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Enchanted Forest - All Year Round

The Enchanted ForestYou will arrive in your thousands to see The Enchanted Forest!

Many of you reading this will be heading to Pitlochry next month for the wonderful festival that it is The Enchanted Forest. This year the theme is In The Wild – and if the plans I have heard about are anything to go by it is going to be a stunning show this year.

Set up will be starting any day now and this takes about a month – there are fences put up, in an attempt to stop you plopping into Loch Dunmore, paths have been widened and improved, viewing platforms have to be built and of course the installation of thousands and thousands of lights and dozens of music speakers. It is quite an undertaking. The installations need to be tested and tested again. It takes a brilliant designer, a talented composer and a small army of technicians to create the final Enchanted Forest you arrive at on the bus in the darkness of Highland Perthshire next month.

I am an Enchanted Forest Groupie!

I love the Enchanted Forest – I have been to EVERY one – and most of them I have visited twice! I have tried to go on an evening when the weather is fair AND then again on a rainy evening – the experience is completely different. There is something about the rain catching the light as it falls that is quite “enchanting”! I like to go early in the run of dates – that way I can share the experience (“bore them into enchantment” as my team say!) with customers in the tearoom who are going. It still amazes me that despite some 76,000 people coming to the Enchanted Forest now, there are still people who think they can just pick up a ticket or five when they get here – sadly this is not the case. Don’t be disappointed – book ahead!

Walking with Labrador RetrieverIt’s not ALL Enchanted Forest – My Forest

I love Faskally woods where the Enchanted Forest is held – it is by far my favourite place to walk my brace of Labradors: Rascal and Rosie. But the Enchanted Forest that you see throughout October isn’t the amazing Forest I explore throughout the year – however, let me tell you, my forest is equally ‘enchanted’.

I am usually there really early in the morning – sometimes about 5.30am… as we drive in, we can often see a deer retreating into the cover of the trees to avoid us. At one point in the walk most days there are two deer watching us from up high on a hill – they are on their guard incase a Labrador nose turns their direction and then they are off. Rascal knows from previous experience that this is a chase not worth pursuing, although he does feel the need to run about 30 metres in their direction before thinking “that’ll do”! – they know the terrain and are 3 times as fast as him. Rosie, my wee retired guide dog chases nothing – except cuddles!

We don’t often just walk around Loch Dunmore – if you walk round here without lots of gorgeous lights and light shows to take your attention – it is only about an 11-minute circuit – nothing like enough to tire out the 8 paws I have with me. But, just recently, I fell and hurt my ankle quite badly, so it forced me to stick to the level path around Loch Dunmore for a few weeks – did you know that was its name – and we just did the circuit 3 tmes!

Loch DunmoreIt is so beautiful – the lilies almost cover the loch completely and it is wonderful to see wading birds using the lilies like stepping stones to cross the water – this completely fries Rascal’s labrador brain! Birds.. WALKING on water! There are always lots of ducks and despite my two charges not being ‘duck chasers’, when the ducklings are about, the mum and dad ducks always ensure they know were the brood are for safety – usually near the middle of the loch.

Although they are away at the moment – A gorgeous Swan couple make Loch Dunmore their home for egg laying and hatching each year. Interestingly , they usually come back in time for the start of the Forest – keep your eyes open for them. Dad Swan takes weeks to complete the really substantial nest, he never expecting mum to use last year’s dilapidated effort. Men reading this take heid, look after your lady! This year, the nest was really close to the bridge that goes across the Loch. Lots of pictures of their signets appeared on Facebook as a result. But, sadly, they are not successful every year at hatching the eggs – sometimes mum sits on the nest for weeks with dad being the ever-attentive security guard, and feeder of mum… and nothing happens. I don’t know how the swans feel, but I feel so sad for them. This year we had 6 signets to start with – this reduced to 3 quite quickly. Maybe the heron, or a buzzard or maybe the nest being so close to the bridge meant a fox could reach it, who knows.

The Heron at Loch Dunmore is a bit stupid he always breaks his brilliant cover just as the dogs get close, not even REALLY close, it is only when he moves that they know he is there – and pay no attention to him at all! Daft bird!

Heron at Loch DunmoreThis year I have had a friendly wee robin welcome me when I park up the car in the morning and flies between the tree stumps for the first few yards of our walk then leaves us to it – his name? Erm.. Robin of course!

A few weeks ago I heard a couple of buzzards having a good go at each other – not physically, it just sounded like very noisy ‘verbals’. More akin to something you might hear on a Friday night in Pitlochry! I figure, as I only normally hear one buzzard, this may have been some young upstart trying to muscle in on the territory! It sounded fierce and my quiet wee Labrador, Rosie was not happy about it at all, she’s a lover not a fighter.

Occasionally you will be lucky enough to see the early rising, lesser spotted fisherman – but not very often – a bit early for them! One chap did get a bit of a fright some years ago when one of my labradors, Midge, helped herself to his Battenburg cake!!!! That woke him up! Midge took her bounty into the woods and ignored me, and battled through the dry cake, struggling to swallow it towards the end, until it was gone!

At the far end of the Loch there is a wee memorial to a six year old boy who passed away in Jan 2016 and his dog who died a few months after him – I always say good morning and tell him to have a great day and let him how our walk has been – fresh flowers appear at the spot quite regularly. If this wee chap belongs to you, rest assured he gets a friendly word every time I pass, he is never alone for long.

I hear owls, and woodpecker and countless other birds, I hear rustling in the woods that could be foxes and badgers and mice and voles and shrews or any number of other forest dwellers.

I often see a red squirrel in the woods, and hear them in the trees above but my wildlife highlight has got to be seeing 4 squirrels chasing (I like to think ‘playing’) in the tree canopy above me – it lasted for about 3 minutes and was the most amazing sight.

I shot a few stills and popped them into a short slide show to give you a flavour of how Faskally looks without the razzamatazz of the Enchanted Forest - have a wee look.

So you see, the forest isn’t just enchanted for a month – it is enchanted all year round and I urge you to come visit and enjoy it.

For details on how to buy tickets go to www.enchantedforest.org.uk

To book a table at Hettie’s Click Here

And to get £8 off Afternoon Tea for Two at Hettie’s (ONLY for those going to the Forest) - Click Here

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