Set in fifty five acres of Fife countryside, the Scottish Deer Centre (SDC) near Cupar, is committed to the preservation of deer species and a number of other animals. Providing a natural home to deer, raptors, brown bears, wolves and wild cats, the SDC provides an educational facility as well as conducting research. Above all the SDC is a fun day out for all and I went along last week to see what was there.
Found at the Bow of Fife, the SDC has many well marked out and maintained walks that anyone can follow and observe a selection of animals. Most importantly of all, there are the deer. The park is home to twelve different species of deer and one of the first things that struck me was just how domestic and tame they were. I was mesmerized at being able to be so close and stroke one of these beautiful animals. They are so gentle and friendly it really was a joy. I hadn’t realized that there were so many different species of deer. Apart from the Red, Roe and Fallow deer I had not experienced the other breeds. There are deer from all over the world.
I have to admit that I imagined, just as the name suggests, there to be nothing but deer there but I was mistaken. There are a number of different animals, some native to the UK and others from overseas. I was absolutely taken by observing Highland Wild Cats. These are extremely difficult animals to see in the wild and, even in captivity like this, they are still very shy. I did hang around, my persistence paid off and I managed to see them. Another quite majestic animal was the European Bear. The sheer size and volume of them was quite remarkable. I was able to walk past the Moose, the Red Fox, Northern Lynx and Wolf Wood on my tour.
Education is a big element of the work of the SDC and as well as providing tours, they accommodate school groups. They have a number of different activities for education including the following :
The SDC hosts a number of birds of prey and there are three displays everyday. I was lucky enough to be there at the right time to sit and watch a display of falconry and what a treat it was. It is really amazing to see such spectacular birds close up and learn a bit about them. As well being used for display, breeding and educational purposes, they are regularly taken up the glens and exercised and used at events.
The SDC has a range of daily activities from tours to otter feeding. These are in keeping with the centre’s ethos and education strategy. Offered daily are the following:
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the Scottish Deer Centre and would recommend it as somewhere for anybody to visit. Although they serve a distinct educational purpose and provide a lot of activities for children, a visit to the SDC is for everyone. I particularly enjoyed seeing the deer and the falconry display. Being so close the these majestic birds of prey was a real treat for me.
Facilities for disabled people were evident but felt like a little below par. Although the whole park is flat, I certainly wouldn’t like the job of pushing a wheelchair over some of the paths. Disabled toilets are behind a rickety sliding door in the ladies loo, not cool for guys like me who might like to access them! However, the SDC is generally accessible but could do with spending some money to improve this situation.
Since I started this sports and fitness blog last year, I have felt really inspired to start hillwalking again. When I was at university I was very motivated to climb mountains. I was a member of the university hillwalking society. These were really happy days and I climbed over 25 Munros with various university friends and others . I wanted to see if I still had the ability to climb mountains again. Last week a friends and I set out to climb Ben Chonzie, a Munro in Perthshire. I had been looking forward to this opportunity for some time. As well as an opporunity to climb a Munro again, I was looking forward to putting my new Scarpa boots to the test.
I have always found Munro bagging difficult. It takes phenomenal amounts of my energy and stamina. In the days when I was doing it more regularly, I was still limited to what I could do in a day. I found it difficult sometimes to find people to go walking with because I was generally slower and needed a little patience. Many people would want to go out and bag 4 or 5 peaks in a day. I was limited as to how much I could do in a day. However, I have found good friends over the years and have been able to tackle a few more of the Scottish mountains.
Myself and a close friend approached Ben Chonzie from Glen Lednock. This is probably the shortest route to take if climbing this mountain although you can do the walk from different starting points. It is a relatively short Munro walk but it feels like a challenge all the same. The drive up Glen Lednock was just beautiful. Trees were still bare but draped in soft green moss providing a lovely atmosphere. We managed to spot a couple of red kites on the single track road up the Glen, as well as a few buzzards. Weather started off with the sun shining down on the peaceful valley.
Leaving the car at the road end, we followed a wide track through a farm up towards the base of the hill in fairly pleasant weather. At the start there was a very gentle slope up among sheep. On the left lay an attractive duck pond around which there were pine trees and a small amount of forest. The track continued past the farm, over a wooden bridge and through a number of gates. A bit further up, the path up to hill leaves the track, veers to the left and continues past a concrete structure that looked like it was used to control water flow from a burn. The next section of the walk grew steeper and very boggy! It felt like we were walking up a river.
As well as water and bog underfoot, it began pouring with rain, wind strength was increasing and visibility was not great. We made a decision to abandon reaching the summit and slowly retraced our steps because there was no sign of the weather improving and our waterproofs were being tested to the Max.
Shorter than expected however, it was still a most enjoyable walk. We will return to climb Ben Chonzie again in the future.
My Disability Cycling Adventure through the Outer Hebrides was the highlight of my year in 2016. Some places just motivate and inspire you, and Callanish did that for me. It really left a lasting impression.
I have been lucky enough to write a piece for another blog Wanderlusters. This is a truly inspirational, adventure and travel blog with wonderful articles and photography from all over the world.
Please click the link below and get my take on the amazing, Callanish.