Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Crombie Park

8 September

Went to Carnoustie for the weekend and paid 3 visits to Crombie Country Park over the weekend.  On the Saturday we went early morning and again in the evening and enjoyed a good walk on a nice sunny morning with hardly anyone else about and saw the customary buzzard and on the water saw numerous swans and herons and also a cormorant and various ducks.  In the evening we went back again an hour or so before dusk but nothing noteworthy was spotted although we heard an owl.
Same again on the Sunday on a nice sunny morning and once again spotted swans and herons but the highlight was spotting a woodpecker - first one in ages!!  Were looking out for red squirrels but nothing doing so better luck next time!

Aberlady to North Berwick

September 2

Off to an early start and we arrived at Aberlady about 8am and parked the car up.  Across the bridge to the local bird reserve we saw a few geese and smaller birds flying about on the breeze.
Got down to the seaside about 9am and there was hardly a soul about as we set off along the coast towards North Berwick.  Stopped on a small beach just past Gullane bents and had our porridge/breakfast overlooking the Forth.  Spotted a herd of 12 swans offshore who also seemed to be heading to North Berwick!!

The sun was shining by now and although it was quiet more people started appearing.  Great views of the Forth islands Fidra, Lamb, Craigleith and the Bass Rock.  Beaches on this coast are amazing and must be among some of the best in Scotland if not the UK.  Spotted some more birds like gannets and plovers on the way to NB and also spotted a buzzard and a kestrel.  Also a few butterflies about including peacock and painted lady.

Arrived in North Berwick early afternoon and lots of people about enjoying the beaches and sunny weather.  The peace was suddenly disturbed by a Bi-plane roaring into view over the bay and it proceeded to entertain the gawping crowds with loop the loop and trailing smoky slipstream!  This went on for a while and was great fun to watch on this lovely sunny day in our favourite town in the whole of the lothians!!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Water of Leith

Saturday 1 September

A walk to the water of leith today was very fruitful as we spotted  loads of wildlife including a kingfisher, heron, dippers, grey wagtails and long tailed tits.  Also spotted a few butterflies flying about on this sunny afternoon so a pleasant stroll in the sun was the order of the day. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Mallaig, Morar and Knoydart 18-27 August

18 August

Arrived in |Mallaig some 7 hours after leaving Edinburgh after an eventful bus journey including 2 breakdowns and a change of bus at Fort William. Eventually arrived in Mallaig about 4pm and after dropping our stuff at Mallaig backpackers we set off on a circular walk around the harbour via Mallaigmore back to the village.

The village was buzzing with tourists and we were glad to escape the crowds to go on our walk which took us to the little hamlet of Mallaigmore which is just a mile or so outside the village and has great views over Loch Ness to Knoydart.  It was pleasant and sunny and we were surprised to see that Mallaigmore was full of new houses as when we walked here some 12 years ago there were something like 2 houses!  Obviously a favourite spot for building.

Stopping for a rest just above the hamlet we were rewarded wqith a sighting of 2 golden eagles soaring above the nearby cliffs so off to a great start wildlife wise!  Further on we stopped to take in the views over to Skye and the small isles of Eigg and Rum as well as the comings and goings in the harbour.  As we descended a small sheltered glen back to the village we spotted lots of butterflies and a few dragonflies buzzing about and the lush vegetation was obviously an attraction to them as they were everywhere.

After our evening meal we went for a walk south of the village to a local lochan which just had a new path built to it so it was an easy stroll there and back again and we saw a number of birds, butterflies and dragonflies and there was hardly a soul about.  Great views of Rum and Eigg on the way back.

19 August

After a bit of a restless night in the hostel due to noisy drunks outside and some torrential rain we awoke to an overcast but mild day and after breakfast set out to do another local walk by retracing our steps to the circular walk but doing a longer walk over the hills to another local lochan which was about a 7 mile circular.  We did not see too much wildlife on this walk apart from the now customary butterflies and dragonfliesbut as a consolation the day brightened up and the sun came out for us once again.  The midges were a bit of a pain but we managed to escape without too many bites and made our way back to the village via the old road where we saw lots of birds in people's gardens including finches and starlings.

In the evening we took a stroll around the harbour and got some pictures of local seals and the views.  Dolphins are known to play in the harbour here but we did not spot any tonight despite it being a nice calm evening.

20 August

After breakfast in the Hostel we showered and packed up and awaited our bus down the road to Morar where we had hired a caravan for a few weeks. The caravan was at the side of the owners' B&B so we immediately closed the curtains and got down to some business!

Today turned out not to be such a good day with the weather and there was some torrential downpours so we decided to stay in the caravan for the afternoon. However after making our tea the rain went off so we went out for a stroll on the local beaches including Camusdarroch beach where the film 'Local Hero' was shot - Ben's shack was right at the end of the beach!  We took a stroll around some of the other beaches too and saw a few seabirds and a couple of buzzards and also got some nice sunset pictures so a good end to a frustrating day with the weather.

