photo of cottage courtesy of Alma Walker
I came across a website called Wilderness Cottages (https://www.wildernesscottages.co.uk) and found a nice little place called Oak Cottage nr Killin in Perthshire, the location was excellent and the photos looked really nice and it had all the facilities that you would need. One of the first reviews I read was from a couple who stayed there in June 2021, as soon as i read the bit about their late night visitor (The Pine Marten) I was sold. Neither of us had ever seen a Pine Marten in the wild and a holiday was booked. (17th to 24th Sept). The question was though, would I be lucky enough to see a Pine Marten? All will be revealed later in the blog.
The Owners of Oak Cottage Chris & Alma Walker have a Facebook page with photos of the cottage and some of the willdlife seen.
Everything was in place for a great holiday and hopefully some great wildlife but little did we know just how good it was going to be!
It was a long journey to Scotland so we decided to split the journey in 2 with an overnight part way on the Fri. We left our accommodation on Sat morning and were quite excited about what might be in store for us in the Scottish countryside. We had gone a little further when we came across Mainsgill Farmshop just off the A66 and thought we would stop and have a little look. As we turned into the car park we were greeted with the sight of a few Camels and a Llama in the adjacent field, so we had to go and say hello. The Farmshop itself was amazing with a huge array of produce, top quality meats, pies, chutneys & preserves along with Spirits, Wines and a large arrangement of gifts and of course a café. I would definitely recommend a visit here, as their website says It's more than just a farm shop!
Check out the following link:
photos of the camels and the farmshop
We were well into Scotland now and stopped for a short while to stretch our legs by the beautiful location of Loch Lubnaig. This would be one of many lochs we would encounter on our holiday. A stunning start to the week.
Check out the folowing links about Loch Lubnaig and the nearby town of Callandar which is (according to their website) the Gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park and the Scottish Highlands
We eventually arrived at the cottage, situated down a track away from the main road amongst stunning scenery. Oak Cottage was 1 of 4 nestled amongst the hills and trees with a path leading up to the door.
photo of cottage above courtesy of Alma Walker
We were hafway up the path when we were stopped dead in our tracks, a young male Red Deer was stood near the garden fence, we watched as it hopped over into the garden and started having a wander. WOW! what an amazing sight to greet us as we arrived, simply stunning. Luckily I had my phone for a few shots before I grabbed my proper camera.
I make no apologies for the numerous Red Deer photos/videos you might see during this blog. Just a stunning animal and at such close quarters too. Amazing.
Once I had my camera i was able to get some better photos. We watched as the Deer wandered around the garden and out across the path right in front of me.
Once we were unpacked and settled in the cottage we decided to go for an evening walk to stretch our legs after being in the car most of the day. a short (ish) walk from the cottage through some bracken across a hillside where we encountered the gorgeous Violet Ground Beetle. (Carabus problematicus)
For more info on the Violet Ground Beetle please follow this link: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/invertebrates/beetles/violet-ground-beetle
We carried on down onto an old railway line (more on that later in the blog), turned right along the track and towards the main road. When we got back to the cottage we saw a Grey Heron, a few birds still on the feeders such as Chaffinches and Coal Tits and we finished off the day by watching some Soprano Pipistrelles flying around the garden. (identified with a Bat Detector). We had only been in the cottage a matter of hours and already seen so much wildlife. What did Sunday have in store for us?
The owners have given great thought to maximise the wildlife that you might see in the garden. Bird feeders were all around and were quite busy on sunday morning. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and Siskin were on the feeders and a Buzzard flew over.
We thought we would stay local today and decided to go into the nearby town of Killin and explore. As you drive in, you go past the dramatic falls of Dochart at the western end of Loch Tay, a definite must stop and look around but be careful as you walk over the rocks. I would love to see these falls in the early spring as the winter rains and snow melt would make it a real spectacle. Check out this link for more info:
When we were walking through the town we wandered into the local Breadalbane park https://killin.info/guide/breadalbane-park/ , a huge grassy area often used for the local Highland Games and with a small community orchard with apple trees and a beautiful back drop of some rather large hills. It was one of these hills (bottom photo) that my wife thought would be a good idea to climb. I made my excuses (dodgy knees!) and stayed at the bottom while she made the long trek to the top accompanied by a visiting Canadian lady.
A good idea when attempting walks like this to do it in pairs, you can spur each other on when the going gets tough and of course if someone does fall or injure themselves there is someone to get help. Always take a Charged mobile phone with you. Nobody was injured in the climbing of this hill today.
The hill was called Sron a Chlachain and rose to an elevation of just over 400 m, the views from the top I am told are simply stunning with amazing views of Loch Tay and Killin itself. Judge for yourself from the following photos my wife took.
A slightly knackered Jelly legged hill walker on the final descent
Check out these links for more info on this hilly walking/running trail.
A return to the cottage after all this strenuous exercise and a well earned rest and a decent cuppa whilst watching the gorgeous Red Squirrel on the bird feeders,
That seems a suitable place to bring part one of my Scottish Wildlife Wonderland blog to a close. We've only been here 2 days and already seen and done so much.
Join me for part 2 (2 Dams, 1 ladder and a bar of chocolate) and see what else we got up to. Come and see what marvellous moths I found.