Today we think we saw a Scottish wildcat. This is another very elusive creature whose population has been decimated over the past couple of hundred years. It is critically endangered and although it once roamed all of the UK it is now found only in northern and eastern Scotland.
If it is a Scottish wildcat then we are very privileged indeed. It was stalking a red squirrel. I’m going to upload these photos without resizing them so that people can zoom in if they want to. Usually, I resize photos for my blog to make pages faster to load so these photos are big and this post will be slower to load than usual. I’m sorry for this. Here are three photos. Two with the cat on the ground watching the squirrel on the tree trunk and a third with the cat on the trunk.
It was very tense. We were terrified for the squirrel and ended up making a loud noise that scared the cat away allowing the squirrel to get to a taller tree for safety. I then felt bad that we may have deprived the cat of its lunch so I put some of Victoria’s cat food outside for it. It’s a cat-eat squirrel world.
Scottish wildcats are bigger than domestic cats and their stripes are complete rather than broken up. They’re also fluffier and have a black tail tip. This cat fits all the descriptions. We also saw some cat paw prints in the snow nearby. They’re definitely not Victoria’s as we haven’t let her outside which is just as well as I think that wildcat would eat her for tea.
There’s a lovely historical hospital in Kingussie called St Vincent’s.
It was originally opened in 1901 as a sanitorium to treat tuberculosis patients. They used open-air methods of treatment which means patients slept outdoors in the freezing cold under a very rudimentary shelter. Now it is run by the wonderful NHS. If I ever need to go to the hospital I wouldn’t mind going to that one just as long as I don’t have to sleep outside.
Later we went for a walk to Loch Gynack. I was going to go for a swim in it but we forgot to take an ice-breaker with us.
The river Gynack which runs through Kingussie begins from this loch and is part of a micro-hydropower station. Although it only just started producing electricity over the last decade it revived an old hydropower scheme that was running here in the 1920s. You would never know it’s there if not for the informational signs because there’s been no damming of the river and it has a very low profile. There’s a good description of it here: Well-designed hydro schemes – Gynack.
Someone has decorated trees in the nearby forest for Christmas.
What a lovely little village Kingussie is. And if you’re wondering how to pronounce it, it’s “King-OO-ssie”.