On the wild side column: Even the shortest of walks can reveal the wonders of nature

All that remains of Achalader House, near Blairgowrie, pictured before its demolition, are piles of red sandstone blocks.
All that remains of Achalader House, near Blairgowrie, pictured before its demolition, are piles of red sandstone blocks.

After a rainy morning spent at Kinloch village near Blairgowrie the sun came out so we set off for a short afternoon walk, following an old track past a disused quarry and the ruinous farm of Achalader.

Three roe deer sprang out across the track in front of us and bounded off over the fields.

Isn’t it amazing how these graceful creatures just seem to disappear right in front of your eyes?

Heading north on this lovely old track we came upon huge piles of red sandstone blocks which were the only evidence of the once impressive mansion of Achalader House, or Ballied House as it was sometimes known. Drifts of snowdrops lined the edges of this old estate track with daffodils almost ready to burst into colour on the banks.

We saw a few early primroses and celandines as we passed the empty walled garden of the estate, the crumbling walls of a once thriving and productive scene.

Birdsong was a pleasant accompaniment on our walk, with robin, blue tit, great tit and chaffinch.

Three buzzards swooped overhead searching for food in this peaceful setting high above a few surviving Wellingtonia trees standing in the parkland, reminding us of their past grandeur.

Gulls noisily followed a tractor busy ploughing in a field.

Rounding the corner at the top of the hill, just past Meadows of Ballied Farm, what wonderful views over nearby Loch of Drumellie towards Coupar Angus and the Sidlaw Hills beyond on this lovely spring afternoon.

At the edge of the track we found a large specimen of the wood-decaying white-rot fungus growing out of a tree, spilling over onto the ground underneath and looking like discarded litter or great lumps of polystyrene.

Further downhill, following the bubbling Cattymill Burn, we located the site of the Achalader Estate private graveyard in the woods, well-hidden, neglected and overgrown, but we had no time to visit as the weather looked like rain again.

Before reaching the A923 we passed Catty Mill Cottage and later learned that a distillery had existed here in the early 19th century beside the burn with extensive buildings and traces of ruins may still be seen if you have time to search.

Our walk ended with a short distance on the main road where we admired a graceful row of weeping willows leading along the banks of the burn which flows into the Loch of Drumellie.

A large flock of geese had just risen from the loch and we watched as they made their way westward.

Further east at nearby Loch of the Lowes we learn that two ospreys have returned to nest once again.

Even on the shortest of walks so much can be seen and found in nature.