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The Scots Magazine - December 2017

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TV’s Scots geologist Iain Stewart
shares his incredible adventures
in an exclusive interview
The savage beauty
of our wildest season
DEC 2017
in the
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Welcome to...
Time For
Festive Fun!
T’S Christmas! The most wonderful time of the year.
That means, of course, that it’s winter – which for me is
definitely the most wonderful time of the year.
Many forecasters say we’re set for a bad winter. For
climbers a bad winter’s a good winter, so I hope they’re
right. When snow and ice come, Scotland’s hills become
mountains, and a stage for some great adventures. The
photo of me above was taken by my mate Andy on our
first day out this year – January 2 – in the Cairngorms.
It was every bit as cold as it looks and we were excited
for the months ahead. It proved a false dawn. Last winter
was a washout, quite literally. I don’t think I’ve
experienced a year with so little snow and ice. Winter had
a late rally in March, which gave a couple of decent
climbs, but that was pretty much it.
So, after a few lean years, it feels as if we’re due a
proper winter. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Consensus
is that climate change means our winters will eventually
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just be wet, like summer but colder. Indeed, for much of
the late 1990s that’s exactly how it was. People spoke of
the end of the Scottish skiing industry.
Then we had a series of really good (bad) winters,
including 2014 when we had the deepest snow in living
memory in parts of the Highlands.
Was that cold period an aberration? Or perhaps this
last warm, wet winter – and those of the late 90s – are the
aberration? Or is it all part of a longer climatic cycle too
large to measure in human lifespans? What I do know is if
climate change means future winters are like our last, we’ll
lose something many cherish and our outdoor arena will
be diminished.
I didn’t mean to end the year on such a glum note, so
I’d better wish you all a Merry Christmas.
And here’s to a good bad winter!
Follow us:
Digital editions
8 Great Scottish Journeys
Take a fabulous trip along
Fife’s lovely East Neuk coast
16 A Wee Blether…
With hilarious kilted
comedian Craig Hill
Christmas Is Magic
Fun for all the family at
Edinburgh’s one and only
winter MagicFest
Waste Not, Want Not
Edinburgh’s Remakery saves
resources – and old skills
Cameron’s Country
A personal profile of fellow
hill-lover Arthur Wainwright
A Living Time Capsule
A 19th century but ’n’ ben
has been lovingly restored
Polly’s People
A glimpse into the tough life
of an SSPCA inspector
Take A Hike
Enjoy the right to roam in
beautiful Glen Banvie
80 On Your Bike
Up and over the notorious
Devil’s Staircase, Glencoe
Park Campaign Update
A Borders National Park?
Centre Of Excellence
Glenmore Lodge celebrates
70 years of outdoor training
42 Underwater History
Great Gear Guide
The latest outdoor gear and
clothing reviewed for you
Carina’s Kitchen
Christmas cake is a festive
must for our star chef
Loch Tay’s Scottish Crannog
Centre helps unlock the
secrets of the past
48 Wild About Scotland
Nature expert Jim Crumley
celebrates midwinter
“ ”
No-one provokes me
with impunity
See a Jacobite banner
and other treasures
in Dundee’s
Word Of Th
et and
92 Slàinte Mhath
Your whisky expert
Euan Duguid’s
Hogmanay guide
This Month
96 Sound Of Scotland
Your music columnist LisaMarie Ferla lists exciting
debuts and future classics
Scottish Bookshelf
A Book Week Scotland
special – we chat to internet
sensation Estelle Maskame,
explore some of Scotland’s
forgotten authors, and bring
you the latest reviews
If You Do One Thing…
Take a walk on the wild side to discover hidden places
and enjoy the most wonderful adventures, page
If You Read One Thing…
Make it our exclusive interview
with Scotland’s “rock star”,
geologist Iain Stewart, page
If You Go One Place…
It’s got to be Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city, which is
gearing up for a cracker this Christmas, page
109 Around Scotland
The most exciting events
from across the country
Kenny MacAskill’s
Roots And Branches
The American Civil
War’s Scottish soldiers
In 1967, former Liberal
Democrat leader Menzies
“Ming” Campbell beat
O. J. Simpson in a 100m
sprint race at Stanford
University with a time of
10.2 seconds.
More amazing
Scottish facts
Cover Picture: JOHN MCSPORRAN: Sunrise on Beinn a' Chrulaiste, Glencoe
Eat, Sleep, Drink..
the Reviews
Profiling Scotland’s best
hotels and restaurants
December 2017
New series, Vol. 185,
No 12 First published
in 1739
Meet Your Writers
Keith Fergus
The renowned outdoor photographer and author
is a long-time contributor to The Scots Magazine.
Keith has written numerous guide and walking
books, but it’s his stunning work behind the
camera that he’s most known for. The latest
instalment in our Great Scottish Journeys series
sees him explore the wonderfully scenic East
Neuk of Fife. See page 8
Consumer Magazine
Editor of the Year 2016
Online Presence of the
Year 2016
PPA Scotland Magazine
Lifestyle Magazine of
the Year 2017
ACE Newspaper and
Magazine Awards
Best Twitter Feed 2016
The Drum Online Media
Consumer Magazine of
the Year 2016, 2015,
Consumer Magazine
Editor of the Year 2017,
2015, 2014
Online Presence of the
Year 2017, 2015, 2014
Front Cover of the Year
2017, 2015, 2014
Feature Writer of the
Year 2015
PPA Scotland Magazine
Dawn Geddes
Author, journalist and blogger, Dawn writes
features by day and young adult fiction by night.
Passionate about the literature and culture scene,
she loves delving into the stories of people in the
arts – past and present. This issue, Dawn marks
Book Week Scotland and brings you a cracking
Wee Blether with outstanding Scots comedian
Craig Hill. See page 16
Paul Cockburn
The Edinburgh-born-and-bred journalist has
worked in magazine publishing for several
decades. A well-known science, arts and
culture writer, Paul also has an interest in
Scottish social history. In this issue, he brings you
a fascinating feature on The Scottish Crannog
Centre at Loch Tay, now celebrating official
“museum status”. See page 42
Kenny MacAskill
The former Scottish Justice Minister and MSP is
an expert on the Scottish diaspora and co-author
of the book Global Scots – Voices From Afar,
which he wrote with friend and former First
Minister Henry McLeish. This month, Kenny
brings you the amazing tale of the Scots who
fought on both sides of the US Civil War and how
they’re remembered in Scotland. See page 112
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Great Scottish
Join Keith Fergus on a varied and enchanting trip
of discovery through the villages and along the
coastline of the East Neuk of Fife
Anstruther Harbour at dusk
“Fishing has been foremost over the centuries”
St Monans Windmill,, a relic
of the salt panning industry
ITH a fascinating history, a necklace of beautiful
beaches and breathtaking scenery, the sliver of
coastline between Lower Largo and St Andrews is an
exceptional part of Scotland.
Better known as the East Neuk of Fife, a number of
celebrated links golf courses, including The Old Course at St
Andrews, punctuate the landscape. Golf and tourism play a
major role in its economy today but it is fishing that has been
foremost over the centuries in the area’s development.
There are still some busy working harbours, particularly
at Crail, Anstruther and Pittenweem, but not to the same
extent as in the past – it is said that 50 years ago you could
walk from one side of Anstruther’s wide harbour to the
other by stepping from one fishing boat to the next.
Elie’s award-winning beach is a wonderful spot to
relax, while the East Neuk is rightly renowned for its
delicious fish suppers.
Words and pictures: KEITH FERGUS
Walking along West Sands,
St Andrews
The history of Crail
dates back to the
ninth century
Lower Largo’s lovely,
long sandy beach
St Andrews Cathedral, begun in
1160 and dedicated in 1318
Fact File
l Neuk is the old Scots word for corner. The East Neuk is the
name given to the landscape around Fife’s Eastern peninsula.
l Alexander Selkirk was born in Lower Largo in 1676. His
four years spent as a castaway on the uninhabited Juan
Fernandez Islands provided the author Daniel Defoe with
the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
l Anstruther is home to the superb Scottish Fisheries
Museum, which details the history of Scottish fishing from
earliest times to the present day.
l Crail was granted Royal Burgh status by Robert the Bruce
in 1310 as well as the right to hold markets on a Sunday.
l St Andrews hosts golf’s Open Championship every five
years. It is also home to the oldest university in Scotland and
the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world.
“History and a necklace of beautiful beaches”
13th century St Andrews Castle
Elie is an attractive village with
an award-winning beach
St Andrews Harbour at dusk
Next month: Join Keith as he explores the wonderful Caledonian Canal
We live in a fabulous country for adventures.
Share yours with our social media hashtag...
Sanna Dyker
@sannadyker October 15
Gathered up some treasures today.
Neil @wilderness_civilized
October 15
So it was a little stormier than my last
trip there in May, but Stac Pollaidh
never fails to deliver on the views.
Chloe Greenwood
@ChloeGwood October 18
@ScotsMagazine Just 2 weeks since I
completed my 1st Munro #BenNevis
with my Dad, now planning our next!
#OutAndAboutScotland #ScotSpirit
Ray Smith October 4
Ultimate room with a view. Enjoying the evening in Glencoe
The Scots Magazine Team Get Around Too!
Katrina conquered her fears,
donned oilskins and headed
underground for an afternoon of
caving in Assynt. This is one of the
calmer photos from the day...
Dotty and Eve went to the capital
for a day photographing the
wonderful food of our resident
chef Carina Contini. Check out
the fab results on page 90.
Craig (right) climbed Ben Bhraggie
with husband Derek for
Countryfile’s Children in Need
Ramble Challenge. Here they are
at the summit in their official hats!
Deirdre O’Donnell
@ODonnell24Dee Oct 18
Feeling on top of the world!
Majo Brenes
@mariabrene October
Scottish love. #outa
Andy Malby
@andymalby October 2
Stunning light descending Creag
Pitridh on Sat, heading for wildcamp
@EdYoungWalkers @ramblersscot
#OutAndAboutScotland #ScotSpirit
Ronald Stokes
October 15
Callander Bridge – a wee show of
Autumn at this historic Bridge
Jack Mitchell
@JackMitchellArt Oct 12
Out & about yesterday at the Little
Garve bridge #GetOutside
Mary Stewart
@marystewy_22 October 9
What a wonderful trip to the misty
mountains and sandy beaches of
Scotland! This shot is from the
Cairngorms after our stay in a bothy.
Share your #OutAndAboutScotland
pics with us on Twitter, Facebook
or Instagr am for a chance to be
featured next month!
Follow us…
The Scots Magazine
A Wee Blether With…
at Sydney
House was
a highlight
The comedian, who is
travelling around Scotland
with his Someone’s Gonna
Get Kilt! tour, tells us all…
What’s the song that’s currently
playing inside your head?
Benny Anderson’s The Day Before You
Came. He’s just released piano versions of a
lot of the ABBA songs and that track is just
perfect for that time of day when you want
to just chill and relax. We all need a bit of that!
Where did your fashion sense come from?
My first show at the Edinburgh Festival 18 years ago
was called Craig Hill’s Alive With The Sound of
Music. I wanted to copy the movie poster without
dressing up in drag as Julie Andrews! No-one wants to
see me do that! I decided the silhouette of me in a kilt
looked like Julie at the top of the mountain, so I went
with it! I ended up as the kilty comedian guy after that!
What has been the highlight of your career?
Just getting to be a comedian as a career is a highlight! But
my best moment would have to be performing at the
Sydney Opera House – I had to pinch myself. Growing
up on the other side of the world, I never imagined that
I’d even get to visit Australia, never mind being asked to
perform there!
If you could have dinner with five people, dead
or alive, who would you choose?
David Attenborough because he’s intelligent, charming
and sincere. Joanna Lumley, because who wouldn’t want
to hear that voice for a whole evening! Lorraine Kelly,
because she brings a wee bit of happiness to everyone she
meets. Helen Mirren because I think she’d like a wee
drink and wouldn’t take herself too seriously and I’d
also choose the fantastic Victoria Wood. She was one of
the best around. I’d like to stick in Julie Walters too, if
I’m allowed!
Craig’s fave
Do you enjoy performing?
Yes, I do. I’m very lucky. I’ve managed to
find something that I find really stimulating,
very challenging, really exciting and
exhilarating. It’s such a buzz when you’re
behind that curtain waiting to go on.
You were a hairdresser – do you miss it?
I was the kind of hairdresser that talked too
much, unsurprisingly! It was a great training for
stand-up comedy. You’re standing there gassing
away, sharing stories and there’s plenty of
camaraderie too. It’s like having an audience!
What’s your favourite film?
What’s Up, Doc? It’s an old 1970s film starring
Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal. Me and my friends
watch it loads of times but still laugh. It’s a classic comedy.
Does being Scottish influence your comedy?
We don’t like to take ourselves seriously and we’re always
encouraged not to be too up ourselves so that definitely
influences my comedy! I love how us Scots laugh our way
through most situations – it helps us get through life.
Which comedians do you admire?
Ross Noble who’s got a great imagination and Jason Byrne
because of his energy. Michael Redmond who delivers his
routines in this really chilled back way. I did a gig with an
Irish guy, Paul McDaniel, I’d never seen before. He was
brilliant – made me want to get out and see more comedy.
What’s next for Craig Hill?
I’m touring Scotland until March next year then over to
Australia to do the comedy festivals. I love touring and
as long as I’m performing, I’m happy.
