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Aberdeen City & Shire

Leith Hall, Garden & Estate

Quirky historic home filled with curios from all over the world

Things to do

School visits

We welcome school visits at Leith Hall. For more information, please see our Learning pages.

Hire a venue

The house and grounds offer an intimate and magical setting for weddings, corporate events and private parties – please see our venue hire pages for more information.

Nature spotting

Fantastic five at Leith Hall, Garden & Estate

Leith Hall Estate has a diverse mosaic of mixed woodland, grassland, meadow and parkland. This biodiverse area is rich in protected and uncommon species. Here are our top wildlife picks to experience when out and about on our trails. Each has an ‘easy to see’ rating, a fun fact and a top tip for when and where to look.

Scottish wildcat

Without doubt, the most important visitor to Leith Hall is the Scottish wildcat, which roams extensively in the Clashindarroch area. Wildcats are an ‘edge’ species, who patrol the outsides of woodlands and fields to ambush their prey of rabbits, other small mammals or birds. The National Trust for Scotland is closely involved with wildcat conservation in Scotland and the Leith Hall area has long been a priority area. We are partners in Saving Wildcats, where the next phase of conservation is the reintroduction of wildcats from Edinburgh Zoo’s captive breeding programme. Wildcats have been caught on trail cameras on Leith Hall estate.

Fact: Wildcats are often night-hunters, meaning they’re tricky to see.

How easy is it to spot? DIFFICULT

Scottish wildcats may be present all year round, but in winter keep an eye out for their tracks in the snow.

A wildcat stands on a branch, high up in a tree.

Kingfisher

Keep watching the stream at Leith Hall, or at least the pond area, and you might be lucky enough to see a flash of blue. This will be the kingfisher. Photographers are known to wait patiently in sunshine and drizzle to picture these beautiful birds. If snapped, the resulting image can be stunning. These sparrow-sized, agile fishers have an orange and white head-stripe and an orange breast. Colourful indeed!

Fact: They nest in burrows in riverbanks.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Look for kingfishers in summer, perched on branches or flying low over the water.

A kingfisher flies up from a river with a fish in its beak. Droplets of water fall from its wings.

Otter

Seeing an otter is an unforgettable experience. Perhaps because they’re semi-nocturnal and they tend to hide underwater when we’re around, we feel privileged to get a glimpse of them. Otters are playful creatures, something in addition to their cute appearance that endears them to us. At Leith Hall they’re very much in evidence near the pond. Look for a slight movement on the water surface as they glide through it, ears flat on their head. Their eyes are set very high up on their head, so most of it can be underwater.

Fact: Otters eat frogs and small fish; in murky water, they can detect prey with their very sensitive whiskers.

How easy is it to spot? DIFFICULT
Otters are present all year round – look out on the bridge for their spraint (poo), which is distinctive with visible bones in it.

An otter sits on a grassy river bank, facing the camera so we can see its long whiskers. It has brown fur with a pale throat.

Teal

In winter, use the bird hide to view teal, which congregate on the small pond. Teal are shy ducks with a habit of flying almost vertically away from any disturbance. Because of this, the collective name for teal is a ‘spring’. In the mating season the male is particularly colourful with a green patch over his eye, outlined in yellow.

Fact: Winter birds may arrive here from Siberia, where conditions are too extreme.

How easy is it to spot? EASY
Teal can be seen on the pond in winter.

A small duck stands in a grassy field. It has a chestnut brown head with a green stripe over its eye. It has a plump grey body with a short black and white tail.

Badger

Badgers are the great excavators of the estate. They dig burrows called setts, which can be multi-level and complex. Badger cubs arrive in April/May and soon begin playing with their siblings and foraging for themselves. At this time, or even later in summer, it’s actually possible to see them in daylight. The striking white forehead stripe can make them difficult to spot in the undergrowth.

Fact: The badger is Britain’s largest land predator.

How easy is it to spot? MEDIUM
Badgers are present throughout the year and are most likely to be seen at dawn or dusk.

A large badger walks across a grassy clearing in woodland, towards the camera. Its black and white striped face is very clear. In the foreground is a pile of earth, possibly the entrance to its sett.

Walks here

Pond Walk

Difficulty
Easy
Distance
½ mile (0.8km)
Facilities
This is an all-abilities trail around the pond on a well-surfaced level path. A short detour along a grass path takes you to the bird hide with views over the upper pond. A further detour leads to the 19th-century ice house.

Craigfall Trail

Difficulty
Moderate (height climbed: 80m)
Distance
1¼ miles (2km)
Facilities
A steep grass path through woodland and farmland leads up Craigfall Hill to an impressive viewpoint with a seating area.