Birds & Butterflies of Scotland

Beside the birds in the zoo and bird parks, we saw many wild birds on top of the countless sea gulls and ducks. Here are some of those that I managed to take a picture of.

A magpie. They are supposed to be pretty common but I only saw them in a few places.

 Another of the more commonly sighted bird which unfortunately like in Singapore has outlive its welcome

 And this is the famous Robin!

This was spotted in London all over the place outside the London Tower but I believe it is native to the whole of UK. I think it is a thrush. Somebody correct me if I am wrong.

And my one and only photograph of a butterfly – spotted right on top of Cow’s Head Summit. This is a Red Admiral butterfly.

Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland

Our last main stop before we move over to London was to the Edinburgh Zoo. It seems we must make a pit stop at a zoo in every major place that we visit. There are quite of marine park and zoo in Scotland but Edinburgh is one of the bigger and better zoo in UK so we felt obliged to drop in.
Edinburgh Zoo is one of the few zoo in the world to have the Panda bear. But it is more famous for its Penguin Parade where the Penguin goes on a real march through the zoo, Unfortunately we were there at the wrong time so did not get to witness this spectacular sight.
But we did managed to catch the feeding of several of the animals like the Oriental Short Clawed Otter gobbling down the mouse.

And the Asiatic lion running away with a piece of meat.

We also saw up close the Amur Leopard

The very rare Scottish wild cat

And surprise surprise surprise the Koala bear. This is the first time I seen one outside of Australia.

And another import from another country, the Stellar Sea Eagle.

And last but not least, this beautiful snake aptly named Taiwan Beauty Snake.

But overall I was disappointed with the layout of the zoo. It was a bit messy and most of the primates were kept behind glass enclosures. Maybe it is to protect them from the cold but the view of them were spoilt by the glass which were badly scratched. The variety of animals were not as great as I had hopped as compared to say Ueno Zoo or the Shanghai Zoo. 

Edinburgh

Edinburgh has got to be the most boring place so far in our visit to Scotland. Other than Arthur’s Seat, there wasn’t really much to see. The famed Royal Mile is just a stretch of old restored buildings that caters mainly to tourist selling food and tourist trinkets much like our restored Chinatown back in Singapore.

Back view of the Royal Miles as seen from Princes Street
We skipped Edinburgh Castle and instead went to Holyrood Palace which is the quarters for the Queen of England when she visits.

One thing about European country is that there is always some sort of demonstration and protests going on. Like this one on Climate Change which we saw from our diner window.

And there are buskers a plenty. Practically one every 10 feet doing all sort of performance.

But at the end of the day, I was glad to be out of Edinburgh and on to London.

Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh, Scotland

In Edinburgh, we were a bit lost what to do. We had visited the Royal Mile the day before and didn’t particularly fancy going back there. We also had no desire to visit castles and museums of which there are plenty.
Then we discovered Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano. But we didn’t know that. We only knew there was a hiking trail just 20 minutes walk from our B&B and there was a small hill to climb. After getting direction from the boss of the B&B, we walked and came to this place with this signboard
Alright, we were right on target. No losing the way this time round.
And this was our target or so we thought.
But actually this is just the first of the range we got to climb to get to the top which is this one.
Yep, the pointy one right at the back at the far left corner
The climb up the 250 metres summit was fairly easy and straight forward. We could follow this road 
Or just walk up the side of the hill
In cool weather, the climb up was much easier than climbing our 163 metres Bukit Timah Hill. But even at a miserly 250 metres, the view it offered of the surrounding city of Edinburgh was stunning. 
The view of Edinburgh at mid point
And the views from the summit

Yes we almost there at the summit

 I want to fly up instead of climb up

And we there
Coming down, we transverse another few hills with tracks and trails leading left right centre

This has got to be a trail runners dream training ground. And indeed there were a few runners criss crossing the hills.  How I wish I was dressed for running!
And then there this ruins of an old abbey which overlooks one of the smallest loch in Scotland and a real life Palace!
St Margaret Loch
Holyrood Palace

But all good things must come to an end and so finally we reluctantly made our way down to find lunch. Now who want to join me come here chiong sua?

Camus House, Onich, Scotland

During our sojourn through Scotland, we stayed at quite a few places. Mostly bed and breakfast but the place that stand out the most was the Victorian style Camus House at Onich, Fort William run by Alastair and Louise.Not only did these lovely couple made us feel welcome, they also gave us many tips on the best place to visit in the area, the best place to eat. It was from them that we managed to have the best time in Scotland, hiking through the Glens. Read the account of our visit to Glen Righ and Glen Nevis here.

The whole place is so beautiful and romantic. From the lovely cottage bedroom to the warm inviting living room to the countryside looking dining room and the view of the Loch.
Can you imagine a more beautiful bedroom than this? Possibly the most romantic bedroom one can get. Honeymooners, this will be the most perfect place to smooch around if you are not the sun and sand type.

The cosy looking living room. There is absolutely no hotel style lobby to spoil the whole setup.

And the beautiful dining room where breakfast is served with a gorgeous view of the Loch Linnhe

Lochside 

So if any of you reading this decides to go to Scotland and in particular the Highlands, this is the place to stay. You can make your reservation through their website here. And no, I am not paid to sing praises of this place. Just my way of saying thanks for the hospitality and the great stay.

Glen Nevis – Steall Fall, Scotland

Continued from Glen Nevis – Lower Falls,

In the end we decided to continue on. Why? Because we could see other people driving in so we figured since there are people still going in, it should be fine. And so we walked on the road. We managed to overtake the other couple who was resting by the road side. Thank goodness we are fit as a fiddle:)
The sidekick walking up the single track road.

And finally we came to this sign!

Yes we finally found it. After trekking for almost the whole day, we reached the trail head to the Steall waterfall. It was now almost 5 pm. How far to the fall and how much time do we have? And more ominously, there was this sign at the start of the trail head. 
How difficult was the hike? I didn’t seem to recall any bad write up about the journey there though and since we had went through so much to reach here, I wasn’t going to be deter by 1 small puny little sign. So off we went.
The initial part was fairly easy and a no brainer. Narrow but flat trail notwithstanding that we were walking next to a gorge the like of which we city folks have never seen before.

Talking about the gorge. We have never seen a real life gorge before except in the movies and this was like something from the movie. Can’t really tell from the following 3 photos but this was as close as I dare to get to take the shots without fear of dropping in. It look deep and rocky with water rushing through it. A fall would likely be death – either from hitting the rocks or being swept away into the depth of the gorge.

And if that was not bad enough, we were literally walking right next to it on a small rocky ridge.

But truth be told, it wasn’t that bad and quite easily negotiated. And after some walking we finally came out to the open!

And after turning the corner, there it was! The Steall waterfall right at the back of the photo

 A closer look at the Steall fall. Not as spectacular as expected. Supposed can go nearer but to reach it, we have to cross the river. We didn’t want to get our feet wet so we were contended to admire it from afar. But there is another way to reach it without getting the feet wet.

And that is by using this rather aptly name Steall bridge. Only problem with this bridge is, there is only 3 wire ropes on it. 2 on top for the hand to hold and 1 below to walk on!

Like what this lady is doing. And we, we chickened out!
But finally after almost 8 hours, we seen the Steall Waterfall and concluded our trip to the Highlands on a high.