FOCUS ON… Glasgow
Your fabulous 9-page guide to
Picture: ALAMY
having lots of festive fun in Scotland’s largest city
Festive fever in
George Square
FOCUS ON… Glasgow
Yuletide On
The Clyde
With continental markets and first class
entertainment, there’s much to savour
F you want to get caught up in the magic of Christmas,
Glasgow weaves a festive spell that’s hard to resist. Two
city centre squares, George and St Enoch’s, take on
spectacular Christmas colour and vibrancy that could
leave you intoxicated with the festive spirit.
The centrepiece of George Square will be a traditional
carousel and big wheel, mixed with a family-focused
street entertainment programme. If this isn’t enough, a
continental market will fill every available space.
St Enoch’s Square is market only, giving you a similar
wonderful variety of stalls to browse or buy.
In previous years M&D’s, the theme park in Strathclyde
Country Park, have only supplied the amusement side of
things, but this year they are taking on the whole package
and adding the market to their portfolio. M&D’s Sue
Taylor is confident of stepping up to the mark.
“The only pressure is to make it much better than
previous years, so we want to add different things that
weren’t previously there,” she says. “We wanted to
make sure that the traders are not just the people that
were there historically, but were the right people to bring
in. We are working night and day to make this the way
that we want it.
“There were a lot of comments on social media when
the people of Glasgow thought that the market was off this
All stalls will
be unique
year. From that, we were able to listen to what they
wanted, so we are working to try and exceed their
expectations and provide exactly that.
“We’ve got a policy where we’re not allowing two
traders with the same product. We’ve also got some
quirky food ideas.”
The quirkiness comes from an old Daimler van kitted
out to serve steampunk pizzas, and a Citroën van that will
serve fresh crêpes.
Sue is a bit of a foodie so organising the food side of
things was, to put it mildly, something to savour.
“People were sending me photos of what they could
supply and I’d say ‘Ooh, I can’t wait!’
“I believe we’ve sourced the best to suit all tastes.”
Christmas is all about fun and families, and Sue’s keen
to ensure both take precedence. “We realised that we
have to cater for adults only and families having a night
out, to allow both sets to enjoy themselves. There won’t
be alcohol available throughout the markets as there will
be some family-friendly area where kids can still enjoy the
atmosphere of the markets.”
“Continental” in fact means global, as marketeers will
assemble from all over the world. Turkey, France, South
America and, of course, Scotland will all be represented.
It has all the signs of a real gastronomic treat.
It’s a treat, too, for pubs, restaurants and hotels in
Glasgow who all benefit from the footfall these markets
generate. “I read some stats about a Christmas market in
Kent that listed 100,000 visitors,” says Sue. “The stats for
Glasgow are a million. That is very, very impressive!”
We were able to
listen to what the
people wanted
On Your Marks! Get Set! Go, Ho, Ho!
AST year around 7500 took part in the annual 5k Santa
Dash around the streets of Glasgow. Since this fun run
started in 2006, more than £200,000 has been raised for
nominated charities. This year’s beneficiary is the Beatson
Cancer Charity.
It takes place on December 10, starting and finishing at
George Square and taking in St Vincent Street, Finnieston
Street, Broomielaw, Oswald Street and Buchanan Street.
The dash starts at 10am but Santas have to be there for
9.30am, suited, booted and bearded!
Santa suits can be bought and collected from the
St Enoch Centre prior to the race, £5 for children, £15 for
adults. There’s only one strict rule – no reindeer! For
registration details go to ��
FOCUS ON… Glasgow
Time For A Tea Break
Sometimes only a brew will do – just as well Glasgow has some
of the country’s finest tearooms. We’ve picked fve of the best…
The Corinthian Club
Situated on Ingram Street, this imposing building
stands on the site of the 18th century Virginia
Mansion. Afternoon tea is served in the Teller’s
Brasserie, of which the focal point – apart from
the delicious selection of cakes and sandwiches
The Willow Tearooms
There are two in the city centre, one
in Buchanan Street and another within
Watt Brothers Store in Sauchiehall
Street. Both are modelled on Kate
Cranston’s Ingram Street tearooms
from the 1900s. Cranston’s brother
Stuart, a tea merchant, is credited for
opening the first tearoom in Glasgow.
This inspired Kate to set up in
business herself. A delicious cup of tea
is guaranteed, amid décor inspired by
the city’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
– is the iconic Corinthian dome. In the 1920s,
the building was converted into judiciary courts
and what is now the Brasserie was once the
route to the court cells. Afternoon tea is served
every day from 12pm to 4pm.
The Butterfly And The Pig
An unlikely match in real life, and the theme
is continued throughout this Bath Street
tearoom. The cutlery doesn’t match, no two
plates are the same and the crusts on the
sandwiches aren’t in a perfect line. This
lovely individuality is continued in its
selection of teas, including flavours such as
popcorn and chocolate mint. The tearoom
shares a 180-year-old building with a bar,
restaurant and nightclub; it’s not unusual
for Pig staff to swap a teaset for a DJ set
after the tearoom closes and dance away
the night!
But If You Fancy
Cuptea Lounge
A short walk from either Queen Street
or Central stations will take you to the
corner of West Regent Street and
Renfield Street. The Cuptea Lounge
provide morning tea as well as
afternoon tea, and it really is a family
affair. As well as an adult menu, they
also provide teenagers’ afternoon tea
and one for children. Mums and dads
can add a glass of prosecco, premium
champagne or a cocktail but if your
teenage son or daughter feels left out,
a delicious mocktail is available. As
well as a selection of traditional teas,
Cuptea have their own brand, Ambr
tea which comes in 48 different blends.
Hidden Lane Tearoom
This is a tale of two Kirstys, started by
Kirsty Fitzgerald and continued by
Kirsty Webb. The second worked for
the first before Kirsty F decided to
move on in 2014. Kirsty W took over
and the tearoom was recently voted
Scotland’s second best. Kirsty offers a
huge range of loose teas plus guest teas
that change regularly. Her scones with
clotted cream are the toast of Argyle
Court, just off Argyll Street.
The eclectic
of The
And The Pig
THEN the Glasgow Wine
School is for you! Wine is Justin
Hoy’s passion, and after a
successful 20 years in the South
African wine trade he returned
to Scotland in 2013 to take over
the Wine School which is part
of a nationwide franchise. Justin
gives talks and presents tastings,
keen to share the story of wine.
“The main idea of the school
is fun, interactive, educational
wine tastings,” he says. “One of
the most popular is Posh versus
Plonk tastings. All the wines of
the world are explored, and we
also run food and wine tastings
like cheese and wine, but also
fish and chips and bubbly.
“Tastings take place at least
once a week, focusing on
anything from particular
countries to grape types and
different styles. Once a month
we run all-day Saturday tastings
where 12 wines from around
the world are sampled. We can
also cater for corporate events,
from 10 to 100 guests.” ��
FOCUS ON… Glasgow
Does It!
Learning the ropes with Spinal
Chord trapeze school
HEN the Editor asked me to participate in
Spinal Chord’s beginners’ trapeze class I
thought, why not? It wasn’t until I got to the
Firhill Sports Complex that my nerves started playing up
and I thought Why on earth am I doing this?
For the glory of the magazine, I realised, so I changed
into a tracksuit and joined the rest. The first thing I did was
raise the average age of the class significantly!
The class was taken by Spinal Chord director Rodolfo
Rivas Franco, a Columbian now domiciled in Glasgow.
He’s been performing acrobatics since the age of six. If it
weren’t been for his patience, advice and physical help, I
wouldn’t have managed half of what I eventually achieved.
It looked quite simple, but trap-easy it’s not! With the
trapeze bar just above head height, all I had to do was grab
the ropes and swing my legs up and over the bar. With
my body not as supple as it was 10 years ago – or 20 or
30 – it took a huge strain from me and much pushing from
Rodolfo before I sat, budgie-like, on my perch. Then I had
to reverse the procedure – with similar mutterings, buckets
of sweat and with my shoulder muscles crying out “Stop!”
Then I could pause for breath and watch how it should
be done, by a lithe and athletic foursome of youngsters.
Rodolfo seemed genuinely pleased with my efforts.
No hands!
Rodolfo shows how
easy it can be
Next, the rope. Picture marines swarming up a rope like a
bunch of squirrels. Then picture me hanging there like a
sloth, trying to move a centimetre upwards. As Rodolfo
was quick to point out, technique is the key.
“Some people learn very quickly and have the ability
and co-ordination required for aerial work,” he says. “It was
different over 20 years ago when movement activities as
hobbies were considered a luxury, but now both children
and adults are aware of the benefits of being active.
“It’s more common that when someone arrives to our
With Rodolfo’s aid
I achieved nearly
all I was asked
It’s Not Who
But Where!
IN 1963, when the TV series Doctor Who
began, there were hundreds of blue police
call boxes dotted all over the UK, in which
the public could phone the police if
something was not right.
Of the 11 boxes that remain in the UK,
four can be foun d in Glasgow. These were
built in pre-cast reinforced concrete with a
wooden door, most often made of teak.
The boxes were immortalised as the Tardis,
the Doctor’s time machine, but ironically time
marches on and they have more less
disappeared from sight, either consigned to a
museum display or in the possession of a
Glasgow is one city that has preserved a
handful of Tardis police boxes. Some have
been turned into coffee venues, others
simply restored as an echo of an icon ic TV
time machine.
You can in dulge yourself in a Tardis tour
as the boxes are all centrally located –
Buchanan Street, Cathedral Square, Wilson
Street and Great Western Road beside the
Botanic Gardens.
Anyone for a
classes that they have already done dance or gymnastics
or simply had a very active childhood.”
Well I had a pretty active childhood, but I suspect he
was meaning more recently!
Given an other dozen or so classes, I might have made
progress. Similarly with the silks, which you wind your foot
and legs round so they bear your weight. I was given the
chance to try the splits, but didn’t fancy spending the night
in Glasgow Royal Infirmary after doing myself a mischief.
Rodolfo and his team have a pretty smart set-up there
and if they’re not coaching, they’re out demonstrating the
art of aerial trapeze and acrobatics.
I was pretty sore and stiff the following day, after using
muscles I didn’t know existed. That soon wore off. What
hasn’t worn off is the knowledge that I did nearly
everything that was asked of me in my one-hour session.
It’s worth a try, and Rodolfo offers classes for all the
family, and all fitness levels. Grandfathers included! ��
FOCUS ON… Glasgow
Jurys Inn, Jamaica Street, 0141 314 4800. 4-star hotel
within a 10-minute walk from both Queen Street and
Central stations.
Jurys Inn
Blythswood Square, 0141 248 8888. Georgian building
overlooking peaceful gardens in central location. Large
Hotel Manager of the Year in 2017 Scottish Hotel Awards.
Number 52 Charlotte Street, 07414 832832. Serviced
apartments in Robert Adam-designed building, available
nightly or weekly.
Alba Hostel Glasgow, Anniesland, 0141 334 2952.
Victorian building offering good-quality budget
accommodation. Private or shared rooms available.
The Acorn Hotel, Elderslie Road, 0141 332 6556. Near
Kelvingrove Park and the underground to city centre.
Six by Nico, Finnieston, 0141 334 5661.
New six-course tasting devised every six
weeks, themed on a different place or
TheTall Ship beside
the Riverside Museum
Café Fame, Hope Street, 0141 258 3838.
Popular lunchtime haunt, a finalist in the 2017
Scottish Italian Awards Best Deli/Café category.
The Ubiquitous Chip, Ashton Lane, 0141
334 5007. Known as “The Chip”, it was
opened by Ronnie Clydesdale in 1971.
Rogano, Exchange Place, 0141 248 4055. Art
Deco Glasgow icon and the oldest surviving
restaurant in the city, dating back to 1935.
The Tall Ship at Riverside, Pointhouse Place, 0141 357 3699.
Visit the barque Glenlee, one of five Clyde-built ships still afloat.
Oran Mor, Byres Road, 0141 357 6200. Arts centre famous for its
Play, Pie and a Pint performances.
Holmwood House, Netherlee Road, Cathcart, 0141 571 0184.
Elaborate residential villa opened in 1858 which still retains its
original décor. Owned by the National Trust for Scotland.
House For An Art Lover, Bellahouston Park, 0141 353 4770.
Country house, arts centre and cafe, built from designs by Charles
Rennie Mackintosh.
Fine cuisine
at Rogano
Escape Glasgow, Baltic Chambers, Wellington Street, 07584
047234. Try to escape from a locked room in 60 minutes!
● For an online Follow-up Focus, go to
La Vita Pizzeria, Queen Street, 0141 248
3533. Excellent Italian food, served on three
levels. Ideal for bite to eat before catching train
at Queen Street.
Kevin Quantum
feels the force
Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre
hosts the second Christmas
A Magical A
S if Edinburgh, the festival city, didn’t have enough
to boast about, it can claim to be the only UK city
to hold a magic festival at Christmas.
MagicFest was founded in 2010 by the husband and
wife team of Kevin and Svetlana McMahon, and since
then they have produced regular summer magic festivals.
Last year, however, they decided to run a further
festival at Christmas – and such was its success, they had
no hesitation in repeating the format this year.
“It is quite a rare festival because it’s not funded by any
of the main funding bodies,” says Kevin, a professional
magician who goes under the stage name of Kevin
Quantum. “We try and run it as a business as best we
can, but we have to make certain concessions in areas
that maybe sometimes you wouldn’t have to if you
were funded every year.
“We make it work through love and sheer force of will.
“That means we do it all – scripting, administration,
booking, marketing, organising and performing. It’s more
a way of life, and not a career.
