Last month while Emma and Alessio were over on holiday, we managed an outing to Loch Leven and its infamous castle. Loch Leven is one of Scotland’s most important nature reserves. It is the largest natural shallow water body in lowland Britain and is home to more breeding ducks than anywhere else in inland Europe. You can visit their website here. The main purpose of our visit was to see the little island and its castle, now a ruin. You can only reach the island by boat, unless you are a very energetic swimmer. The boat is pretty small and can only take a maximum of 12 passengers. It also lies low in the water and you can feel the boat swaying in the wind and waves. Below is a photo of one of the boats landing at the island, followed by Kathleen and Alessio on on board.
This four storey tower was built in the 14th century and is one of the oldest in Scotland. The castle is of course most famous for its role in the sad story of Mary, Queen of Scots. After she lost power in 1567 she was imprisoned in the castle and it was there she was forced to abdicate her throne in favour of her infant son, James VI. She did manage to escape in 1568, but was re-captured and sent to England to exile and death. Nothing really remains from her captivity, though it is still an enjoyable trip to come face to face with your country’s past. The castle is run by Historic Scotland and for a bit more on its history you can visit their website here.
One other attraction of the island was a beautiful pheasant which was very friendly and obviously used to humans sharing his or her turf. Another attraction of the island is that you get a great view of Kinross House across the water on the mainland. Kinross House is one of Scotland’s greatest architectural gems. Built in the late 17th century by Sir William Bruce, Kinross House is regarded as his masterpiece and the first neoclassical Palladian mansion built in Scotland. Below you can see the pheasant and then a view of Kinross House.
In addition to the island and castle, Loch Leven now has a cycle and walking trail which goes all the way around the loch. There is also an important RSPD bird reserve by the loch at Vane Farm. After the castle we stopped off at the visitor centre to indulge ourselves in their cafe. Very good it was too and from the cafe you can take advantage of the binoculars to view the hundreds and hundred of birds of all kinds of shape and sizes. There are lots of walks around the bird reserve including some going up the hillside. There are also some lovely wild sections for children to play in. One of these had this lovely wooden sculpture of an owl. A suitable way to end this post.