21 August

A bit of a cloudy start today but it brightened up quite a bit by the time we set off on a properly planned expedition.  We startred off along the old road past the Silver |Sands of Morar heading for Loch Morar. We reached the loch by about 10am and spoke to a local boatman to enquire about boat hire and he informed us that it was available through a local man. After walking a few miles to the end of the road we stopped at a lovely grassy bay where, we were to find out later, the film 'RobRoy' with Jessica Lange and Liam Neeson wass filmed.  I had commented that Loch Morar looked very like Loch Lomond with its wooded islands and apparently that was why the movie was shot here. The scenery and panoramic views on this lovely sunny day were absolutely amazing and it was just a privelege to be here.  Our route took us along the side of the loch and once again the butterflies and dragonflies were out in force and so, unfortunately, were the midges!

Our target was Tarbert over on Loch Nevis and we got there with time to spare before the ferry back to Mallaig came in so we had time to look around and discovered that the old church here had been turned into a bothy for walkers and backpackers.  After a brief look around we went across the bay to the jetty to board the Mallaig ferry.  The ferry actually doubled as a boat trip along Loch Nevis in pleasant conditions and spotted seals, herons and lots of other birds.

21 August

Another nice day today but also some brief but heavy downpours.  we went for some local walks around the local beaches at Camusdarroch and spotted lots of birds including gulls, plovers, herons and gannets. Great views over to Eigg and Rum - one of my favourite views in the whole of Scotland! After going for our mealback at caravan we went out later for an evening walk and got some nice sunset views over to the isles.

22 August

We were up early and heading for Loch Morar as we had hired a boat for the morning to boat around the islands.  It turned out a lovely morning by this point and our trip over to the islands was incident free as the loch was nice and calm.  Our first island had no jetty so we boated in to the shore and had a quick look around but it was tricky to walk about as there were no paths and lots of bracken as well as midges!  On to island 2 and a nice sandy bay awaited us as well as lots of midges!!  After another brief look around we were off again to the next wooded island which had a nice jetty and as we approached it we saw quite a few herons perched on it but they soon flew off as we approached.  This island seemed a bit biggern than the others with a couple of paths so we followed them for a bit but lost them in the ferns.  This island seemed to have a lot of birds on it and we saw lots of small birds and heard herons screeching above the trees.  The local man who hired the boat told us that a sea eagle had nested here in the past and fed on the herons! The sun was still shining as we left the island and headed back to the pier.  A nice trip on a lovely day!

It was by now early afternoon and we headed for a walk along the road up to a high viewpoint overlooking the loch.  A local woman had a wee craft shack next to her house so we went in for a blether with her and she told us her husband had written a local history book and would we like it signed for us!  After getting our copy the kind lady then offered to give us a lift into Morar where we got a lovely Thai meal carryout from a local takeaway and proceeded to eat it on the benches in Morar station!!  Delicious! After this we walked around to the silver sands and then around the coast to Camusdarroch - a very enjoyable day.

August 24

We were on the move today with a taxi to Mallaig with our stuff and then on to the Knoydart ferry heading for inverie.  It was another nice day on this cruise round to Loch Nevis and on the way we saw porpoise and seals as well as numerous seabirds.  Arrived at inverie pier about 11am and went for a brief walk around the village and had a quick chat with the local ranger about walks etc.  After this we walked along to our accommodation which was a local hostel.  After booking in we went for a walk naround the local area and spotted a few stags up in the hills.  After our evening meal we went out again to a local wildlife hide where we hoped to spot an otter but basically spotted a few midges!

August 25

A nice day dawned as we set off to do a huge circular walk of about 20 miles around the coast through the settlements of Sandaig, Doune and Airor and then around the coast and back through the hills to Inverie.  It was a lovely day with gfreat views of Skye and the Small Isles followed by great views over Loch Hourn to Camusferna aka Gavin Maxwell and otter country.There was a small river that we had to cross and it was a bit tricky but an adventure as all the stones were very slippy so it needed careful navigation!! A fantastic day out and a great walk done in lovely weather.

August 26

Another sunny day although it had been raining at night.  We set off up the back of the village to do a
walk of about 8 miles to a local waterfall beauty spot.  The walk was done in lovely warm sunshine and we spottede a couple of Golden Eagles soaring overhead as we made our way up  to the waterfall which was running down from a col between Ladar Bheinn, a munro mountain, and another hill classed as a Corbett. The  stroll back down to the village was lovely as a nice breeze got up and cooled us down.  Rounded off our visit to Knoydart with a meal and some drinks in the Old Forge pub which was heaving!!
The next day was not so nice with rain and wind but we didnt care as we were heading home and after a long day got back about 8pm.

