The Balbirnie Park, Fife

It’s officially spring now and a couple of days ago I took my camera with me on a walk around the Balbirnie Park in Fife. Originally this land was the Balfour family estate but now it belongs to Fife Council and it’s well used by the local people – walkers, cyclists and even now and again people riding horses as there are some bridle paths there. Get your walking shoes on and come with me!

Back Burn

The wild garlic is really burgeoning now although only the leaves, so I wasn’t accompanied by its pungent scent, the flowers won’t be long in appearing now if the weather keeps mild. That aroma will probably assail me whenever I open the back door in a week or two. By the bye, I was at a ‘fancy’ food market last weekend and there was a stall there selling bunches of wild garlic leaves at £5 a bunch. At that rate the land around Balbirnie is worth a fortune! It’s good for making pesto, if you’re that way inclined.

Back Burn

It’s a quiet walk, apart from the birds who keep up a constant chatter but are mainly in hiding. The Back Burn as this small stream is called is I suppose what attracted the neolithic people to settle in this area 4 or 5,000 or so years ago. You can see a post about their nearby stone circle here.
Back Burn

There are a few picnic benches dotted around but they don’t really detract from the essential wildness of the place.
Back Burn

As far as I know there’s only this one giant redwood (sequoia) tree on the estate although as those trees were introduced to Britain around the time of the Battle of Waterloo they’re more commonly know as Wellingtonias here – in honour of the Duke of Wellington’s triumph in battle. This one doesn’t seem too large to me so possibly it isn’t actually a giant one. I suppose a lot depends on how old it is though.
giant redwood tree

Hallelujah – the first rhododendron is in flower, as you can see this one is being propped up as it’s trunk wouldn’t bear the weight of its top. In common with many Victorian estates Balbirnie has lots of beautiful specimens, some of them quite rare and planted when there was a vogue for the next exciting thing to be found by plant hunters of the day, many of whom were Scottish.

Rhododendron, Balbirnie, Fife

Well, that was just a wee wander along a part of the large Balbirnie estate, I hope you enjoyed the breath of fresh air and aren’t too tired. I went home and had coffee and a biscuit of course. Well I deserved it I think, but I wish I could offer you one too.

You can see more images of Balbirnie Park here.

An Autumn Walk

Just over a week ago we were in Aberdeenshire, visiting Fyvie Castle and remarking on how hot it was for the time of year. It turned out that it was 18 celsius at Fyvie and I know that because that night the weather man on the BBC said that Fyvie Castle had been the hottest part of Britain that day – amazing for late October. Just a week later and back home in Fife we had our first frost of the season. There was a time when we used to have a proper autumn which lasted for weeks but those days seem to have gone.

Anyway on one of my recent autumn walks I took some photos of the surroundings on the edges of the Balbirnie estate, get your flat shoes on and come with me!
path south

I’d like to know who put this hill here, it’s just a wee bit too steep to be enjoyable, until you get used to it!
hill near Balbirnie, Fife

Phew – we’ve reached the top and it’s downhill for a while now.
looking south from hill
So called civilisation with a road in the background, but the cars don’t seem to bother the horses in the field which you should be able to see – just.
horses

If you look carefully below you should be able to see an orange and black beetle, near the centre of the photo below, it’s a Burying beetle, that’s only the second one that I’ve seen and I saw my first one just a month previously as it was in the act of burying a shrew’s carcass – life must go on I suppose, for the beetle anyway.

Burying beetle

path west
Through some trees.
woodland path
In the winter the ground here is usually really boggy, it doesn’t help that mountain bikers use it too.
woodland path

woodland path

Back on to the gravel path, there’s a busy road to the left of this path but trees and a stone wall hides the traffic. You might think that it looks like the photos were taken on different days as the sky goes from bright blue to whitish grey – but that’s our constantly changing weather!

gravel path south
The berries below are on Viburnums or Guelder rose.
Viburnum berries

They’re so bright and shiny they almost look like plastic.

Viburnum berries

I love the roots of the tree below, look closely and you’ll be able to see a short blue nylon rope hanging from the left of the tree. Local kids are obviously using it as a rope swing and you can also see that they’ve been making stepping stones over the burn. I’ve never seen anyone playing there but I’m so happy that kids are still doing things like that and aren’t always glued to some electronic gadget.
tree roots

I also love the fact that people have been working and living around this area for thousands of years, well about 5,000 years anyway, and below is the evidence they left behind in the shape of standing stones and burial areas.

standing stones 2

Well, that should have burned off a few calories, so it’s a good excuse to put the kettle on, put your feet up and have some tea/coffee and biscuits. That’s what I did next anyway.