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Visit the largest loch in the lowlands
Vane Farm RSPB Nature Reserve (Kinross)
Member Name: markos9
Vane Farm RSPB Nature Reserve (Kinross)
Advantages: Great facilities and gorgeous scenery.
Loch Leven is situated midway between Perth and Edinburgh and is the largest loch in the Scottish Lowlands. The loch has the largest breeding population of ducks in inland Europe and is visited by thousands of migrating ducks, geese and swans every winter.
In recognition of its importance for wildlife, Loch Leven has been designated as a National Nature Reserve (National Nature Reserve status indicates that a site is one of the UK's most important sites for wildlife).
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds owns and manages a reserve on the banks of Loch Leven. This makes a superb focal point for a visit to the area. Members of the RSPB get in free; there's a small charge for non-members.
The facilities at Vane Farm are truly excellent. There are several bird hides, one of which is completely enclosed and glazed; a real boon on a cold Scottish morning at the loch side. There are also two trails for walking and bird watching, a large car park (with several disabled bays), toilets (including disabled toilets and baby changing facilities), a shop and a café. Indeed, there's all you need for a day out in the countryside.
A visit to Vane Farm at any time of the year will be a treat. The local scenery is beautiful at any time of the year, and the reserve itself is set in woodland at the base of the lovely Vane Hill. In summer, visitors will be treated to the spectacle of ospreys fishing in the loch and flying off with their catch to feed their chicks' voracious appetites.
The best time to visit is, however, autumn. Here the golds, reds, and browns, of the trees on the surrounding hills positively glow in the autumnal sunlight. In the morning, mist will be rising off the loch and the sound of thousands of pink-footed geese can be heard as they call loudly whilst searching for food.
The walk to the top of Vane Hill is well worth doing. This hill is only a couple of hundred feet high, so it only takes half an hour or so to get to the top, but what a view! At the top of the hill, visibility permitting, you can see for miles around taking in the lovely Kinross countryside.
The view is dominated, however, by the loch spread out below. An amazing spectacle visible from here are the flocks of geese flying about the loch; a viewer on the top of the hill actually looks DOWN on the birds flying below. This is quite an eerie feeling!
Back down at the visitor centre, its well worth trying the café. This is superb for two reasons; firstly the food is excellent. Top quality food, from quite a varied menu is served here. Best of all, however, you can eat your food looking out of the wide windows at the loch spread out before you. Binoculars and telescopes are provided for visitors to get a close look at the wildlife below.
The shop is also worth a look. Selling the usual RSPB fare of books, DVDs, clothing and bird food, it's a good place to pick up a souvenir of your visit.
The RSPB reserve at Vane Farm has a strong educational focus. School visits are hosted all year round aiming to show kids nature in a fun way and the prices are extremely good value.
A trip to Vane Farm, especially for families, is highly recommended if you're in the area. There's plenty to see and do (including eight miles of cycle track around the loch) and places to shelter if the weather turns inclement. Staff at RSPB reserves are invariably friendly and helpful, so if you've any questions on what to see (or what you've seen), just ask.
If you want to know more, the RSPB's website has lots of information and can be found at http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/v/vanefarm/i ndex.asp.
Summary: A great reserve for a wonderful day out.
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