Oi, Yew!

I had an interesting few days up north at the weekend. On Saturday my daughter and I visited the Highland Wildlife Park, at Kincraig, near Kingussie. I’d first heard of the park years ago on “Weirs Way” when Tom Weir visited it for his TV programme. It’s grown since then, and while it still houses home grown rarities such as the Scottish Wildcat and the Pine Marten, it now boasts some more exotic residents. It’s often said that the Cairngorms are very similar to the Arctic, so where better to house some of the rarest Arctic animals, such as the Amur Tiger or the Polar Bear. We spent a good few hours in the park, and to be honest I could have stayed all day if the park hadn’t been closing. If you are in the area, put this on your must visit list!

On the way home on Sunday I popped in to the churchyard at Fortingall, to see its most famous resident. At around 5000 years old and still going strong, the Fortingall Yew is thought to be the oldest living thing in the entire world. It has seen the stone age, the bronze age, the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the Picts, the Scots and it’s still going strong. I recently read a fascinating book about the Yew tree and will be publishing the review at some point on the future.

The Yew tree at Fortingall

Associated with the tree and its history was a geocache. For those of you who aren’t in the know, a geocache is a treasure hunt, in which “people hunt for tupperware in forests, using satellites.” This cache involved noting down clues and a spot of maths, before heading off with GPS co-ordinates, to look for the final location. Maths was never my strong point, and we spent the next two hours searching along the banks of the River Lyon. The first spot I tried was near the river, and I quickly realised this was wrong. I then changed the number I thought was wrong for one I thought was right. After a steep hike up hill I realised this was also wrong. Even though both were wrong I had found two places I would otherwise never have visited. There may have been no tupperware, but I found treasure all the same.


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