Place To Unleash Your Wild Side
Camperdown Park has a superb zoo... and much more
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