Drive just seventeen miles west of Pitlochry, away from the busy A9, you reach the small village of Dull. Although it is only a short drive away from Aberfeldy it still feels quite remote and our destination for a day out with Highland Safaris. It was going to be anything but dull! You will find something to entertain all ages here including 4×4 off road driving, panning for gold or great coffee and cake!
We were lucky enough to be booked in for a full day of adventure and were off to an early start from home for our 09:30 mountain safari, receiving a warm welcome from the staff upon our arrival. After checking in we still had time for a quick coffee before joining the other four people on the same tour. Our carriage awaits….
Before leaving for the mountain safari, sets of binoculars were handed to out each person if you hadn’t brought your own. Dude and I had come prepared with our own sets but it’s always good to know that if you forget yours there are some to borrow. Once we set off it quickly became apparent that Tony, our ranger for the tour, was knowledgeable in local history, geography, geology as well as flora and fauna. As we made our way off the main roads we soon gained height looking over the strath (the wide, shallow river valley) and it wasn’t long before we spotted roe deer in amongst the trees. The first wildlife spot of the trip.
The weather had certainly pulled it out of the bag for us too, big blue sky, a big yellow thing shining down on us and a balmy 5°, Scotland, you beauty! Although I was a bit sad that most of the snow has now gone and can only be seen on the higher peaks.
If you’ve ever tried to go out and look for wildlife you will know it’s an all or nothing waiting game but just as we were talking about red grouse, as if by magic, someone in the Land Rover spotted a pair. A male and female sat about ten metres from us making it easy to see the distinguishing red “eyebrow” comb and pretty feather markings. Great spot!
In the distance we also spotted two whooper swans (which you can just about see on the photo above).
Once out of the vehicle, time for photos and to see if we could spot anything on the hills; nothing to see but a couple of buzzards riding the thermals. We also used the stop as a good time to take in the crisp Perthshire air.
The open hillside and heather makes this a prime site for hen harriers to nest too but we didn’t see any on this occasion. As we crossed the burn and into the woodland the wide open views became limited to scots pine and douglas fir lining the track. Keeping our eyes peeled for any glimpes of red squirrels or red deer.
Being on alert for wildlife and taking in the scenery is thirsty work so a stop off at Schiehallion Bothy was in order. Time for a hot drink, local shortbread, dram of Dewar’s whisky and a blether in the sunshine.
The views teased us with the white tops of nearby mountains, including Schiehallion – which translates from it’s Gaelic form of Sìdh Chailleann as “Fairy Hill of the Caledonians.”
One last stop to admire the view, above the tree line before making our way back to civilisation and I think you will agree, it’s quite special. Shortly after getting back in to the vehicle and we spotted four red hinds in between the firs, they weren’t too perturbed by us stopping but we didn’t stay long.
Red Deer Centre
Cutting it fine but back just in time to take our seats in the Red Deer Centre to join one of the Highland Safaris rangers, Andy, for the red deer encounter and see the flying demonstration with Ossian the barn owl.
The barn was packed with families with young children and one little girl was clutching her own soft toy owls. We later discovered that this was her fourth trip to the centre because she LOVES Ossian.
The hour long experience was educational, interactive and entertaining; learning about antlers, habitat and getting to hand feed the small herd of reds at the centre. There aren’t many times in life that in the space of a few minutes you can hand feed a magnificent red stag and then have an owl fly silently passed you. What a great way for children (and adults) to learn about these creatures.
It was now lunch time, and after scanning (and drooling) over the menu earlier in the day it was time to try it out. Decisions, decisions. So many fabulous Scottish products – chicken from Rannoch smokery, Galloway poachers pickle, dressings from Summer Harvest in Perthshire, Ayrshire bacon and Stornoway black pudding, to name but a few. The coffee is also local, roasted and ground in Glen Lyon.
It took us ages to decide but eventually opting for the homemade soup of the day and sandwich – lentil and chilli soup with a cheese and ham toastie for Dude and for me – a mixed roasted vegetable panini with feta cheese, side salad and coleslaw.
Full of filling, super tasty and extremely good value for money what more could you want? Freshly baked cake or maybe a tray bake? Good luck with that! I was stuffed. There are not many occasions when I have to decline the “is there anything else I can get for you” question. No cake this time, but this just means we will have to come back!
If you plan to explore the Heart 200, a day out with Highland Safaris would make a perfect stop off. Learn more about the local area, it’s wildlife and history.
** We would like to thank the Highland Safaris team for their kind hospitality and inviting us to visit in exchange for this blog post and it’s images. Being a lightweight and declining cake is all of my own stupidity!