Friday, 2 October 2015

Wildlife Spotting and Camping in Perthshire

This weekend past, my boyfriend, Ryan, and I took a wild camping trip with Ryan's Dad up to a secret wee location in Perthshire.

Leaving on Friday evening started the trip off on a stressful tone, as we only ended up leaving Edinburgh around 19:20, due to work commitments and problems at a local petrol station. We eventually hit the road, just as it was getting dark, thinking we probably should have waited until the following morning to set off, given the stress and rush we were in. However, me being optimistic as always, just tried to remember that at least the roads would be quieter and we'd hopefully make it up there a little quicker.

*The stunning moonlight peeping through the cloudy sky

Following Ryan's Dad's directions (he was already up there, waiting on us), we took the two and a half hour journey, through the beauty that is the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. Believe it or not, I think this was actually my first time going through here - seriously! If I've ever been through it before, it must have been when I was very young. But it really is a stunning place to go, even just for a drive. I didn't get to enjoy this scenic drive due to the darkness, however it was something I was very much enjoying on the way back down on Sunday! The darkness does, however, give way to sights you'll rarely encounter in the light. The roads gradually became windier and smaller, and we eventually ended up on a single track road. It was very foggy, and I was very aware that it was the time of year when deer are very likely to be on the road. The first animal we encountered was a large hare, dazzled by the headlights. It hopped around in front of the car for a bit before disappearing into the grasses that surrounded us. Next, we encounter many a sheep! It was a slow drive, to ensure we didn't hit any of them - they enjoy jumping out on cars it seems. As we continued, we caught a brief sighting of a (very cute) fox cub, scurrying around the edge of the road. This was all very exciting to see in only the space of an hour, and definitely made the night drive worth it. But the next sighting was better than all. We came across around 100 - yes, 100 - red deer, grazing around the hills and all over the road in front of us. We slowed down, and were lucky enough to see some stags as well as doe! I grew up in a street that backed on to a field that was full of deer, and even then we didn't see them that often. It is so rare to see so many deer, all together, that close up. We enjoyed it as much a we could, driving slowly towards the campsite, like two excitable children.

Eventually we found Ryan's Dad, set up our tent and shared the stories of the wildlife encounters we had had along the way. The fire was raring already for us. As it was late, it was difficult to fully see what was around us, though the moon peeped through the clouds a few times, lighting up the valley, in a very eerie way. We could hear fish (brown trout and salmon) splashing in the water next to us, as we enjoyed a late night barbecue and a few beers.

*Amazing moonlight!

After a late night (a particularly late one for Ryan and his Dad!) we enjoyed a long lie, something that never normally happens at home, before cups of tea and sausages to start off the day (cough...afternoon). It was dry and generally pretty mild, though the breeze was a bit nippy at times. Up on the hills, on a fence post, a buzzard was perched, spotting for prey in the grass. There was a huge group herd of Highland cows not too far away from us, that became our pals for the next couple of days. They are such inquisitive animals who aren't really phased by people, including the young calves. The humongous bull leading the herd was a little scary though, who seemed to be leading the way right towards out camping area. He'd happily stamp you down, no problem, if you got on the wrong side of him. Thankfully, we scared him off a little and they made their way around us. A good walk was planned for the day, but we eventually decided to chill out and enjoy the peacefulness instead. We did go on a wander up the road a little, to see different views of the hills and surrounding rivers and burns. Along the way we spotted a beautiful dragonfly, buzzing around the burn, and even a breath-taking golden eagle. I have ALWAYS wanted to spot one, but never have, so this was a heart-warming moment for me. It wasn't around for long before disappearing into the skies, however that moment was everything to me!

 *Highland coos, including the large white bull

 *More Highland coos :)

*Our wee view over the small river. We camped right at a still pool in between the fast currents

Later in the day, we sat down for some dinner. Our camp stove, that we have only used once, was not working properly, so we were lucky Ryan's dad had his we could borrow for making tea. The broken stove went one length further and jammed the gas canister, causing it to leak gas without us being able to stop it. Swiftly kicked away from the fire, we had to let the gas canister run out before attempting to disengage it. Note to all: DO NOT buy a camping stove from ASDA! Invest in a decent one, as that scenario could have turned out a lot worse. A relaxing evening and early night, was the perfect round off to the day, though that night was a cold one!

On the Sunday, we packed up the camp-site, had some chocolate bars for breakfast (nothing like a healthy breakfast), and waved goodbye to the Highland cows before heading for Killin. This lovely village is just at the edge of Loch Tay, which we were lucky enough to have some stunning views over on the drive there. We stopped at a small cafe for tea and scones on the way, where fellow campers and walkers were all enjoying the last of the fresh air (and, surprisingly, sunshine!), and we spotted two buzzards playing chase in the sky above us. 

We stopped to take some photographs at the Bridge of Balgie, where the waterfalls give a perfect photo opportunity, and have planned our swimming spot for next summer! Next stop was the (supposedly haunted) Finlarig castle that holds some of the gruesome history of the Scottish clans. An old gentleman there introduced himself as a descendant of the Campbell clan that ran the castle, and shared some of the stories he knew. Moving on to Killin', we took some photographs at the popular Falls of Dochart, and took a wander to the Standing Stones, before heading home.

 *Quick couple of photos, before saying goodbye to the Highland cows 

*Beautiful views on our way home

*Bridge of Balgie

*Bridge of Balgie

*Bridge of Balgie

It was a very relaxing weekend away, with perfectly dry weather. Perthshire never fails as a place to go wild camping - full of beauty and many, many camping spots. We haven't been camping for two nights in a row for a while, so I am happy I took that opportunity, especially as it gets colder, and the camping options will decrease rapidly. I learned to never buy a cooker from ASDA, and was reminded that Scotland never fails to surprise me with its beauty and its wildlife. There's always somewhere new to explore!

Have you been camping in Perthshire? What do you think? Let me know in the comments!

*My bumble bee pal - suited for this log, he must have known!

*Finlarig castle - the ditch that can be seen just in front of the building ruins is the old beheading ditch

*The hanging tree...where people were hung by the Campbell clan 

 *Myself standing at the Falls of Dochart

*Falls of Dochart 

*The Standing Stones of Killin

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