Place To Un­leash Your Wild Side

Cam­per­down Park has a su­perb zoo... and much more

The Scots Magazine - - Focus On… Dundee -

WHAT links Dundee with the French rev­o­lu­tion­ary wars? Cam­per­down Park! Orig­i­nally known as Lundie, the es­tate was bought by Alexan­der Dun­can in 1682 and re­named by the son of Ad­mi­ral Adam Dun­can af­ter his fa­ther’s naval vic­tory over the Dutch at Cam­per­down in 1797 (for more on this, turn to page 124).

Cam­per­down House on the es­tate is the largest Greek re­vival style dwelling in Scot­land.

The es­tate was passed down through the gen­er­a­tions be­fore it was bought by the cor­po­ra­tion of Dundee in 1946. It was of­fi­cially opened to the pub­lic in 1949 and has been a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for fam­i­lies through the years for pic­nics or out­ings.

At 1.6 sq km (0.61 sq miles) it is the largest park in Dundee and a whole week­end can be spent there with­out do­ing any­thing twice. Take a wan­der in the grounds, feed the ducks and ad­mire over 190 species of tree. Or you might want to tee off on the park’s 18-hole golf course, which opened in 1959.

On en­ter­ing the park, a long sweep­ing drive­way takes you to the house it­self, with grassy slopes on ei­ther side that call out for a fam­ily pic­nic, kick­about or sim­ply a few hours laz­ing in the sun.

While the park of­fers you free­dom to roam, there are three fa­cil­i­ties that could tie you and your fam­ily down for quite some time. It has a net­work of paths and trails suit­able for jog­gers, cy­clists and horses, and Tem­ple­ton Woods, part of which is within the park’s con­fines, is a haven for wildlife.

“The park is in an in­ter­est­ing lo­ca­tion be­ing right on the edge of ur­ban Dundee as well as ad­ja­cent to the wilder ar­eas of Tem­ple­ton Woods and ru­ral An­gus,” says ranger Laura Lucas. “So there’s an over­lap of typ­i­cal ur­ban species along with some of our ‘wilder’ wildlife.

“Roe deer are bold enough to leave the con­fines of the woods and wan­der along the main drive and we have a good-size red squir­rel pop­u­la­tion. Bird-life in­cludes crows, jack­daws, jays and mag­pies, the last of which are a re­cent ar­rival. There is also wood­pi­geon, thrushes, black­birds, great tits, blue tits, chaffinch, dun­nock, wren, mal­lard ducks, oys­ter­catch­ers and many oth­ers.

“We’re also at the fore­front of the bat­tle be­tween red and rey squir­rels,” con­tin­ues Laura, “and I of­ten see both species bat­tling over nuts. But we have the sup­port of the Scot­tish Wildlife Trust’s Red Squir­rel Project to pro­tect red squir­rels here in Cam­per­down.”

The park’s Wildlife Cen­tre, which re­ceived its zoo li­cence in 2003, is home to more than 300 an­i­mals of 50 dif­fer­ent species, from don­keys and ot­ters to lemurs, wolves and owls – as well as Brum, Brumma and Maja, the cen­tre’s three Euro­pean brown bears.

The zoo is al­ways keen to ex­pand its pop­u­la­tion and re­cent ad­di­tions in­clude gib­bons, ocelot and meerkats.

The cen­tre is wheel­chair and pushchair friendly and its ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme al­lows schools, col­leges and pri­vate groups to learn about the an­i­mals through guides, lessons and ac­tiv­i­ties. You can even learn to be a zookeeper for the day.

Af­ter all that, a few min­utes’ walk takes you to the play fa­cil­i­ties, where adults can sit and re­lax while young­sters burn off en­ergy on tram­po­lines, kid­die cars, fun­fair rides, slides and climb­ing nets with a pi­rate theme.

The park and Wildlife Cen­tre are open all week, all year. Visit www.camper­down­wildlife­cen­tre.com

Cam­per­down House

Meerkats

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