Carnoustie area 4-6 August

4 August Crombie Country Park

Nice day today with sunny spells.  Took the short drive from Carnoustie to nearby Crombie and a walk around the country park.  This small loch here used to be a part of the local water suppl but it was discontinued in 1983 and turned into a lovely country park which has nice walks and lots of wildlife.  Today we saw heron, buzzard, cormorant, swallows, martins and roe deer.  No sign of any red squirrels today but we had an excellent sighting the last time we were here.  Another enjoyable outing!

5 August East Haven to Arbroath coastal walk.

East haven is a small hamlet just a couple of miles east of Carnoustie right on the coast and has a stretch of sandy beach going either way to Carnoustie or Arbroath.  It is a good place for spotting seabirds on the rocks and soaring above the sea looking for fish!  It was a lovely sunny day and we decided to walk all the way along the coast to Arbroath - the beaches here are amazing as the sand stretches for miles and miles and not too many people on them, although like most scottish beaches they are windswept!  Today was a nice walk in the sun and we spotted lots of birds including gannets plunging in to the sea, cormorants, eider ducks, curlews, sandpipers, oystercatchers and various other ducks etc.

6 August The Shanwell

The Shanwell is an area of Carnoustie near the high school which consists of a mixture of farmland and woodlands and is a popular place for a walk with locals.  The weather was a bit overcast today so we went for a walk here rather than along the coast and were rewarded with sightings of bullfinches, goldfinches and yellowhammers.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012


A decent forecast for this weekend so we set off for Blinkbonny wood in East Lothian for a spot of wild camping.  The wood is privately owned by a very welcoming guy called Stephen who owns and manages the wood with his trusty collie dog Sam.Various clearings in the woods are available for wild camping and benches and a firepit are provided as well as the use of  a composting toilet.

We arrived on Friday about 7pm and selected a pitch at the back of the woods with a view of the North berwick law hill and the Bass Rock!  It was a pleasant enough evening so we set to pitching the tent and getting organised, which we did for about 9pm.  A short stroll around the woods then ensued and wildlife spotted included woodcock, hare, buzzard and woodpeckers so this is obviously a good place for wildlife and birds.

After a decent night's sleep we awoke the next day to a sunny day and after breakfast we got ready and had a word with Stephen who told us that there was a nice walk around the nearby Hopes resevoir.  So we duly drove the short but pleasant drive to the resevoir but the weather turned a bit and some heavy showers came on after we set off and we had to dash for the cover of some trees!
however the sun soon came out again and we walked up to the resevoir and crossed the dam to the other side and then did a complete circular walk of this lovely spot.  There was a notice on some of the dam stonework saying that it had been brought from the demolished Calton jail in Edinburgh in 1930!  We did not spot too much wildlife on this walk apart from a buzzard and a fleeting glimpse of a hare from the car.

On arrival back at the camp we got some dry logs from Stephen and got a cracking fire going in the fire pit and proceeded to cook our tea of chicken and sweetcorn over it!  It was a decent evening with no rain so we enjoyed our meal and settled down to read our books by the roaring fire which gave off a lovely warmth!  Woodcock and woodpeckers were flying about overhead and it was a really enjoyable evening.  We did get into our sleeping bags about 10pm after the fire had died out and we had a nice warm sleep!

Up early next morning to the sound of birds and a gentle breeze blowing through the trees.  We took a brief walk around the tracks in the woods and saw a few birds and a few craneflies by the pond made by Stephen.  The sun came up gradually and it was nice to feel its warmth as we headed back to the tent for our breakfast.  Breaking camp took a while as we were out of practice so it was about 10am before we were packed up. No sign of Stephen and Sam this morning so we loaded up the car then parked up just up the road from the wood and set off for a walk up Lammer Law which is the tallest hill in the lammermuirs.  It was breezy and the sun was shining but we could see some squally showers in the distance.  The walk itself was ok but we did not spot much wildlife or birds so not much to report apart from a few other walkers\cyclists.  One lady we spoke to said she had been on holiday in Durness and had gone to Sandwood Bay and got a nice spell of weather whilst up there so that was nice to hear!!

River Almond July 22

A blustery day today but not too bad in terms of rainfall - just a couple of isolated showers!  Took the short drive to near Edinburgh Airport and walked down to the river Almond.  The vegetation was veery dense and as tall as I have ever seen it because of all the rain!  Our mission today was to spot a kingfisher as we have not seen one for a while so we set off along the river bank to a favourite spot and a kingfisher flew past within about 2 minutes!!  what a result!  It then flew back again a bit later so we were happy with that! At the same spot we also spotted a couple of young birds we thought were juvenile goosanders although not certain.

Further on and across the bridge we settled down at the riverside and spotted a couple of dippers and a grey wagtail.  That was about it for this particular walk although we spotted a buzzard on the waay back.