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Treshnish Isles

Isles off Mull, Scotland

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For many seabird & wildlife enthusiasts, a day trip with Turus Mara a family business based on the Isle of Mull will provide observation and photo opportunities of a greater variety of feathered and woolly creatures than ever before. Puffins, Guillemots. Coffee and juice are available on board, and an electric toilet is provided in the forward compartment.

The Treshnish Isles are several small islands off the south west coast of Mull. The islands have been landmarks for travellers through the Hebrides for at least 1000 years. The names of some of the islands still reflect their importance to the Vikings who once ruled in the Hebrides. Medieval chapels and castles prove that although the islands are now uninhabited, humans were once permanently living on these remote and unsheltered islands. The islands, and Cairnburgh Castle in particular, had a strong strategic position well into the 1800s. The Isles possess unique landscape, rich wildlife communities and contain habitat, which is vital for several vulnerable species. The islands have international recognition of their heritage value.

Lunga has one of the most varied and accessible seabird colonies on the Western Seaboard. Dun Cruit (the Harp Rock stack), is home to more than 6,000 guillemot, razorbill, puffin, kittiwake, fulmar, shag, skua and many more. Puffins spend most of the year at sea and breed from April to July and leave again in early August. The puffins on Lunga are not afraid of people which gives ideal opportunities for photography. Lunga is also an important breeding ground for Grey Seals.

After Lunga the 'Hoy Lass' took us upwards to Staffa to see Fingal's cave some 20 m high and 75 m long formed in cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns. It has the acoustics of a cathedral and This cliff face is called the Colonnade or The Great Face and it was these cliffs and their caves that inspired Felix Mendelssohn's to compose Die Hebriden which was premiered in London in 1832.

Photos of the trip can be seen in the following video:

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Posted by drever 16:17 Archived in Scotland Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises children birds boats islands scotland history Comments (0)

Blair Drummond Safari Park

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My wife and I had rented a cottage in Callandar and from there we made the short drive to Blair Drummond Safari Park. It is a family visitor attraction located near Stirling which opened on 15 May 1970. It is home to over 350 animals, many of which roam freely or are kept in large enclosures in the 120-acre (49 ha) estate. The Park is open from mid-March until the end of October each year.

Visitors can drive through the reserves and see the animals roaming free. Included are African lions, Siberian tigers, American bison, ostriches, Southern white rhinoceros and fallow deer. There are also sea-lion shows, Bird of Prey displays and much more. A lot of these attractions are free and included in the admission price. In 2020, a dinosaur exhibit was opened. The dinosaurs were constructed with steel frame and silicone skin and make realistic movements and sounds.

The park has a large slide and playground including a pirate ship and adventure fort. Near the boat safari there are pedal boats and a flying fox. Other rides and attractions including dodgems, a kids' dragon rollercoaster, a bouncy castle, face painting and a carousel. There is a restaurant and several snack outlets, and picnic tables are available for visitors who bring their own food and drinks. Visitors can also bring their own BBQ food and the park will supply and light a Barbecue at no charge.

A video of my photos taken during a day trip is available below.

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Posted by drever 09:11 Archived in Scotland Tagged buildings children animals birds boats Comments (0)

Loch Doon a tourist hot spot

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Loch Doon is bit of a tourist hotspot. It is connected by a single-track well maintained winding road with passing places to the main highway near Dalmellington. The loch boasts a new Café, the Roundhouse Café. It is situated by the hydroelectric dam and is open all week. Ospreys are nesting across the loch from it. You can use a large scope at the cafe to watch the birds, or to view the Rhinns of Kells mountain range down the southeast side of the loch.

In front of the Roundhouse Cafe is a camping site, free of charge. There is also space for camper vans in this area. There are campsites like this along the 7 miles of the loch that are patrolled by a Ranger to make sure they remain tidy. The shingle beach at the Roundhouse Cafe is perfect for launching small boats or canoes. At present it is bring your own but there will ones for hire here soon. Along the loch there are spots for fishing. I used to bring my family here to hook a few.

