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The traveler: An expected journey This time it's the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Sweden & Norway before England again for several weeks and on to Croatia.

Middle Earth: Perthshire

UNITED KINGDOM | Thursday, 23 July 2015 | Views [463]

Well now let's see if I can catch everyone up on the beautiful places I've been, and do a bit better about posting consistently!

After Edinburgh I arrived in the twin towns of Birnam and Dunkeld, separated by the River Tay and probably smaller than Nederland combined. I ended up at another Indian restaurant again that evening as most of the others stopped serving at 8pm or 8:30. The bunkbed in the hostel was exceedingly short, but as I spent the day walking it didn't matter much.

In the morning I headed up the hill out of town with a handy map headed for the Loch of the Lowes and nature center. It's so easy to leave everything behind so quickly. In no time I was wondering past sheep and through right of way gates that let people through and keep animals in, rather like a rotating door, but only half of it. After a quiet walk I arrived at the nature center. At the bird feeders there was a red squirrels. These squirrels  are being out competed by America's gray squirrels. Our squirrels are also carriers of squirrel pox to which the red squirrels are particularly susceptible. Their color is very much like autumn, but their white bellies stand out.

After watching the squirrel climbing into the bird feeders I went out to the blinds with the other bird watchers to take a look at the 3 Osprey fledglings in the nest above the loch. Their wing span is incredible; they look too big for them when they stretch their wings!

Back in town I admired the large trees and sweeping grass and clover by the partly destroyed church, another example of reformation enthusiasm. From there I started out on a walk to the Fiddler's tree where a famous fiddler played the fiddle as a young man. After walking for about an hour I thought I must be getting close to half way. I pulled out my map and realized I was only half way up the first part of the loop as I thought my path was the shorter loop next to it! I decided to keep going though. The farther I walked the more it seemed I stepped into my own world. The only downside was that the main road up the east side of Scotland followed the same river the path did on just the other side.

A side path caught my eye around this time and I made my way up a steep hill into what looked like an Elven forest. The photo here does not do justice to the beautiful color.

All afternoon I felt as though I were walking through Middle Earth (plus a highway). They actually sent me down the highway bridge at one point (there was a sidewalk)! I then succeed in helping some lost drivers find their way to their hotel in Birnam. After the bridge I was on my way back, just a couple hours later than I thought when starting out! I stopped for a snack by the abandoned stone buildings in one of these photos. I wandered who had once lived there, but they was nothing to answer my question.

I finally made it to the unremarkable fiddler's tree and put up my feet on the bench while I watched the horses munching next to the path.

Since I never made it to one of my top choices of walks for the day I got myself up early the next morning and headed out before my bus later in the morning. I practically had the whole place to myself as I wondered up the path to "The Hermitage". What an incredible gorge! I could just see the dwarfs and hobbits crossing it on their journey. It was a quite a peaceful walk before the tour buses and late sleepers arrived!

Back near town I made one last stop at the Birnam Oak, one of the oldest trees in Britain, possibly from near the time of Shakespeare. Next to it stands and even bigger, but younger tree, a mere 300 year old Sycamore.

Those of you that know me well will be impressed that I managed all of this plus breakfast, grocery shopping, and packing up by 10:30 in the morning in time for my bus.


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