“We source magicians from all over the world. I travel
a lot and when you are on the circuit you see many acts
from other parts of the world. Magic festivals and magic
conventions are industry events – we go to all of these and
you always get inundated with magicians who are
proactive by pressing you into asking them to join you.”
Kevin stumbled into the magic profession more or less
by accident. When he was a research scientist doing a
physics PhD, he took part in an episode of Channel 4’s
Faking It, which took someone from one job and trained
them in four weeks in one they had never done before.
Now there’s no faking – it’s all real.
“That was 12 years ago and it really changed my life. It
was a real abracadabra moment, and since then magic
has been my life, both in performing and promoting.
However, I couldn’t do it without Svetlana. She’s the
brains behind the operation.”
Audiences of all ages are invited to attend MagicFest’s
The Secret Gift Christmas Special and enjoy performances
from five magicians. Kevin will be joined on stage by two
performers from Spain – David Blanco, aka The Honest
Is it Heath
Robinson? No,
Señor Perez
David Blanco
magical drama with
Chris de Rosa
Deceiver, and Señor Perez. For Perez, think Christmas
bubbles, not baubles as he combines bubbles, smoke and
magic for a demonstration that will delight the senses.
The two other UK representatives are Chris de Rosa,
The Grand Illusionist, and magician Neil Kelso.
“There will be a pantomime feel,” continues Kevin,
“with audience participation but it will be more magic
than a story. There’s magic for adults and there’s magic for
kids. However, this will embrace both worlds and be very
much a family show. And we are going to extend that
magical feeling of Christmas for a few more days. Who
says magic should finish on December 25?”
The show moves from its venue last year at an
Edinburgh university campus to the more central Traverse
Theatre, just off the city’s Lothian Road.
“We came to the table quite late last year but this year
we’ve given ourselves more of a chance to organise things.
Moving to the Traverse, one of my favourite Edinburgh
theatres, will help a lot as it is more central.”
The Traverse is only a stone’s throw from Princes Street
where the main focus on Edinburgh’s festive celebrations
take place.
“We’re knocking on the door of Edinburgh’s
Christmas,” says Kevin. “One day, they might let us in!”
MagicFest Christmas runs in the Traverse Theatre,
Cambridge Street, Edinburgh, from December 27-30.
For more information go to
Getting Boulder
By The Minute!
Professor Iain Stewart is a different sort of rock star...
NTREPID and fearless – that just about sums up
Scotland’s superstar geologist Iain Stewart. His exploits
in the field have seen him dubbed “the James Bond of
geology” as he wouldn’t think twice about exploring the
deepest subterranean cave or abseiling into the mouth
of an active volcano.
“I don’t know any geologist who hasn’t gone to a
volcano and wanted it to erupt,” he says, “even though
it could be bad news.
“There is always that hint of danger to these places,
as they’re never entirely predictable. That’s kind of a
good thing. You want it to be like slightly on the
dangerous edge, but within reason. You’re always taking
calculated risks.”
While East Kilbride-born Iain has flirted with danger
in many parts of the world, his nearest brush with death
was closer to home. A warehouse in Govan, to be exact.
“I was doing an experiment and I nearly put myself in
front of a wrecking ball which was very stupid of me,”
he says. “It was entirely my fault. It would have been
ironic after surviving at all these dangerous places and
surrounded by earthquakes and volcanoes and then
dying in Govan.
“When you are in dangerous places, you are really
risk conscious so that’s not really where the mistakes
happen. It’s when you relax after coming out of
these places that you might come a cropper, like
tripping over a kerbside or something.”
For the past 15 years, Iain has been the
public face of geology on TV. His
appearance on the 2002 BBC Horizon programme
about the 373BC earthquake and tidal wave destruction
of the Greek city of Helike started a series of TV
appearances. These included Journeys From The Centre
of the Earth, Earth: The Power of the Planet, Making
Scotland’s Landscape and Men Of Rock, which focused
on scientists working in Scotland who pioneered
geological research and understanding.
How To Grow A Planet was a programme in which
Iain spent 48 hours in a sealed box to see if oxygen from
plants could keep him alive. Not many presenters would
go to these lengths just to prove how important plants
are. That’s his daredevil James Bond side again.
Although risk-taking is part and parcel of his career as
a geologist, studying geology at school was a safe bet – it
was one of the subjects he liked the most. Although a
career on stage did beckon at one time. As a holder of a
junior equity card he rubbed shoulders with a number of
future TV stars, including John Hannah.
“I was only in a couple of shows alongside
him,” says Iain. “But he then went to the
adult course at the Royal Scottish
Academy of Music and Drama
and it kind of took off from ��
Iain at Victoria
Falls, Zambia
Top: Sealed in a box with plants
Left: Making Scotland’s Landscape
Above: In his youth, Iain was in
plays alongside John Hannah
I’m interested in tackling big global issues
like climate change and natural disasters
there, really. However, I think my acting experience has
helped because when you lecture, the performance habit
kicks in. In a way I’m still acting – and getting a regular
salary from it while some of my old acting pals aren’t.
“When delivering a lecture, the presentation is as
important as the content. If you can enthuse people about
the content by packaging it in an interesting way, then
they will go off and they will read about it and they will go
into the library and follow it up.
“If you just dryly provide them with information they
will dutifully write it all down, and regurgitate it in an
exam but actually they haven’t really embedded it.”
However, 2018 will see him concentrate more on the
academic side of things – which, he says, is like
performing on TV but with a captive audience. They can’t
switch him off or walk out of the room!
“I’m still putting forward ideas for television but the
difference at the moment is that I don’t need to be in
television,” he says. “If it’s an interesting project then
maybe I’ll choose to do it. I’ve done it for 15 years now
so I don’t need it to do anything to justify myself, or
simply to feel good.
“I’m more interested in tackling some of these big
global issues like climate change and natural disasters. In
the past I’ve taken geoscience into the television world,
but what I’d like to do is take that sense of popular
communication back into the academic world.
“I’d like to get science across more effectively to those
people out there who need it – or who we feel need it.”
If volcanoes are part of his stock in trade now, it was a
volcano that gave him that final push towards a career in
geology. The aftermath of its eruption, to be exact.
“I was sitting my Highers in 1980 when Mount St
Helens, the volcano in Washington State, erupted,” recalls
Iain. “I then did a project on volcanoes so by then I was
hooked. Some go into geology through the fascination of
rocks and crystals, some – like me – through volcanoes.”
His education continued at Strathclyde University, ��
Iain’s job means he sees
some incredible sights
Erta Ale lava lake, Ethiopia
studying geography and geology, and he graduated in
1986 with an honours Bachelor of Science degree.
He then obtained is doctorate in 1990 at the University
of Bristol.
Teaching posts followed at West London Institute of
Higher Education and Brunel University, before he took
up his current post of Professor of Geoscience
Communication at the University of Plymouth in 2004.
If he ever needs an excuse to go back into the field,
there are plenty of opportunities only a few hours’ drive
from his home town of East Kilbride – the Highlands of
“Scotland’s blessed with rocks representing the whole
geological timescale, and go back to the very oldest ones
to the latest ones from the ice ages. There’s the whole
spectrum of the planet’s history crammed into this small
piece of real estate.”
Scotland has three Geoparks – North West Highlands,
Lochaber and Shetland. Should there be more?
“Yes and no,” says Iain. “There could be more because
we have so much fantastic geology. But in a country with
such a huge pedigree, it is ironic that the three parks are
struggling to survive.
“If they don’t, it would be a great tragedy for Scotland,
the home of geology, to lose out. Especially when
countries all around the world including China and South
America are pushing hard to develop their own.”
When he’s not delving into volcanos or delivering the
gospel of geology to his students, Iain shares his spare time
with wife Paola, whom he met on a geology field trip at
university, and teenage daughters Cara and Lauren.
Inevitably, the subject of geology crops up on occasion.
“When we go away to somewhere I find interesting
from a professional point of view, I call it a holiday but
the girls call it a geology lesson. They tend to be
geologised to death.
“I don’t know a geologist who isn’t so passionate
about his work that some of it doesn’t rub off at home.
But I realise it can become tedious. On some of our trips,
Paola would be fantastically pleased when we arrived but
would soon be saying ‘Why can’t we just go to the
“I’m sure the girls feel hard done by because they
haven’t been to places their friends have been to, like
Disneyland. Maybe it’s a rebellious thing against Dad but
Sharing his enthusiasm
on stage
At the lava flow from
Ol Doinyo Lengai,
In a country with such a huge pedigree, it is
ironic that our Geoparks are struggling
“Scotland’s three
Geoparks are struggling
to survive”
The Crystal Caves in Mexico
they’re showing no interest in geology.
“When I was away a lot, I’d come home and try to
reconnect with the kids. Sometimes that meant sitting
down and watching programmes like Made In Chelsea or
The Kardashians. Not my cup of tea at all as some of it’s
rubbish – but that was me trying to see what their world
was all about.”
Iain’s work has seen him travel to some of the world’s
wonders, places that are the geologist’s ultimate dream
and places that have left an indelible impression on him.
“I’ve been down the Crystal Caves in Mexico – that’s
an amazing place, 300m (984ft) below ground level.
“Another classic place is Erta Ale in Ethiopia, which is
a large lava lake in the back of beyond. You just sit and
watch the bubbling lava for hours. It’s magic!
“There are certain places I’ve not been to, but I can’t
really complain about that because of all the places I have
been to. I’ve never been to Alaska or Antarctica, and I
hadn’t been to Chile until earlier this year when I went to
a conference.
“I think if there are places you have always wanted to
visit, you shouldn’t try too hard to reach them. Imagine if
you’ve ticked off all the things that were on your bucket
list, what would you do then?”
I suspect that Iain wouldn’t have any problem finding
something to do. There must be many volcanoes he
hasn’t yet abseiled into, or some remote system of
caves he hasn’t got round to exploring. Once a rock star,
always a rock star.
F Iain’s fears were to be realised, three regions of
Scotland would lose some celebrity status in
geological circles.
Scotland’s geoparks are in the North West
Highlands, Shetland and Lochaber, and were
awarded that status by UNESCO in recognition of
an area outstanding geological heritage.
However, this heritage must be shown to
develop the local economies through tourism and
educational outreach.
Each has its own unique attractions and each
can boast rock formations going back hundreds of
millions of years. The North West Geopark includes
around 2000 square kilometre (772 square miles)
of mountain, peatland, beach, forest and coastline,
with a skyline like no other. The ridges of Foinaven
and the soaring peaks of Stac Pollaidh and Suilven
are a climber’s paradise.
The geology of Shetland has a different yet
equally impressive fascination. On the island of
Unst, you can walk across a landscape that has
hardly changed in over 10,000 years and the cliffs
at Eshaness, some of the tallest in the UK, are
perfect indications of Shetland’s volcanic past,
through which the Volcano Trail gives you a
fascinating insight.
Lochaber Geopark includes the UK’s highest
mountains, deepest lochs and stunning natural
beauty. In Glen Roy and Glen Spean you can see
the mysterious parallel lines on each side of the
glens once thought to be roads built by ancient
kings but which are, in fact, shorelines created
millions of years ago by ice-dammed lakes.
View from Stac Pollaidh,
North West Geopark
For more about Scotland’s three Geoparks, go to, and
Eight Museum Marvels
This month we visit Dundee’s McManus Galleries, formerly known
as the Albert Institute, to uncover the must-see exhibits within
HE McManus
celebrated its 150th
anniversary in
October and is one of
Dundee’s main tourist
Originally built as a
memorial to Queen
Victoria’s husband Albert, the museum was
re-named in 1984 in memory of Maurice
McManus, Lord Provost of Dundee from
1960 to 1967. It contains many displays that
mark the heritage of the city, including its
whaling and shipbuilding history.
We asked Billy Gartley (pictured above),
head of cultural services at Leisure and
Culture Dundee, to pick his favourite eight
objects and why they appeal so much to him.
Dundee Town Model
Says Billy, “The Dundee town model (pictured above) is
such a focal point in our Making of Modern Dundee
gallery. Visitors of all ages often spend quite some time at
this fantastic model of the mid-19th century city. Although
many of the buildings were demolished in the late 1800s
and early 1900s, it allows our visitors to orientate the
present city centre and Caird Hall with the city’s past.
“Depicting Dundee city centre around 1850, this model
was commissioned by the museum in the 1930s and
carved by Alexander Fair, with colouring completed by the
artist CGL Phillips. It shows the area of the Vault, the old
Town House and the old Overgate.”
“At The McManus, we are committed to actively collecting
across all the city’s collections, including contemporary artwork.
“Dundee-born artist David Batchelor was commissioned in 2009
through the National Collecting Scheme for Scotland, supported by
The Art Fund, The National Collecting Scheme for Scotland and The
Henry Moore Foundation. Waldella is situated in the new central
circulation core, a contemporary reworking of the building’s
impressive Victorian Grand Stair which was complemented by
stained glass panels,” says Billy.
“Here the stained glass is replaced by a large light work made
from 200 recycled plastic bottles and low energy lamps. Waldella,
Dundee has become one of the most iconic artworks associated with
the redeveloped McManus and one of my personal favourites.
“Our visitors seem to love the work too and it’s certainly one of
the most photographed works which is displayed to be seen across
three floors.”
“This arresting image is one
of my favourites from our
Victoria Gallery,” adds Billy.
