Published: July 13th 2011July 6th 2011
It was pretty wet this morning but, undaunted, we headed off to Castle Campbell near the village of Dollar. When we arrived in the car park it was still raining so we donned out waterproof pants and our Gore-tex raincoats so that we were waterproof from top to toe!! We headed off into the mist to find the castle, which perches on a ridge between the ravines in which the Burn of Care and the Burn of Sorrow run.
The castle came into the possession of the chief of Clan Campbell in the 1460s. Over the next two centuries the Campbells played leading roles in Scotland's history and continued to occupy their Lowland seat until it was severely damaged in 1654, during Cromwell's occupation of Scotland.
You might think that we would be the only tourists daft enough to venture out to Castle Campbell's isolated location on a wet and gloomy day, but there seemed to be a steady stream of couples and small groups arriving! After exploring the inside of the ruins, which were actually roofed and waterproof, we even ventured down into the terraced gardens for a brief look. The gardens are ringed with rhododendrons and must
be stunning in the Spring when those are flowering.
Feeling a bit cold and damp we trudged back to the car. With another castle on our list we kept our wet weather gear on and headed back towards Stirling before taking the turn off for Doune where Doune Castle is located ... believe it or not!! One of Doune Castle's claims to fame is that it is where they filmed 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. At this site we were issued with audio guides narrated by Terry Jones.
His commentary on the castle was really entertaining and the added bonus was that he kept inviting us to 'press the green button' to hear more about the filming of various scenes in and around the castle. Hilarious! We are going to have to buy a copy of the DVD when we get home so that we can play spot the castle!!
We had a bite to eat in a really lovely little cafe in Doune before following some signs to the Argaty red kite visitor centre. On single track roads again (!) we found our way to the farm that hosts the visitor centre. The farm has
operated for many years as a working farm that happily co-exists with, and indeed encourages, the local wildlife.
From the car park we followed the signs to the hide where we found a small group of bird watchers and a volunteer (employee?) who was able to point out where the kites were perching. Some food had been put out in the field in front of the hide so we waited patiently to see if the kites would start coming down to take the food.
And we waited and waited, one of the resident buzzards was pointed out to us perched at the top of another tree and then ... we waited a bit more. Suddenly some ravens started showing an interest in the food that had been put out. Well, the kites were not about to let the ravens take their free feed so they started flying down from the trees where they had been perched to snatch their food out from under the beaks of the ravens!! We took heaps of photos ... one or two may even be half way decent??! I think we need some practice at taking photos of bird on the wing!!!
The guide in the hide told us that red kites are actually extinct in Scotland, but have been reintroduced following a breeding program incorporating birds from Welsh and European populations. They have had a good breeding season this year with around 40 chicks hatching. Most of the chicks have now fledged and the adult birds are starting to moult. There were eight birds on the wing today. Come August, when the adult birds have finished moulting and the young birds are more confidant, there could be as many as 70 birds flying around the hide.
In pursuit of an image we had seen on a postcard that incorporated Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, we went driving around to the north of the Wallace Monument to see if we could find the right vantage point. Hmmn, we had a nice drive around the grounds of Stirling University and couldn't find any roads heading upwards. Eventually we drove back out to the A road and tried a different road that looked like it might get some elevation. It did take us up above the bluff that the Wallace Monument is on, but the angle was all wrong. Maybe the image
on the postcard is an aerial view??
We spent an hour or so at the B&B before walking into the city again for some dinner. We went to 'Meditteraneo' tonight for a Spanish tapas/Greek mezze meal. Once again a better meal than we had on our first night in town. It seems to us that the eating options in the city are much better propositions than the restaurant that Brian at the B&B is recommending. We're pretty sure he's getting a kick back?!
There are more photos below