The original loch had a lower water level but in 1935 a hydroelectric dam was constructed at its northern end to raise the water level. A ruined castle stands on its shores. This castle originally stood on an island in the loch but the raising of the water level would have led to it being partly submerged so it was transported to shore stone by stone and rebuilt exactly as it was but on the shore.

Visitors will wonder what the remains of strange structures along some parts of the banks of the loch are. They date from the first World War when an attempt was made to turn Loch Doon into an Air Force training school. Abortive attempts were made to drain the moss for a landing strip. Float planes used the loch as a landing strip though rocks were a problem. Thousands of prisoners of war were housed in a camp here. Nature has reclaimed most of the area, but a legacy has been good access to the loch for the public.

Posted by drever 20:14 Archived in Scotland Tagged lakes beaches animals birds boats scotland history Comments (0)

Strathblane Falconry and Mugdock Country Park

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My wife and I spent two nights in Strathblane, staying at the Kirkhouse Inn. Strathblane is an area only 30 minutes north of Glasgow. The transformation from city to country is however complete. It is an area of narrow roads, hills, lochs and tranquillity. The purpose of the visit was to use a taster session voucher my family had given for Strathblane Falconry, a bird of prey centre situated in the grounds of Strathblane Country House.

I was met there by Graham who runs the centre. His enthusiasm and love for his birds was evident. Unfortunately, my brain proved not up to the task of absorbing all the knowledge he imparted. We flew four birds, a falcon, a hawk, an eagle and an owl. I was warned not to try to stroke the birds for they don’t like it and apparently the only reason birds fly is for food. This experience was one that I had had at the back of my mind for a considerable time that I must do some day and I am certainly glad I have done it.

Afterwards we had a stroll through Mugdock Park. I had been there one before for the West Highland way, a 100 mile hike goes through there. I had done it quite a few years earlier. Mugdock is not the usual park. It has numerous paths and what must have been a main road through it, but the area has been allowed to return to its natural state. Quite a bit of history has passed through there with the ruined castles that reside there.

Posted by drever 11:32 Archived in Scotland Tagged buildings animals birds history Comments (0)

Dalgarven Mill countryside museum

A photo slideshow about Dalgarven Mill

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The mill is situated at Dalry Road, Kilwinning, Ayrshire in a secluded hollow just off the main Glasgow to Kilwinning Road, only 25 minutes’ walk from Kilwinning Town Centre. The monks at the Abbey there set up a mill on the site during the 14th century. The present mill was erected in 1642 and rebuilt in 1880 after being damaged by fire. The River Garnock waters powered the 6-metre diameter breast-shot wheel that droves the French burr millstones of the mill through cast iron gearing.

The present mill owner restored the mill from a ruinous state. All that existed when he began the task were the walls. It has been very much a labour of love for him motivated by the fact that both his grandfather and great grandfather were millers there. With on-going restoration, he hoped that demonstration milling will soon be possible.

He has converted the 5-storey grain store to house an extensive collection of Ayrshire farming and domestic memorabilia, reflecting the self-sufficiency of the pre-industrial rural community of Dalgarven. It allows the visitor to experience the sights and sounds of that bygone age

An ever-changing exhibition of local costumes, dating from Victorian times can be seen, including some exquisite examples of Ayrshire whitework. On the top floor, a new exhibit lets the visitor compare the 1880 lifestyles of the mill-owner and his worker, as you wander through their recreated house and cottage.

A nice walk exists from the mill through the unspoilt landscape formed by the gently flowing River Garnock. In spring, the wildflower meadow is at its best and in summer heron, swallows, kingfisher and other wildlife are there to be spotted. You can finish off your visit with a light lunch in the atmosphere of a farmhouse kitchen, or try some of their mouth-watering cakes, wholemeal scones, bread and rolls, freshly baked on the premises.

Posted by drever 15:35 Archived in Scotland Tagged buildings people scotland history Comments (0)

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