“Disbanded is displayed in
the gallery’s nationallyimportant collection of
historic oil paintings. John
Pettie’s work, created more
than 100 years after the
Battle of Culloden, still
captures the imagination of
“Victorian artists like
Pettie helped create the
romantic image of the
kilted Highlander.
Disbanded refers to the
defeat and retreat of the
Jacobite clansmen.
“During our 150th
celebrations Calum Colvin,
head of contemporary art
practice at the University of
Dundee, has produced a
work inspired by John
Pettie’s Disbanded
exploring our nationhood
and national ambition.”
Dundee Burns
Club Banner
“This object was donated by present
members of the Burns Club in 2013.
The material had deteriorated
substantially and so the banner had to
undergo restoration by staff at The
McManus before going on public
display in 2014,” says Billy.
“Dating to 1880, this silk banner
was made for club members to carry
to the unveiling of the Burns statue in
Albert Square on October 16 that
year. It cost 50 shillings to produce.
“The reason I have chosen this is its
link with the history of the Albert
Institute. It is captured in a photograph
from 1880 of the unveiling of the
Burns Statue. This event was
reportedly attended by 20,000 and
demonstrated how much a focal point
of the cultural life The McManus has
been during its 150 years.”
“The bow is part of our
whaling collection, which is
recognised as of national
significance, “ Billy explains. “It
was found by Captain A.
Fairweather during a whaling
expedition to the Arctic Circle with
the ship Balaena, one of the most
famous whalers based in Dundee.
“He came across the remains of an
Inuit settlement in which all the
inhabitants had starved. Starvation of entire
villages was not uncommon in the area
since food was scarce in winter, and snow
and frozen water made it difficult to travel.
“The bow is strengthened with sinew and
would have likely been used for hunting as it is
similar to tho se used by tribes who hunted
bears, reindeer and game. Captain
Fairweather also found knives, a broken rifle
and a Dundee-made telescope in the village.”
Tay Bridge From
My Studio Window
“This is an iconic image familiar to Dundonians throughout the
world and a real favourite of visitors,” says Billy. “Tay Bridge
From My Studio Window was McIntosh Patrick’s first major
painting after the war and shows the view from the front of his
house including the Tay estuary and its railway bridge.
“His house The Shrubbery celebrates its 200th year this year
and we have worked with the present owner and local school
children to re-imagine the view for the 21st century.
“The artist painted the railings from memory, as they had
been removed as part of the war effort. His wife Janet stands at
the gate with Lulu, the dog, while their son rides a bicycle.
“It features in the current exhibition A Sense of Place: 20th
Century Scottish Painting, drawn from our fine art collection.”
Jacobite Colours
Says Billy, “One of only two Jacobite flags, this survived the
Battle of Culloden in 1746. It was carried by the 2nd Battalion of
Lord Ogilvy’s Forfarshire regiment during the Jacobite rising. After
defeat at Culloden they retreated to Glen Clova and disbanded.
“Other flags captured at Culloden were taken to Edinburgh
and burned. However Captain John Kinloch, who carried the
flag at Culloden, hid it at Logie House near Kirriemuir.
“It remained undiscovered until 1920 when it was donated
to the museum. The Latin motto reads Nemo Me Impune
Lacesset, translated as No one provokes me with impunity.
This fascinating link with our history is particularly delicate due
to its age and material. Our team limit its exposure to light.”
“This item is housed at present in our magnificent Collections Unit, just
along the road in Barrack Street. Narwhals are commonly thought to be
mythical creatures but they are actually real. These small whales live in
the Arctic and double-tusked narwhals are very rare. Narwhal tusks can
grow to 3m (10ft) and they were once passed off as unicorn horns
and sold for significant sums of money,” says Billy.
“This one is believed to have been donated by a
Dundee whaler. At any time, some 90% of the
city’s collections are in storage and this
object fascinated me when I first saw
it. Visits to our Collections Unit to
see this and other objects are part of
our regular tours, which are free and
can be booked at The McManus.”
Narwhal Skull
n Next Month: The Scottish Football Museum, Hampden Park
Living History
From Underwater
Travel back in time to some of Scotland’s
earliest desirable waterfront properties…
The Crannog Centre
on Loch Tay
OST people’s idea of an archaeologist is unlikely
to include diving gear, but Dr Nicholas Dixon
OBE would beg to disagree.
“Scotland has an immensely rich underwater heritage,”
he insists. “It is often with regret that I have concentrated
my efforts in the dark, peaty waters of Scotland’s fresh
waters with few opportunities to dive in the clear coastal
waters, but the richness of the lochs is a constant draw.”
Introduced to underwater archaeology while at the
University of St Andrews, that “richness” has inspired the
lifelong work of Nick and his wife, Barrie Andrian – the
research and exploration of the ancient dwellings, built on
artificial islands, called crannogs.
Found primarily across Scotland and Ireland, crannogs
vary in size, shape and construction – from timber to the
stony island duns of the Outer Hebrides – but all offer
glimpses of prehistoric times. Most remains can now only
be found underwater, often remarkably well preserved.
The Scottish Crannog Centre by Kenmore, Loch Tay,
in Perthshire, was established by Nick and Barrie 20 years
ago. They also set up the charity which runs it, the Scottish
Trust for Underwater Archaeology.
“We created the Trust late in 1988 to promote and
progress studies in underwater archaeology in Scotland,
with a particular focus on crannogs,” says Nick. “Since then
STUA surveys, excavations and student training projects
have been carried out across Scotland, looking at
crannogs, duns and coastal areas in the Western Isles,
Orkney and southwest Scotland.
“Primarily our work has focused in Perthshire,
long term vision
“is Our
for a museum
and field centre
contributing an underwater and shoreline element to the
Ben Lawers Historic Landscape Survey and a crannog
rangefinder dating project, Underwater Perthshire, funded
by Historic Scotland. Exceptional discoveries in Loch Tay
include a submerged woodland ranging from 8000-1500
years ago, and a beaver lodge dating to 4100 years ago.”
Their principal focus was on the Oakbank Crannog, at
Fearnan, Loch Tay. “Excavation revealed the remarkable
state of well-preserved structural remains and organic
material, vibrant colours, textures and tangible layers of
floor covering and other deposited material,” Nick
explains. “The superb preservation of structural, diet and
lifestyle remains inspired us to build a life-size crannog
roundhouse using the same type of timber and materials.”
Work began in 1994 and took two years. “With a
handful of volunteers and very little funding we set out to
answer many structural questions, to rediscover ancient
technology and ultimately to provide an educational
resource and platform for public archaeology.”
Opened to the public in 1997, the crannog continues
to provide useful information on long-term structural
performance. A visitor centre, opened three years later,
displays objects found in the original Oakbank Crannog,
including a foot plough, butter
dish, canoe paddles and a
swan neck-shaped pin.
“The Scottish Crannog
Centre has welcomed
500,000 visitors with a
‘hands-on’ living history
approach,” Barrie
continues. “Balancing
archaeology with education
and tourism, we collaborate
with heritage and other
organisations to
promote Scotland’s
past, embracing
Pictures: ALAMY
Making fire, one of the
skills visitors can learn
Dr Nicholas
Dixon OBE
What is a Crannog?
GIVEN that Scotland has 30,000 lochs, 10,000 river and stream systems
and more than two-thirds of the British coastline, it’s unsurprising that,
since the Early Iron Age, many inhabitants chose to live “on” water.
Crannogs are loch-dwellings built on man-made islands, and can
vary hugely in shape and size. There are at least 18 around Loch Tay,
ranging from 8m (26ft) to 80m (262ft) in diameter, suggesting specialist
functions or social structures. Sites across Scotland called Eilean Nan
Con, “Dog Island”, may have been kennels for hunting dogs.
Today crannogs are either tree-covered islands or still-submerged
stony mounds. Several hundred have been discovered across
Scotland, but only a few have been investigated.
initiatives such as Dig It! and Archaeology Scotland’s
Heritage Heroes programme.”
Visitors can try out prehistoric crafts and technologies
through a programme of hands-on demonstrations.
A more recent project is the Historic Environment
Scotland-funded Living On Water, in conjunction with the
Scottish Universities Environment Research Council and
other partners. This will develop a social history for Loch
Tay, focusing on crannog dwellers of 2500 years ago.
“It will combine state-of-the-art scientific techniques –
radiocarbon dating, stable isotope analysis and Bayesian
statistical modelling – with more traditional practices such
as underwater excavation and environmental analysis.”
Crannogs measured up to
80m (262ft) in diameter
The centre has also had a wider environmental impact.
“We initiated a woodland management programme
to coppice hazel in 2011-13 to help sustain the
recreated crannog,” adds Nick. “Grants were provided by
the then Rural Tayside Leader Programme in support of
rural tourism.
“Our long term vision is to create a new purpose-built
museum and field centre on the opposite side of the loch
adjacent to one of the 18 crannogs preserved in Loch Tay.
This will enable us to expand all aspects of our work and
to continue leading in best practice in heritage
interpretation and cultural tourism.”,
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Jim Crumley, Scotland’s leading wildlife author,
The squirrel
cleared the burn in
a single bound
writes exclusively for you every month...
In The
Even on the coldest, darkest
day there is much to see for
those who can fall into step
with Nature’s mood
INTER Solstice – the very words summon to
my mind an image of the darkest of dark
grey cloud hung about the mountains’ waists
on both sides of Loch Lubnaig, the height of Ben Ledi
unguessable from the depths of its frosted shadow, but
its aura – its very presence – magnified tenfold.
The lowest slopes wear a crust of bare oaks, some
of them of great age, a hint of how the land might have
looked before all this became the fiefdom of the
Forestry Commission’s Strathyre Forest. Beyond the
oaks and reaching into the clouds, is a smouldering
cloak of the commission’s default species, Sitka spruce.
Occasional patches of birch and swathes of larch
lighten the mountain’s tree burden.
I do not share the widespread conservation view
that the Sitka spruce is public enemy number one. It is
a handsome tree that suits the landscape well enough,
and it thrives here. A little more enlightenment in how
the forestry industry deploys it would go a long way to
improving the ecology and biodiversity of the Highlands.
I am fortunate to have been to Sitka in south-east
Alaska, where the spruces are the basis of a wild forest
in the company of hemlock, aspen, birch and willow,
which sustains wolf packs, bears, wolverines, beavers,
bald eagle nests every half mile or so, and more beside.
Should we be doing more to expand, enhance, ��
Wild About Scotland
recreate and restore native woodland cover? Yes, of
course we should. Should we also accept the Sitka spruce
as part of the mix, given that it has been with us since
David Douglas, the son of a Perthshire stonemason,
brought it back from North America the better part of 200
years ago? Yes, of course we should.
The best spruce-dominated forests also accommodate
larch and Scots pine, aspen, alder, willow, rowan and a
great deal of birch. These give homes to red squirrels, red
and roe deer, red fox, pine martens, beavers, otters and
birds from goldcrests and wrens to ospreys and sea eagles.
In the deep stillness of that particular frosted solstice
morning, the voice of a raven rebounded off the rocks of
the pass. The bird responded to its own echo, mixing up
the calls from its impressive vocabulary in a kind of vocal
perpetual motion. I wondered whether it had fooled itself
into thinking it was addressing another bird, or whether it
understood the concept of an echo and perched there
from time to time to play with it. I tend towards the latter,
because ravens are smart and work things out.
The voice stopped. The echo stopped. There was a
creaking rasp of wings. The raven flew directly over my
head, looking down, perhaps drawn towards the only
moving creature that shared its portion of the morning.
It circled twice, the blackest of black birds, darkened still
further by the mountain and mountainous cloud massed
behind it. Then it banked and flew low across the surface
of the loch’s south end. Its reflection glided upside-down
through the still water, matching the bird’s downstroke
with an upstroke, a vaguely hypnotic progress.
Just where the loch gave way to the river, where an
alder branch bowed low towards the white, turbulent
water then curved back upwards a yard into the air… just
at that lowest dip of the branch and inches above the spray,
there emerged a weirdly out-of-season sound: birdsong.
It is only weirdly out-of-season if you don’t know the
ways of dippers. For there is no season of the year, no
intensity of cold, no lash of wind or weight of downpour,
no blizzard, no fog, nor dazzle of midwinter sun… none
of these things can stifle the male dipper’s desire to sing.
Tiny icicles hung from the very branch where he sang,
icicles formed from the splashed spray of the river. The
dark browns of the bird, relieved by the white patch of his
breast feathers, and the thick grey cloak of the trees and
the bank behind him, and the greys and browns and
white froth of the river, all conspired to set off the silver
brilliance of his thin scatter of notes. It would hardly have
surprised me to see them freeze in mid-air and drop into
the river with minute silver splashes.
Instead, the singing stopped abruptly, the dipper
Otters thrive where Sitka
spruce is mixed with
other trees
from left:
Sitka spruce,
the irrepressible
dipper and
a red deer stag
tipped into a six-inch dive and vanished underwater. He
appeared seconds later by the far bank, swam a yard
through shallow water, stepped onto a rock and
proceeded to bash the living daylights out of a tiny fish by
hitting its head against the rock. Kingfishers use the same
technique, but they don’t introduce the killing with song.
The dipper crossed the river again, this time towards a
pyramid-shaped rock. He hit the water a yard from the
rock then travelled towards it more or less by walking on
water, which is neither as difficult nor as unusual as it
sounds if you have the dipper’s more or less limitless
repertoire of amphibious techniques at your disposal.
