Friday 4th September 2015
After nearly a week of driving around Perthshire, Fife and The Scottish Borders we’ve finally found the one! So….fingers crossed all will go well and I’ll be blogging from Scotland by Christmas!
It’s been exhausting and stressful and we were desperately in need of a good walk by Friday. We started with a visit to the Lodge Forest Visitor Centre (scotland.forestry.gov.uk/forest-parks/queen-elizabeth-forest-park/the-lodge-forest-visitor-centre ) for an early lunch and then made our way along one of their clearly marked trails to the Red Squirrel Hide before driving the short distance to Loch Ard for a walk with views.
Enjoy! – especially the Red Squirrels – they are so adorable!
Waterfall Trail, Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and Loch Ard (6 miles)
We’re full of delicious beef burger and macaroni cheese (not together you understand – I had the burger – Mr RR had the pasta!) as we set off downhill following the waymarks through a mixture of ancient woodland and Norway spruce. There’s a sculpture trail along the way:
This display by Rob Mulholland is named “Vestige” and remembers the people and communities of crofters who once inhabited this space; it reflects the constantly changing light and movement of the forest – very clever.
High overhead a zip wire zooms more courageous persons than us across the tree tops and we stop briefly to watch – and listen to the screams!
We soon reach the waterfall tumbling down between trees and fernery:
and then turn to make our way to the hide. On the way we find a pair of hammocks and take a brief (and not very comfortable) break, looking up at the tall straight trees surrounding us:
Across a little footbridge and we’re at the Red Squirrel Hide.
Now……I haven’t seen a red squirrel in the wild before and I have to confess to becoming a little carried away with the photographs; they were just so charming:
and fast and fun! One pair chased each other round and round a tree trunk for several minutes. They just looked as if they were thoroughly enjoying themselves and didn’t have a care in the world – which I guess they don’t as they are very protected and constantly supplied with their favourite food:
Apparently, despite there being a fair few red squirrels for us to admire here in the forest, things are looking pretty dire for them generally in the UK. Due to competition, disease (squirrel pox spread by the grey squirrel) and habitat loss, if efforts to control the non-native grey squirrel are stopped, the red squirrel will very soon be extinct. There’s an excellent website called Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels at scottishsquirrels.org.uk with lots of information and news, research projects and squirrel sightings. Go and have a look and I promise you’ll be longing to see them for yourself in the wild.
Anyway – sorry – enough with the squirrels! The birds were also enjoying the free feast of course – this jay was one of a pair hovering in the background waiting their turn at the table:
We’ve spent loads of time watching the wildlife from this hide and we need to move on as we are keen to take a walk around Loch Ard where there are rumoured to be lovely views across one of the most picturesque Lochs in Scotland.
A short drive brings us to the picnic area which is our starting point and we make our way along the ‘blue’ trail between huge rocky outcrops and tree covered hills. Unfortunately as we get to the point where we’re supposed to turn up a steep hill to the viewpoint, a sign tells us that the route is closed due to track damage!
Disappointed but undaunted, we transfer our route to the ‘red’ trail which leads us around part of the Loch at a lower level. It is a beautiful place:
It looks grey here but it was very warm and we had to stop and remove layers on the way. Those grey clouds in the distance were useful though as I had instructions from eldest son to take some pictures of mountains and dark skies – so he could practice his painting! I’m reliably informed by youngest son that these are mere hills and certainly don’t qualify as mountains, but they look pretty high to me – so they’ll have to do!
There are few other people about on the trail, and we see little evidence of the local wildlife, but we really enjoy this peaceful ramble and are looking forward to lots more Scottish rambles soon!
Total miles walked this year: 553.5
Associated artwork for Ricketyrambler by Mr RR: