female Pheasant, Mallards, Chaffinches and a Yellowhammer.
The Red Squirrel numbers are in serious decline and it is an endangered species in the UK. Grey Squirrels were introduced into the UK from America by the Victorians and carry a virus called squirrelpox which kills Red Squirrels, but leaves the grey ones unaffected.
The Red Squirrels were very entertaining and kept all the visitors amused. Similarly the Yellowhammer caused a great deal of excitement as most people had never see one before.
At 16.00 I made my way back to Birnam along the path I had taken earlier. It was a bit late to visit the Beatrix Potter Museum but I did get to see her gardens. Beatrix Potter, creator of Peter Rabbit, spent many holidays in Birnam as a child. It was in the Perth countryside she got to know nature which enabled her to write stories about it.
The bus arrived outside the Birnam Hotel on schedule to take me on the long journey home. Another enjoyable day.
Scottish Wildlife Trust: http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/
Loch of the Lowes: http://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/visit/loch-of-the-lowes/
Dunkeld Cathedral: http://www.dunkeldcathedral.org.uk/