I watched him fish. The immersions often seemed too
long for comfort. After a dozen fruitless forays into the
river, he suddenly changed tack, flew from the rock in a
tight circle to where a natural bank-side canal slightly
● This year’s Winter Solstice, the shortest day
of the year, takes place on December 21. That
date in 1937 was when Disney’s Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs premiered.
higher than the mainstream ended in a tiny waterfall. It
had been behind the dipper when it perched on the rock.
What changed? Was he mysteriously alerted to the
presence of prey there? Or was the bird’s knowledge of its
territory so intimate that he knew the small ledge above
the pyramid rock was always worth exploring? He caught
and despatched several tiny fish within minutes.
Further up the loch, the north wind strengthened and
added its chill to the morning. Out in the middle of the
loch, a single cormorant was flying head-on to the blast,
just above the small waves which had mustered there. It
landed abruptly, executed something like a forward roll
that took it clear of the water in a curve, then dived deep.
Nature, I decided, deals differently with the cold than I do.
After two more miles of lochside, I turned uphill and
into the forest for a respite from the wind and for lunch. It
was like stepping into a hobbit-hole, and as you know
from the second sentence of chapter one of Tolkien’s
masterwork, that means comfort.
The wind was instantly snuffed out. There was no frost.
I was in a tiny clearing among oaks, themselves encircled
on three sides by spruces. The fourth side was the steep
bank I had just climbed; so close were the oaks at the top
of it that there was no view out to the loch or sky at all. I
sat on a small, level ledge sumptuously padded with moss,
part of a fallen tree trunk. The gathering of oaks was ��
Left: The
trunk of
the oak
rose from a
Right: There
were signs
of badgers
I found the overworld in a state of
defined to north and south by two tiny burns.
Every woodland has these secret places, though they are
only “secret” to travellers like you and me, for they are
frequented by many a forest dweller. Bullfinch, jay, wren,
chaffinch and red squirrel all visited in the hour I sat eating
a sandwich and drinking tea. By a burn I could see where
both badger and roe deer had paused to drink and dig.
I also puzzled over an oak tree with seven trunks. One
trunk was straight, erect and much thicker than the rest, a
girth of about five feet. The others leaned away from it at
various angles and in every direction. I reconstructed the
tree’s life in my mind as follows:
The single trunk prospered in a mild corner of the
forest, shielded from wind, its soil drained by the two
burns and enriched by leaf-litter and moss. With no wind
to scatter them its acorns simply fell below its canopy. Jay
and squirrel buried some. The moss which gathers in deep,
dense, lime-green cushions around the base of such an
oak tree also absorbed some, and these rooted eventually
in the same soil as the parent tree. These developed as
new trunks, and the naturally expanding girth of their
parent grew new layers of bark to embrace them. Thus,
the original trunk now emerged from a rather gruesomelooking swelling that accommodated all seven trunks.
My concentration was broken by the realisation that a
neighbouring oak to my left had grafted a red squirrel
onto its trunk about five feet off the ground. It was staring
at me from a limbs-akimbo posture, its tail straight up the
tree, its head facing down. It looked as if the owner of the
hobbit-hole had skinned and mounted it as a hunting
trophy, except that hobbits are above such things. Perhaps
the squirrel read my mind; it raced to ground, cleared the
burn in a single bound and vanished among the spruces.
When I stepped out of the hobbit-hole it was to find
the over-world in a state of transformation. The wind had
faded, the frost all but vanished, the sun had emerged
pallid and bleary-eyed, and the mountains across the loch
had begun to materialise as the clouds rose and frayed.
My mood rose too. I have been asked if I know any
tricks to lighten the burden of gloomy days. I don’t. My
way is to become nature myself to the best of my ability,
to become landscape, to immerse, whatever the mood.
When nature comes across as dark and introverted, I go
dark and introverted myself. The converse is also true.
My purpose in nature’s company is to write it down, all
of its colours and colourlessness, all its states of mind and
mindlessness. It seems to me I am at my most effective
when I fit in, whether a blue day of midsummer skylarks,
or the grey nadir of the winter solstice when only the
dipper sings.
The carol In The Bleak Midwinter is based on a
poem by Christina Rossetti. It was first set to music
in 1906 by Gustav Holst.
The word “solstice” comes from the Latin scientific
term solstitium. It contains the words sol ( the sun)
and sistere (to make stand).
Spruce is often used in construction, especially in
wooden aircraft. The Wright Brothers’ first aircraft,
Flyer, was made of spruce.
Sophie has global
Waste Not,
Want Not!
One woman has started a make do
and mend revolution that could
make Edinburgh a Zero Waste city
T’S the time of year when we’re all tempted to spend,
spend, spend – but an innovative social enterprise is
urging us to repair, recycle and re-use instead.
“We’re leading the way in Scotland’s repair
revolution,” says Sophie Unwin, founder and director of
Edinburgh Remakery, an award-winning social enterprise
in the heart of Leith which teaches repair skills and sells
recycled IT equipment and furniture.
“We want to transform the way people use and dispose
of resources, encourage manufacturers to build things that
last and can be fixed, and make sure there are facilities
where people can repair broken or damaged items.
“We don’t need this stream of shiny, new ‘stuff’,”
continues Sophie. “We need to stop throwing things away,
rediscover being thrifty and embrace make do and mend.”
The displays in the Remakery’s shop windows are
proof of its commitment to repair, recycle and re-use.
There’s a range of pine bedroom furniture, several
upcycled chairs in various eye-catching colours and
textiles, a selection of “pre-loved” laptops, and posters
advertising dressmaking, woodwork and upholstery
Happy Customer
“My computer was running very slowly and
getting too hot,” recalls Remakery customer
Joseph Gair. “I couldn’t really afford a new
one. Sotiris took it apart and cleaned it, while
telling me what each part did. It took about 20
minutes. My computer works much better now,
saving me money and resources.”
workshops, as well as one-to-one tuition in IT repairs.
“This is where people learn how to fix things and buy
things that have been fixed,” Sophie explains as she leads
me through to the woodwork workshop, where experts
give bashed or stained furniture a new lease of life.
“The Remakery isn’t about being crafty,” continues
Sophie. “It’s about continuing traditional skills that are on
the verge of being lost – everyday expertise like taking up
a hem, mending a broken table leg or making a rag rug.
“Our courses are very popular, with more than 1000
people learning repair skills with us this year.”
In keeping with the community-minded ethos, its
courses, workshops and repair services are charged on a
sliding scale or by donation, with Thursday evenings
featuring a free repair surgery for clothes and a free
drop-in clinic for broken computers, phones and laptops.
“We want to be accessible to everyone,” says Sophie.
“If you’re on a low income, as many of our neighbours
are, a broken zip on a pair of jeans can be a disaster – but
you can come here on a Thursday evening and not only
get the zip replaced, but learn how to replace it.”
Technicians Sotiris Katsimbas and Mario Di Filippo
help people fix computers, laptops and phones at
affordable prices. “The majority of computer problems are
simple to rectify, either by physically cleaning inside the
computer, running anti-virus software or downloading a
new driver – simple fixes which can extend the life of a ��
and bargains
at the
Nepal, in a year
less than a
dustbin of rubbish
computer by up to three years,” says Mario. “It’s great to
help people with seemingly unfixable problems.”
Partnerships and donations provide a regular supply of
furniture and IT equipment. “For example,” Sophie says,
“rather than pay to get rid of redundant computers,
Edinburgh University donates them to us. Sotiris and Mario
wipe the hard drives, fix faults and reload the operating
systems so we can sell them in the Remakery or on eBay.
We donate some refurbished computers and laptops to
local organisations working with refugees and immigrants.
“Most of our furniture comes from CHAI, a charity
which helps people coming out of homelessness. CHAI
has a furniture recycling service. They give any items they
don’t need or are damaged to us so we can repair them.”
As if on cue, the CHAI delivery lorry arrives and it’s all
hands on deck as Mario and Sotiris abandon the
computers they’re working on and start unloading.
Having started in 2011 with a £60 grant and three
employees, the Edinburgh Remakery now has seven
full-time staff, 20 volunteers and more than 10 regular
freelance tutors. “We still receive some grants but we’re
on target to be 80% self-financing by next year – and we
diverted over 200 tonnes of waste in 2017, contributing
towards Edinburgh becoming a Zero Waste city.”
Sophie started the Remakery after spending a year in a
remote village in Nepal. “I shared my home, which had no
electricity or water, with four other people. We lived as
simply as possible. We bought vegetables at the market,
unpackaged. Our stove worked on kerosene which came
in five-litre, refillable containers. We got milk from our
neighbour’s cow. If anything broke, we fixed it. In a year,
the five of us created less than a dustbin of rubbish.
“Returning to London, I was shocked by the crazy
amount of waste and set up a successful project in Brixton
where people paid to learn repair skills.”
Sophie moved to Edinburgh in 2011 when she was
offered a job. “I tried to stay involved with the Brixton
project but it was ridiculous so, in 2013, I started Remade
Edinburgh, the charity behind the Edinburgh Remakery.”
As a result of its success – Sophie was named UK Social
Entrepreneur of the Year 2016 – she is involved in
discussions about setting up similar repair and re-use
projects throughout Scotland and beyond.
“Lothian Council is considering opening a network of
repair centres in the Edinburgh area and I’m also talking to
organisations in Glasgow, Melrose, Perth and Mull,” says
Sophie. “It would be wonderful to have a national
network of repair centres based on our model – and, as
I’m going to New York in before Christmas to help them
set up Brooklyn Remakery, I’m hopeful this exciting
Scottish project will soon be a global initiative.”
Re-Use Boost
“The Edinburgh Remakery donated
six refurbished laptops to us,”
reveals Saad Ibrahim of The
Welcoming Association, a charity
which helps newcomers to
Edinburgh to settle in the city and
contribute to life in Scotland.
“These laptops were given to six
Syrian refugee women who attend
the English & IT class I hold every
Saturday morning. As the laptops
were relatively new models, I was
able to set them up so they could
display in either English or Arabic.
As a result, they have made a big
difference to the lives of these
women and their families.
“Having a computer at home
which displays both languages
helps these women to improve
their English and their computer
skills, while also enabling them to
do online shopping and keep in
touch with relatives and friends all
over the world – and they can also
watch movies from their own
country, which their families really
n ew buil d
r u r al
u r b an
co ast
A Living
Time Capsule
This 19th century home has been lovingly restored, writes Wendy Glass
OCATED high on a hillside overlooking Braemar and
uninhabited for almost 90 years, Downie’s Cottage
was on the verge of ruin when it was bought by Jackie
and Calum Innes in 2006.
“The cottage was sold with planning permission to
demolish it and build a new house,” says Jackie, who lives
with Calum in Blairgowrie. “That was our plan – until we
took a proper look at it.
“The cottage had lain empty since its previous resident,
James Downie, died in the 1930s. Everything was exactly
as he’d left it, apart from the ravages of time and a few
souvenir hunters.
“There were two rooms downstairs: the kitchen and
the parlour. A large wooden chimney flue – which we
now know is a ‘hanging lum’ and typical of 19th century
rural homes in the central Highlands – dominated the
kitchen, where there was also a box bed with a straw
mattress. There were personal belongings scattered across
A cosy stove…
… and sofa bed!
the stone floor and crumbling pieces of furniture – old
boots, clothing, cooking implements, Bibles, Victorian
Christmas cards, even a wedding invitation.
“Upstairs, the attic walls were completely covered by
illustrations from magazines and newspapers dating back
to the 1880s. There were two more box beds, each with a
shelf where the occupants had left behind trinkets,
including fragments of ribbon and a box of buttons.
“How could we possibly destroy a cottage with such a
strong sense of the past?”
The couple contacted Historic Scotland, who
described Downie’s Cottage as an exceptionally rare
example of a once-common building and awarded it
Grade A listed building status.
“Instead of planning our new, four-bedroom house,
we had to decide what to do with a near-derelict but ‘n’
ben,” says Jackie. The Grade A listing prohibited
alterations or replacing internal structures or fittings.
Sympathetic additions
n ew buil d
r ur al
u r b an
co ast
The cottage in 2006
The hanging lum
Modern comforts
photos of the cottage and the family when they lived here
– and two plates which were originally from the property.
“In the 1960s, the writer and poet Nan Shepherd
recalled a visit to Downie’s Cottage 40 years earlier. She
described looking throug h a window and seeing the box
bed and ‘The plate rack reaching to the roof’,” explains
Jackie. “The plate rack hasn’t survived but two plates
have. They’re now displayed on top of the fireplace.”
The restored cottage is currently a holiday home,
although Jackie and Calum spend as much time here as
possible. “Saving Downie’s Cottage involved a lot of time,
effort and money but it was a labour of love and, with the
help of everyone involved, including Historic Scotland, it’s
now luxurious, warm and welcoming,” says Jackie.
“And it’s very authentic – every time I walk through the
door, I get the feeling I’m going back in time.”
For more information about Downie’s Cottage, visit
Saved for posterity
The former parlour
“Everything had to be restored – from the flagstone
floor to the corrugated iron roof, which actually covers the
cottage’s original heather thatch. We were allowed to
make some concessions to modern living, such as
installing a bathroom, underfloor heating, electricity, WiFi
and a television, but they all had to be hidden away.”
After years of planning and renovations, the kitchen
has been transformed into a cosy living area, with the
hanging lum in pride of place and the original box bed
doubling up as a comfy sofa. The “good room” has
become the bedroom and the porch is a small kitchen.
“We’ve also turned the tiny back bedroom into a
bathroom, with a lovely wooden bath,” reveals Jackie.
