Places to Visit in Scotland
- Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre, Comrie, Perthshire
In the Perthshire Hills
The large sign at the entrance to the Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre sums up the place pretty well - wild animals, wild bird hatchery, woodland walks, adventure playground, picnic sites and a coffee shop (though this is closed in winter). They perhaps only overlook the obvious, namely the glorious Perthshire countryside. Of course, anyone driving there, either from the south via the winding "B" road or through the delightful town of Crieff and the picturesque village of Comrie will already be well aware of the surroundings.
Some wildlife centres sometimes struggle to attract large numbers of visitors but Auchingarrich seems to have created the right mix of entertainments for boisterous youngsters, animal lovers and those looking for a leisurely stroll in the country.
The Wild Animals
Perhaps the term "wild" is not particularly apt for this docile-looking black version of the traditional Highland cattle, but there are is also a deer park, otters, prairie dogs, coatamundis, swans, meerkats, peacocks, porcupines, crowned cranes, yaks, rabbits, racoons, pine martens and the elusive Scottish wildcat.
In addition to the animals and birds which, of necessity, are behind fences or netting, there is a fair collection of various colourful varieties of hens wandering around everywhere. There is also a large indoor hatchery where small mammals and chicks are kept in warm conditions until they are big enough to go outside.
Within Auchingarrich there is an enclosed falconry area in which a number of raptors are put through their paces on a regular basis, to the delight of the audience.
Keeping the Kids Entertained
Young visitors are well catered for at Auchingarrich quite apart from the animals and birds. The activity area is quite extensive and well equipped and there are plenty seats around for parents to take a rest and admire the scenery!
Since the Scottish weather is not always blue skies and sunshine (and the wildlife centre is open all year from dawn to dusk), there is also a huge play barn with a real tractor, an all terrain vehicle, a sand pit and a wide selection of play equipment, plus children-sized houses based on the nursery rhyme "Three Little Pigs."
Fresh Air and Exercise
Within the wildlife centre there are plenty of areas where visitors can wander off into the countryside. There is a viewpoint, reached either by car or on foot where you can enjoy the surrounding area. There are rough and ready barbecues (made from half an oil drum) which seem to be well used.
For those looking for a longer hike, there is a sign-posted "Torlum Walk" of about eight miles, which starts and finishes in Auchingarrich (though you don't need to go all the way round the circular route). This wends its way through woodland full of wildlife and plants before emerging on a hilltop, with the woods spread out below.
Wildlife centres are a 20th century development but the one at Auchingarrich has a connection with the distant past in the form of a Pictish standing stone (pictured here) which was erected (like so many others in this part of Scotland) well over 1,000 years ago.
How to Get There
Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre is near Comrie in Perthshire. The main A85 road passes through Comrie from Crieff in the east or from Loch Earn in the west. If you are coming from the south, take the A9 trunk road to the junction with the A822 (signposted as the Tourist Route to Pitlochry). A few miles along that road, you can then follow the signs to Auchingarrich, which follow the B827 minor road or carry on to Crieff before going west to Comrie.
See also the Location Map (you can enlarge the scale of this map, if required).
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