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Glasgow School of Art breathes fresh life into steading visited by Dingwall Field Club

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Dingwall Field Club outing.
Dingwall Field Club outing.

Members of Dingwall Field Club headed to the Loch of Blairs on the Altyre estate, near Forres, for their most recent outing.

The refurbished farm steading is now occupied as a campus by Glasgow School of Art. The impressive cluster of yellow stuccoed buildings, topped by Romanesque towers, was built in the Italianate style in the 1830s.

These elegant reeds had grown very high in places and a few bulrushes could be seen among the feathery heads. Seats strategically placed to enjoy the peaceful surroundings over the water gave opportunities to spot wildlife. There were several hides at good vantage points too, from which ducks were seen – tufted duck and mallard among them. Members looked for the tame robin seen on a previous visit, but someone had already been there this morning and had spread a pile of fresh mealworms on a nearby tree stump.


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A heron stood at the edge of the water watching patiently for fish and a moorhen scooted across from the reeds. Growing so prolifically, these would provide ample cover and nesting sites for birds.

Good flat paths throughout made walking easy.

It was interesting to see the renovated boat house and bothy on the far side of the loch. These are now available for educational purposes and include a room available for hire by members of the wider public.

There was a pond-dipping area at the edge of the loch. Under some tall conifers, felled tree trunks had been laid in a wide circle to provide seating. Probably intended for use as an outdoor classroom, it made an ideal spot for us to eat lunch before we completed our circuit.

In some parts, the reeds appeared to have been cut, one of the indications of a high standard of maintenance everywhere. At Loch of Blairs, a tranquil and attractive corner awaits the walker, dog owner and wildlife watcher.

The next meeting will be a morning walk on March 21 at Ord Hill, North Kessock, starting from Dimgwall at 10am. New members and friends are welcome.

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