However, taking the attic into the 21st century would
have destroyed its unique character and “wallpaper” so
Jackie and Callum have sealed off the upper floor to
protect and preserve it for future generations.
American descendants of James Downie have sent
A door to the past
For The Love
Of Animals
Polly Pullar
teams up
with SSPCA
Louise Seddon on a
round of sometimes
harrowing visits
COTLAND’S animal welfare charity, the
Scottish Society For The Prevention Of
Cruelty To Animals has come a long way
since its inception in 1839 with the remit of
safeguarding badly treated draught horses in the
urban environment.
Since then it has burgeoned into our most
important animal welfare organisation with a
vital role to play in a society that struggles with
the most basic needs of animals great and small,
from wildlife to farm livestock and domestic pets.
Louise works
It’s a dreich autumnal day – sodden leaves
to make a
tumbling down, the sky pregnant with clouds.
I am on the road with Scottish SPCA Inspector
Louise Seddon, whose husband Colin is the
manager of the society’s state-of-the-art wildlife
rescue centre at Fishcross, Clackmannanshire.
“It’s fair to say I have always been very keen
on animals and since childhood, have been
aware of the need to care properly for them at
all times. I have been doing this job now for 10
years and my aim is to ensure the best possible ��
close to death…
A case of
…this Staffie recovered
and is ready to rehome
outcome as swiftly and as efficiently as possible.
Sadly, that’s not always what happens.”
Before moving to Scotland, Louise was a
solicitor dealing with prosecutions for the RSPCA
in England so she is no stranger to the horrors of
animal welfare issues. “After many years in that
role I really felt I wanted to do something more
directly to make a difference.”
Her van is laden with equipmen t; travel
boxes for cats, dogs, rabbits other small
mammals or reptiles, thick gloves for dealing
with biters, plastic gloves, dog graspers, boots
and wet weather clothing, amid folders laden
with information relating to cases and the law,
and reams of contact numbers.
The advent of smartphones with sat nav
enables inspectors to dispense with maps and
make and receive hands-free calls as they
journey round the country.
As usual, Louise’s list for the day is long.
Our first call takes us to an ongoing saga. The
complaint is that the dog is rarely let out and
doesn’t know the joy of a proper walk. It has
become very overweight, but the situation is not
dire enough to warrant immediate removal.
Every case involves careful consideration
involving vets whose advice will always be
sought. The dog’s female owner is in a fragile
mental state, lives alone in squalor and should be
in a care home. However, first there is a
Munro-sized mountain of paperwork to climb
and everything must be done through the correct
channels. Then there are cutbacks.
The dog is also its owner’s only lifeline. It has
become very frustrated through lack of
stimulation and unsuitable diet. For Louise, this
case involves eternal calls to housing and social
services, often thwarted by answerphones.
Council departments are like overstretched
elastic; cases may drag on far longer as a result.
As the owner comes to the door, a powerful
stench from dog urine and faeces makes us reel
back. The owner flips between torrents of
swearing and pathetic friendliness. Her instability
and illness are blatant.
Louise has to handle every case carefully; each
is volatile. It is evident she has an extraordinary
knack for understanding immediately what is
required. In this case she soon has the un stable
owner on side, and there is discussion about the
dog’s diet as a bag of good quality dog food is
handed over. We chat for a while, inhaling
ammonia, before the door is shut once more.
The smell lingers as we drive away.
Our next visit also involves a dog. A
concerned neighbour has reported problems.
Louise checks her records. It’s not the first time
there have been complaints. No-one answers
the door, but a dog barks hysterically inside.
Eventually someone appears.
We enter a corridor strewn with washing,
shoes, rubbish and spewing ashtrays. A couple sit
on a massive sofa surrounded by detritus and
depression, watching a massive television screen.
The dog’s owner is out of work and cannot pay
for vet bills, but won’t give up the dog. Louise
gently explains the situation and various options.
A sad, dank mist swamps us all.
The terrier is very uncomfortable with a skin
problem. A notice is served, the dog will be
taken to a vet and Louise will return to check
and will act accordingly.
For every pound raised by the SSPCA, 81
pence goes directly towards animal welfare.
The rest pays for promotion and administration.
Last year, in 2016, the society found homes for
5806 rescued animals and helped with more
than 9000 animal casualties.
The SSPCA is one of 35 animal welfare groups
in the UK. Others include Hounds for Heroes
and the Retired Greyhound Trust.
There are horses to see, too. An owner
previously banned from keeping equines has
acquired more. A lesson does not appear to
have been learned and the unfortunate ponies
are being kept on a handkerchief-sized piece of
land with little shelter or grass amid barbed wire,
plastic sacks, old bathtubs and toilet bowls,
everything held together with baler twine.
Given our endless wet weather it will shortly
be a quagmire. One pony is already thin. Louise
is unhappy and takes further notes before trying
to contact the owner. This case will continue.
There are frequent reports of abandonment,
something not always easy to prove. At properties
where animals are left inside, Louise checks to
see if someone is returning to feed them. We
visit a flat to collect cats for rehoming. However
despite agreeing to be in, the owner has fled.
More frustration. Nothing happens in a hurry.
Louise shows me images of various dogs and
ponies, and tells me heart-breaking and
disturbing stories relating to each. There are dogs
that are merely bones and skin, a collie that
weighed an astonishing 70kg (154lb), a dog with
such long claws it could not stand, another that
was beaten by its owner, suffocated and then
put in a hole, and horses that cannot walk due to
curled-up hooves. There are also remarkable
stories of recovery and successful rehoming. ��
Guinea pigs
are often
Another call comes in. There’s a light
moment as Louise shows me the remit from the
call centre operator, a description of the situation
and then the words: Owner seems drunk.
On arrival we find the owner indeed heavily
under the influence but there’s nothing wrong
with the cheery, fit-looking little dog other than
perhaps his randy behaviour in the park
upsetting someone. “I think I need to get his ba’s
aff,” the owner slurs amid his haze of fumes.
Louise tells him this is an excellent idea and gives
him the vet’s details.
Despite the allegations there appears to be
nothing wrong. Calls like this are often a result of
neighbour disputes, but all must be investigated.
Louise has a similar call later and another happy,
healthy dog greets us at the door. The person
tells us he is transgender, the subject of continual
victimisation, and on anti-depressants.
Louise, who is also a key player for the charity
British Hen Welfare Trust, responsible for
rehoming thousands of ex-caged commercial
hens every year, tells me she finds the situation
People don’t
understand rabbits
actually eat grass
with domestic rabbits often very difficult.
“People buy a rabbit and don’t understand its
basic needs, like they actually eat grass. Some are
kept alone in a hutch where the rabbit can do
one hop, maybe two, in each direction. The
rabbit has nothing to do, gets obese on pelleted
food and does not really have any quality of life.
The Scottish SPCA’s rehoming centres are full of
rabbits and cats. Staffies make up a huge
proportion of dogs awaiting a new owner.”
Many investigations involve farm livestock,
most with allegations of cruelty, neglect or
abandonment. In some cases where animals are
in imminent danger or their environment is
deemed totally unsuitable, they may be
immediately removed.
Many Scottish SPCA inspectors cover huge
areas. Each has their own approach to the
growing number of cases and must be adaptable
and resilient. They often go to court to give vital
evidence, first completing endless paperwork
ensuring there are no legal loopholes open.
“I never know what I am going to face. This
to me is not a job, it’s a way of life, and though I
witness many harrowing things, I enjoy my work
and hope that it does indeed make a
difference,” says Louise
The remit of the Scottish SPCA continues to
grow and as we enter more straitened times
there is no doubt more animals will become
victims. To that end the Scottish SPCA deserve
all the support we can give them.
feral kittens
must be
caught and
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pictures from Glasgow’s past
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Get out there and try something new...
The Falls Of Bruar are Nick Drain ey’s destin ation in Take A Hike – turn to page 68
◆ Glenmore Lodge p70 ◆ Cameron McNeish p74 ◆ On Your Bike p80 ◆ Gear Review p85
Picture: ALAMY
Take A Hike
Rights And Wrongs
Nick Drainey mulls over land ownership on a walk up Glen Banvie
Length: 16km (10 miles)
Height gained: 305m
Time: 5 hours.
OS Landranger 43.
Parking: Turn off the main
road in Blair Atholl opposite
the Bridge of Tilt Hotel to
follow a sign to Old Blair.
After just about 0.8km go
left, again towards Old Blair.
There is a car park a few
hundred metres further on.
The beautiful
Falls of Bruar
COTLAND’S scenery attracts visitors from across the
world, with many relishing the broad access we
almost take for granted.
On a local level the Community Right to Buy legislation
has been used to allow groups to manage the land where
they live, rather than relying on the laird in his big house.
Some lairds have given over their land while others have
moved on from a Victorian-style business model of
hunting , shooting and fishing to also offer activities as
diverse as mountain biking, zip wires and study centres.
Earlier this year the Scottish Land Commission began a
study into who owns the land and how it affects those that
live on it. In 18 months a report will be published, followed
no doubt by debate, clarification, U-turns and mudslinging, hopefully not literal. The Scottish Government
has said it would like land ownership to be diluted.
While it’s important we know who owns the land, and
astonishing that no government in Holyrood or Westminster
has ever been able to say who does with absolute clarity,
surely the most important issue is how it is used.
A walk up Glen Banvie takes you through the heart of
Atholl Estates, a modern enterprise which allows good
access. It is on this land that the Scottish Rights of Way &
Access Society has its origins. It also employs many people
in its businesses, including Blair Castle, a caravan park,
farming, field and hydro-electricity.
The “laird” – Bruce Murray, 12th Duke of Atholl – lives
mainly in South Africa, where he was born. Some don’t
like the idea of foreign ownership but the point should be
about the conduct of the person or organisation.
For the walker going past The Whim, an 18th-century
folly, or across the moorland higher up Glen Banvie,
which stretches for miles, leading to the distant Munro of
Beinn Dearg, the owner does not matter, unless they are
Nick’s Top Tip...
A simple but effective tactic
when going down very steep
ground, especially when it is
rough or wet, is to place your
feet sideways to reduce the
risk of slipping.
The Whim – free to
access on, well, a whim!
Grid references: Start/
Finish: NN874663
Point 2: NN826697
Point 3: NN826666
Point 4: NN821666
Point 5: NN821669
Point 6: NN819669
Point 7: NN818664
Point 8: NN821666
Point 9: NN846663
Point 10: NN843661
Point 11: NN863666
Point 12: NN864664
Point 13: NN868667
Next month’s walk goes up Meall Buidhe above Glen Lyon. A great Munro for winter when the days are short
but there is still an urge to get up high and enjoy superb views. Don’t miss it in January’s Scots Magazine!
Pictures: ALAMY
stopping access. After descending to the Falls of Bruar and
the spectacular sight of water cascading down the rocks,
farmland is reached, again with good access across it – any
frisky bullocks are kept off paths, behind well-built fences.
Much land ownership debate seems to imply that
community ownership is always better and should be
striven for. Without a Mugabe-style land grab which
would be politically and legally disastrous, this argument
needs to be developed in a more sophisticated way than
a choice between “right” and “wrong”.
Community ownership has seen great success – but so
too has estate management. We as a country have
decided we have a right to roam and a right to buy land.
But just because there is a right, it does not mean it is the
correct thing to do. It is all about a balance.
● Something a bit more strenuous: Go a few miles
south down the A9 to head up the lovely pointed summit
of Ben Vrackie. Starting above the pretty village of Moulin,
this Corbett is one of the classic Scottish mountain walks.
● Very strenuous: Head up Beinn Dearg from the north
east side of the Banvie Burn, a strenuous day at 29km (18
miles) but worth the effort for the solitude found by
walking through the Forest of Atholl.
Centre Of
Glenmore Lodge, Scotland’s
National Outdoor Training
Centre, celebrates 70 years
OW is the “golden age” of
Fort William, who became the first warden
Glenmore Lodge, says Shaun
of Glenmore Lodge, and Lord Malcolm
Roberts as he looks from the
Douglas-Hamilton to Dr Noel Odell, a
window of his office to the snow-topped
member of the British Everest expedition of
mountains of the Cairngorms.
1924 which saw Mallory and Irvine die as
The principal of the National Outdoor
they went for the summit.
Training Centre could list any number of
A second course was held a year later,
famous faces who have passed through the
although a skiing accident claimed the life
doors and gone on to make some of the
of student Jean Smith. Jean’s Hut, paid for
most exciting achievements among the
by her father, was erected in Coire Cas and
Centre principal
highest mountains across the world.
later moved to Coire an Lochain where it
Shaun Roberts
But for him, the ongoing ability to instil a
remained until the 1980s.
lasting love and respect for the outdoors in all of the
Despite the loss of life, the Scottish Education
tens of thousands who have been to Glenmore Lodge
Department decided to lease Glenmore Lodge from
is the most important legacy.
the Forestry Commission, and full-time courses began
“Glenmore Lodge is not just for people who want to in 1948 at Scotland’s first civilian outdoor training
get qualified. The focus of what we are trying to do is
centre. The building, now a youth hostel near Loch
engage people with the outdoors and keep them in it.
Morlich, was used until 1959. A new lodge was built at
“The focus of our training is empowering people to
its present site a mile up the road.
go out themselves – a lot of that comes down to the
The Cairngorms were not as accessible as they are
confidence and quality of their decision-making. You
today. Shaun says the start of the lodge could seen as a
can go away with a whole raft of technical skills and
“continuation of that post-war feeling that times were
still have no confidence to actually make decisions.”
hard, but let’s give people a broader view about life”.
At Easter, 1947, the Scottish Section of the Central
He adds, “I think a lot of that was bringing people out
Council of Physical Recreation and the Scottish Tourist
of the Central Belt cities and showing them the
Board used the Aviemore Hotel as a base for a course
Highlands. Loch Morlich wasn’t the honeypot of the
involving snow and ice climbing, hillwalking and skiing. National Park that it is now.”
The instructors ranged from clergyman Bob Clark from
Since 1947, the lodge has grown almost beyond ��
Modern day visitors
get to grips with
the mountain
A remote setting, but
a hive of activity
The lodge in 1963
recognition, offering more than 200 courses training the
best instructors but still sticking to the belief in enthusing
beginners with the skills they need.
A wide appreciation of the outdoors has been at the
forefront at Glenmore Lodge since its beginnings. That
means not just learning the skills needed to climb ice or
sail a dinghy, but also understanding the importance of
factors such as weather or the fitness of members of your
party. In 1952 Catharine Loader, in her book Cairngorm
Adventure at Glenmore Lodge, wrote, “There is no room
for the exclusive specialist at Glenmore… Just as the
farmer or fisherman has to know a great deal about land,
sea and weather, in addition to the ordinary details of his
craft, so the true mountaineer has to be more than just
aware of the physical background of the mountain.”
Glenmore Lodge doesn’t really do celebrity. Dougal
Haston and Pete Boardman are two of the “superstar”
climbers of the 1970s to have worked at the lodge but
there is almost a feeling that any instructor at the centre
must be world class, so no fanfare is needed.
Shaun says, “If you were to ask me when was the
golden age of Glenmore Lodge I would say it is now.
Many big names have been through but for me, the lodge
is bigger than those individuals.
“The real power of a national centre is not one or two
names, it is the expert community. When you get a dozen
instructors together you have a new level of conversation.”
Skiers in the
centre’s early days
Charles (Jack) Thomson is revered as the longest
serving instructor, in at the beginning and staying until
retiring in 1984. As well his time as a chief instructor he
was a founder member and chairman of the British
Association of Skiing Instructors, which formulated
professional instructing qualifications, and he was a vital
part of the mountain rescue operation based at the lodge.
Glenmore’s role in training instructors came to the fore
in the 1960s. Shaun says, “Before, leadership was
probably down to the most experienced person in the
party. But we start to see mountain leader and instructor
qualifications develop, as well as ones in paddle sports.”
It was tragedy that put an emphasis on qualifications
for people leading groups in the mountains. Shaun points
to the Feith Buidhe Disaster of 1971 which saw the deaths
of five schoolchildren from Edinburgh and their assistant
leader when they became stranded in two nights of
blizzards high on the Cairngorm plateau.
He says, “That, not just for Glenmore Lodge but the
whole outdoor industry, was a catalyst for change.
Overnight it became best practice that your leader was
fully qualified.”
The future of Glenmore Lodge revolves around such
qualifications, but still with the ethos of creating a lasting
enjoyment of the outdoors.
Shaun says, “We want to demonstrate how the
outdoors enhances your life.”
The power of a national
centre is the expert community
– a new level of conversation
Cameron McNeish, Scotland’s top outdoor writer,
Wainwright Revealed
Cameron enjoys a new book about the legendary
English hillwalker and his little-known love of Scotland
Wainwright found Sgurr
nan Gillean a challenge
talks about the mountains and those who love them
Cameron’s Country
NUMBER of years ago I was asked to give the
Centenary Lecture to the Wainwright Society in
the English Lake District. It was 100 years since the
birth of the iconic guidebook writer.
At the time, I thought I was an odd choice. I’m a born
and bred patriotic Scot. Scottish hill-goers are a wee bit
contemptuous of good old AW, and sometimes, of the
Lake District too. I’ve heard it suggested that “the
Lakeland hills are like pimples in an albeit quite pretty
corner of England”. Others have suggested the Lake
District is no more than a great sheepfold that could be
swallowed up by the Rannoch Moor. Perhaps that wasn’t
the best way to begin a lecture in Cumbria.
I should point out that I have personally enjoyed a
long-standing love affair with the Lake District and should
I ever be thrown out of my native land, I’d have no
hesitation in setting up home in Keswick.
I can understand the ecstasy that almost overwhelmed
Wainwright on his first visit to the Lake District. My own
first visit was long after I had been introduced to the
Scottish hills, made my first hesitant rock climb and written
my own first guidebook, yet I was beguiled and intrigued
by the romantic atmosphere of the Cumbrian fells.
I’ve come to appreciate that this is an area largely
shaped and developed by man and his sheep. While I’m
passionate about wildness, and wilderness, I can enjoy the
sight of tilled fields lapping along the edges of the hills, or
of a shepherd working his dogs. I like the diversity of
landscape, both wild and agricultural, that you find in the
Lake District. It reminds me that much of Cumbria, unlike
the Scottish Highlands, is a lived-in landscape; not a region
that has been cleared, often cruelly emptied, of people.
I’ve been fascinated by the legend that is Alfred
Wainwright, or AW, and wondered why no television
company has dramatised his life story.
I have some affinity with him. Both of us, as outdoor
writers, began our careers from outside the accepted
norm. AW didn’t follow the normal trail of the time, of
public school, university mountaineering club, then one of
the senior mountaineering clubs where you might be
invited to join an expedition to the Alps or the Greater
He couldn’t really
why the
camera was on him
Ranges. He did his own thing. I didn’t follow a traditional
trail into outdoor media either, and though I emerged as
an outdoor writer years later than Wainwright, there were
similar forces at play. I recall a certain resentment that I
was being published and I wasn’t even a member of one
of Scotland‘s “senior” mountaineering clubs.
So, like Wainwright, I’ve written books, published
magazines, made television programmes from outside the
stockade. But that’s not all. We share the same television
production company and producer/director.
Richard Else was the man who persuaded Wainwright
onto our screens. He’s directed and produced my television
work for almost a quarter of a century, and he’s just
written a fascinating account of his relationship with AW.
The title, Wainwright Revealed, is quite justified. In the
years they worked together it’s probably fair to say that he
was as close to AW as anyone was allowed to be.
Television probably suited Wainwright. There isn’t time
to go into much detail; stories have to be précised as short
as possible to suit the perceived attention span of viewers.
From what Richard Else has written, this didn’t create any
problems. Some days AW just didn’t talk at all.
Wainwright didn’t see the need for interviews, or for a
presenter to walk with him. He couldn’t really understand
why the camera was on him, not on the Fells. I suspect if
he’d had his way the television series would have simply
been a series of long pans of his favourite hills.
● Wainwright Revealed, by Richard Else, is
published by Mountain Media. Publication
date is November 9 – 65 years to the day
when Wainwright started writing his first
A man of many
words – in print
Wainwright (right) and Eric Robson at Loch Coruisk
Wainwright certainly had his own ideas about
television, and he was keen to write his own scripts, to the
consternation of Richard and the presenter of the series,
Eric Robson. I’ll let Richard tell the story:
“Wainwright’s grand idea was this: he would be on the
summit of Pen-y-ghent and Eric would arrive there. The
two would start chatting and then descend together.
There was one extremely large problem. Eric would
pretend not to have recognised or know that he was in
the company of AW. The two would walk down together
chatting away and finally reach the car park in Horton. In
the course of saying their goodbyes Eric would thank his
anonymous walking companion for a good day out. This
would be the cue for me, in the style of Alfred Hitchcock,
to enter my own film. I would walk into the scene and
say, ’Hello AW. How are you? It’s good to see you again.’
Eric would then look at me and AW and with feigned
incredulity speak lines that AW had scripted for him.”
Eric Robson has also written that this was the longest
statement Wainwright had ever made in his presence.
I’ve always found the Wainwright story a fascinating
one. It’s the eternal rags to riches story; a man facing his
own demons; a man who made mistakes and had to live
with them; who discovered a creative outlet that allowed
him to escape the drudgery everyday life had become.
At the same time he was not particularly likeable; he
mentally abused his first wife over many years; was often
rude to those who cared for him; outwardly at least, was
arrogant, a perfectionist to the point of obsession. He
almost despised the company of others unless it suited him.
Richard admits that AW “was a most unusual person,
and that would be putting it mildly”. In a fascinating
chapter he makes the suggestion that perhaps he couldn’t
be fully blamed for the negative aspects of his character.
Was Alfred Wainwright, doyen of guidebook writers and a
god-like figure to many Lakeland aficionados autistic?
“During the time I was with Wainwright and in the
years that have followed, I have thought about his attitude
and psychological make-up, in particular the way he
behaved with other people, and I came to the view that
this was not deliberate,” writes Richard. “Neither was it, in
spite of what I have just stated, the action of an individual
who wished to be deliberately controlling. That
Wainwright behaved in the way he did was, I concluded,
an involuntary act. That has led me to consider if today he
might be placed on the autism spectrum or even diagnosed
with Asperger syndrome. Of course, there is no way of
knowing this for certain and any diagnosis should have
input from a number of medical specialists.”
However, Richard concludes the chapter with a fair
amount of certainty that Wainwright was somewhere on
the autistic spectrum. “What has surprised me is talking ��
Cameron’s Country
I can face
anybody now,
and not feel
inferior to them
to medical professionals who are also keen walkers and
are knowledgeable about Wainwright’s work,” he writes.
“With all the caveats that apply, most obviously that it is
no longer possible to discuss this with AW, their answer
has been that such a conclusion seems consistent with
what we know about him and his work.
“If Wainwright was not on the spectrum, we are left
with the unpalatable conclusion that here was a man who
was often wilfully uncooperative, rude and curmudgeonly.
That is not the Wainwright I knew.”
The story is that of a man who achieved his dreams – a
fairytale romance, fame and relative fortune. A man who
could eventually say, “I can face anybody now, and not
feel inferior to them.”
Richard’s book shines a light on another aspect of
Wainwright’s life and personality – his deep, enduring
love of Scotland. This was a surprise to me. In recalling the
television programmes of the time I seem to remember a
man who appeared uneasy among the wilder landscapes
of Scotland, perhaps happy to admire the peaks from the
roadside but reluctant to get to grips with them.
It’s only fair to point out that when the Scottish
programmes were filmed AW was well into his 70s, losing
his sight and not in the best of health. It was illuminating
to read that he had previously walked fairly extensively in
Scotland, and had even climbed Sgurr nan Gillean on the
Skye Cuillin – no mean feat in itself and particularly for
someone who admits to an aversion to scrambling.
“Like many visitors, AW discovered that these (Cuillin)
mountains are a different proposition from those in
Lakeland. Persuading his driving companion to join him,
the pair set off for the top, but success eluded them:
‘The first day we got within 30 yards of the top and it
was getting decidedly airy because it’s like climbing a spire
and the top of it is almost like a needle. We shirked it
about 30 yards from the top and I kicked myself all the
way back. We should have gone on. There was no great
difficulty. We were just getting precipices on each side.
So I persuaded him to come again the next day and we
did it, and it’s a wonderful place to be.’”
In a series of five journeys the pair revisited parts of
Scotland that had most impressed AW; places he had
given up hope of revisiting. They travelled to the rugged,
rock-scoured landscape of Sutherland where the ancient
gneiss breaks through in a succession of prominent peaks
that, although not objectively high, tower over a landscape
often dotted with innumerable small lochans and,
occasionally, larger expanses of water. The coastline is
never far away and it is that mixture of sea and mountain,
together with its remoteness – 1000km (650 miles) and
more from London – that give this area its character. Later
they made an emotional return to Skye, bathed in glorious
sun and few clouds. Included in the itinerary was Glen
Coe – where, not surprisingly, the weather was less kind.
The trip finished with Torridon and the Cairngorms.
During the filming of the Wainwright TV programmes
Richard Else and AW travelled around 8046km (5000
miles) together. They explored his beloved Lakeland,
roamed the solitary upland of the Howgill Fells, tramped
part of the Pennine Way and celebrated Wainwright’s
own creation – the Coast to Coast walk. For a year and
more they explored the magical landscapes of Scotland, a
highlight for both of them. These journeys finally took
them back to AW’s home town of Blackburn and the
memories locked within its industrial past.
Wainwright was a supporter of Blackburn Rovers FC
and a founder member of their supporters’ club.
In 2008, a road bridge in Blackburn was opened and
named the Wainwright Bridge in his honour.
After his death, his ashes were scattered on Haystacks,
his favourite Lake District fell.
On Your Bike
The Devil’s Staircase
Big views and an outstanding descent are the reward
for this quiet winter ride from Kinlochleven
Distance: 33km
(20 miles)
Ascent: 1200m
Maps: OS
Explorer 384 and
Landranger 41
Parking: On-street
in the town, or at
the Ice Factor if
you plan to pop in.
FAR cry from the mud and roots of
east coast trails, Kinlochleven is all
about the hard stuff – rock, and lots
of it. Although winter seems like an odd
time to ride some of Scotland’s wildest
trails, it’s one of the few locations where
regular rain makes little difference. It’s
hard and grippy whatever the weather.
Plus while nearby Nevis Range’s car
park is busy with bikers, even in the
depths of winter, it’ll probably be just you
unpacking the car as the day begins.
A whole network of challenging routes
drop down from the wild country that
surrounds the village, including the
infamous Ciaran Path from up the
Blackwater Reservoir.
There’s loads of good winter riding, but
I’ve not always had good luck getting up
here. I’ve been stuck at the snow gates just
past Tyndrum a number of times, and
even when I’ve made it as far as the
There are rocky roads in
them there hills…
Kingshouse Hotel, a wee glimpse of snow
up high has twice put me off this ride up
and over the Devil’s Staircase.
I’ve got strong memories of getting in
over my head in these foreboding hills,
too, including the one and only time I had
a go at the Ciaran Path. Once ridden,
never forgotten – or forgiven. It’s a
Marmite trail without doubt, and only for
those who relish a technical challenge.
Another time I headed out and up past
the beautifully situated Mamore Lodge to
the Eilde lochs on to Loch Trieg, before
turning round for the long singletrack run
back. It was early December and I ran out
of light after seven hours, the sun setting
behind the Glen Coe mountains with
about 7km left to go.
I strapped my cheap Chinese torch to
my helmet and prayed the batteries would
last, which thankfully they did.
The Devil’s Staircase, though, is a
…none more so than
the Staircase itself!
Looking across Loch Leven
to the Pap of Glencoe
see regular opportunities to break off the road and ride
trail up the glen.
At Altnafeadh, it’s a push up to the high point, but the
rewards are views north into the snow-capped Mamores
and south to the Glen Etive peaks. Then it’s whee, whee,
whee all the way home!
If time’s on your side and you want to experience the
Ciaran Path, don’t plunge all the way back down, but stop
at the broad track and turn right up to the Blackwater
Reservoir. Crossing the dam isn’t easy, but normally it’s
dry ground at the foot of the wall. Then the Ciaran Path is
the first left that leads all the way back into Kinlochleven.
Find out why one trail can both be so popular and so
hated – but allow plenty of daylight.
Alex’s Top Tip...
Make the most of being
up here – stay the night
and explore the trails that
roll in off the hills. The
Macdonald Hotel has log
cabins that are great value
in the off-season.
Pictures: ALAMY
different matter altogether. It’s nowhere near as big a
commitment as anything else in the area – the hairiest
sections are just a few short spells on the A82 up
through Glen Coe.
Using minor roads, popular tracks and a section of the
West Highland Way, it offers speedy going on solid
ground, plus a breathtaking vista from the high point of
the Way on the shoulder of Beinn Bheag. Despite the
distance, you can expect to wrap it all up and be quaffing
coffee in a café within two and a half to four hours.
Kinlochleven is actually the most inaccessible point on
this ride, so you could start from around the Kingshouse
Hotel or down in Glencoe village – but this way, the
highlight descent is the last thing you do. It’s an especially
fun descent at this time of year, when you’re highly
unlikely to have to worry about walkers on the path.
Trundle west along the road that hugs the southern
shore of Loch Leven, undulating gently on your way to
Glencoe village. You could find a way through the woods
at the f oot of the Pap of Glencoe – rumour has it there are
trails in there – but in midwinter it’s nice to keep it quick
and continue on the road.
Take a left-turn on to the back road up to the Clachaig
Inn, a possible pit stop, and then jump on to the A82. It’s
not a lot of fun, but scan the Ordnance Survey and you’ll
Festive Food Gifts
The gift of a food hamper will delight almost everyone on
your Christmas list and here are three of our favourites. Full
of traditional Scottish fare these hampers will make perfect
gifts for your family and friends this festive season.
Order now
for delivery in
Strathspey Hamper
£22.75 Code: S4030
Includes: 150g Shortbread Fingers,
Tails Shortbread,
150g Petticoat Ta
250g Assorted Shortbread, 300g
Thick & Crunchy Oatcakes,
150g White Chocolate &
Raspberry Biscuits,150g
Extremely Gingery Cookies,
350g Slab Sultana &
Cherry Cake.
Dean’s Premium
£39.50 Code:
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Hamper includes: Hardys Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine 750ml, Baxters
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Dundee Orange Marmalade 340g, Carr’s Water Crackers 125g, Gardiners
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250g, Whittings Christmas Fruit Cake 500g, Vittoria Espresso Coffee 50g.
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A Campaign Update
It’s 12 months since we started campaigning for more National Parks in
Scotland. A new study of the Borders has presented a compelling case
NEW feasibility study has bolstered the case for the
creation of a National Park in the Borders.
The study found the establishment of a Park –
including an area covering the Cheviot, Teviot and
Liddesdale – could provide a considerable economic
boost for the area and encourage more visitors.
Yet despite the findings, the Scottish Government say a
third National Park for Scotland is no closer.
Professor Jane Bower, of the Campaign for a Scottish
Borders National Park, said, “A detailed, independent
feasibility study has been carried out which fully endorses
our view that the area merits such designation.
“Importantly it finds that, given the characteristics of
the area, this would not involve great expense and the
area would rapidly generate considerable social and
economic returns.”
Commissioned by the CSBNP with funding from the
Big Lottery, the Association for the Protection of Rural
Scotland and the Scottish Campaign for National Parks,
the study found the area met the required landscape,
heritage and economic criteria for NP status.
The Bryden Associates study states, “A compelling case
can be made for a National Park for the southern Borders,
delivering sustainable economic growth and based on
long-term stewardship of the unique and treasure-rich
historic culture and inspiring landscapes of the Borderlands.”
Professor Bower added, “Scottish Borders Council is
currently perusing the report. This is the beginning of a
conversation with stakeholders which we hope will
ultimately lead to approval by the Scottish Government.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said, “We will
continue our work to protect and enhance the natural
beauty of the Borders, while promoting sustainable
economic growth. The region is already home to a
National Nature Reserve, several Sites of Special Scientific
Interest and Areas of Conservation.
“There are no plans to designate new National Parks in
Scotland. The proposal has major cost implications and
presents a number of complex administrative challenges
for local and central government, as well as communities.”
RGYLL and Bute Council have drawn up proposals that would
see a National Park created within the local authority area.
Provisionally named Argyll and Islands National Park, it would
cover marine, island and mainland coastal areas.
The power to designate new Parks lies with the Scottish
Government, but the council believes a conservation zone, which
would cover much of the area’s western seaboard and islands
including Mull, Jura, Islay, Coll and Tiree, would bring jobs, investment
and increased tourism – as well as environmental protection.
SCNP’s John Mayhew said, “We’re delighted Argyll and Bute
Council has recognised a new National Park could be a real driver of
rural regeneration as well as enhanced environmental protection.”
Coll would receive
new protection and
The Eildon Hills
would fall inside the
proposed Park
Gear Guide
We put the latest outdoor clothing
and equipment to the test
1. Lifesystems Hydroseal Phone Case, £13.99
Contact details:;;;
TESTED this lightweight, waterproof
phone case on a recent cruise around
Scotland and discovered that, once my
mobile was in place, I was finally able to
stop worrying about my phone being lost/
damaged/irretrievably soaked. Stepping
from ship to tender, hanging over the
railing photographing passing gannets,
answering the occasional work email even I couldn’t
ignore and Facebooking next to the on-deck pool could
all be carried out at no risk to my mobile! Sealing the
case can be fiddly but, once safely ensconced, the
ultra-clear, ultra-sensitive plastic window enabled me to
work all aspects of my mobile without having to remove it.
2. Paramo Ostro Fleece (£125) & Windproof (£85)
LIGHT-WEIGHT layer combo from
Paramo that gives some great options.
The fleece is very close fitting – you can
wear it as a full-zip base-layer. It’s snug and
fantastic in the wind – fully zipped, the
snorkel hood leaves just your nose and eyes
exposed. I find the off-set zip a wee bit
awkward – if you leave it partly open in
wind it can flap about and slap your cheeks. It’s treated
with Nik-Wax so is water repellent. Outer jacket is
windproof – hard to believe, given it’s so incredibly light,
but it is fantastic. I wore both for the first time on Skye in a
howling gale on a horseshoe circuit above Broadford.
They were excellent. Outer layer is not for use in wet,
however – it gets soaked through quickly.
3. Royal Robbins Alpine Road Trousers, £70
UICK drying can be a relative term
when it comes to outdoor gear, but
these trousers are definitely speedy. Within
half an hour of being deluged in a rather
choppy Loch Morlich, there was no sign of
moisture in them. The stretchy material
works well; it is not too tight and gives
flexibility when walking up a steep slope
with big strides. It’s also just the right thickness to keep you
warm on chilly days, but you won’t overheat on scorchers
either. They are also “wrinkle free” – I think this means
they don’t need ironing. However, I had never even
thought of pressing clothes before commencing an
outdoor activity… don’t tell my mother!
4. Boost Oxygen (22oz), £12
HAVE to admit – I didn’t have a clue
what to do with the can of oxygen that
was presented to me for this month’s
review. Yes, having good levels of oxygen in
the bloodstream is vitally important to
combat muscle fatigue, but carrying around
an extra tank? Sceptical, I read up on it and
dutifully took it into the hills. When used
on a strenuous incline – I can’t say I noticed a difference,
but when used after a run it certainly decreased recovery
time dramatically. Boost says using the can combats
muscle cramp, which makes sense, and I can’t argue
there. It also says it can help reduce hangovers. I might
keep some for after the office Christmas party…
Our grand tour is one for the island-bagger —
travelling the Western Isles from top-to-toe.
The concept of a Grand Tour might seem almost at odds with the famously
laid-back pace of life in Scotland’s Western Isles, but bear with us: on these
remote islands, you’d be hard-pressed not to discover a new archaeological
gem at every turn. Whether discovering Norse mills or ancient hills, this is
truly a place where time is on our side.
Here in the Outer Hebrides, there is a uniquely slow pace of life reminiscent
of times past — in the north, establishments go into once-weekly
hibern ation in observation of the Sabbath, while up an d down the islan d
chain there is a pleasing dissonance as ancient sites meet modern life.
Just off the coast of Barra, we journey by boat to ‘The Castle in the Sea’,
the impregnable, wave-lapped Kisimul Castle; on the Isle of Lewis we see
Shawbost Norse Mill and Kiln, an accomplished restoration and a fascinating
insight into a way of life once common on the island; and walk amongst the
mysterious Standing Stones of Callanish.
• Lewis
• Harris
• North Uist
• South Uist
• Benbecula
• Eriskay
• Vatersay
• Barra
• Skye (certain tours only)
• Four scenic ferry crossings
• Blindingly white sandy beaches on
South Uist and Vatersay
• The unique airport at Cockleshell Beach
• 5000 year old standing stones
• The tranquil location of the Norse
Mill at Shawbost
• Ocean sunsets at the Isle of Barra Hotel
(excludes March departure)
NEW FOR 2018:
• Porterage
• All tips
• More lunches and wine with dinner
• On board water bottles on coach
• Return coach travel available from
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dunfermline,
Kinross, Perth or (subject to
numbers) Dundee.
• 5 nights’ accommodation on a
dinner (with wine), bed and full
breakfast basis:
• All coaching and ferry transfers
• Visits to the Standing Stones of Callanish,
the Gearrannan Black Houses and the
Norse Mill, Kildonan Visitor Centre, and
• Services of a Tour Manager
New for 2018, on selected tours include: more lunches, wine at dinner, hotel
porterage and service charges, as well as the great hotels and expert guides
you’ve already come to love. There’s never been a better time to travel with us.
Connecting flights, rail travel and
accommodation before or after any of
these tours is available on request for
those outwith listed departure points
please call for more details
DEPARTS 21 MAY, 25 JUNE & 27 AUGUST 2018
Despite being Scotland’s seventh largest island, Arran’s diminutive
size means that it’s quite possible to pack a good number of its
sights into one day. But why would you want to do that? Instead
you can join us on a longer tour, taking it all in at a pace far more
befitting of the laid-back Firth of Clyde.
5 days from
£595 PP
High-achieving Northern Isles Orkney and Shetland do an awful lot
extremely well indeed. With that in mind, we thought it only right
to celebrate all the wonders they hold with a carefully curated tour
of their very best bits — why don’t you join us?
6 days from
£1395 PP
4 days from
This fantastic tour charts the life of the brilliant Robert Burns.
Follow his footsteps from his humble Ayrshire beginnings to his
untimely death in Dumfries in 1796 for a Burns Night celebration
like no other. Packed to the rafters with neeps, tatties, whisky,
haggis and poetry, what better way to commemorate the joys of
Scotland’s best-loved bard?
£795 PP
4 days from
The Isle of Mull is a place of tumbling burns, high peaks,
dramatic views and a silent, lonely beauty. The multi-coloured
buildings that line the waterfront of the island’s principal town,
Tobermory, will be familiar to many and it’s a wonderful place
to spend a couple of hours wandering around the shops, which
include local arts and crafts outlets.
£750 PP
4 days from
Chart a course and set the propeller going — it’s full steam ahead
on our Classic Scottish Steam break! By track and by tide, we
discover firsts, lasts, exclusives and superlatives on a unique tour
that takes us back to the heady days of the steam era. Ever wanted
to gaze at Britain’s highest mountain? Its shortest river? Or how
about the deepest freshwater loch in Europe? We even enjoy an
encounter with the world’s first rotating boat lift, as well as its last
sea-going paddle steamer.
£595 PP
For brochure call 01224 338004 & quote SM code, or email
To book call 01334 657155 and quote
5 1
Eve Grayson feeds
Britain’s only
reindeer herd at
Aviemore in the
Carina’s Kitchen
A no-waste Christmas is the
perfect gift for your chef...
E got a new cleaner in September. You
may ask what this has to do with
Christmas? Like most house-proud or
paranoid householders, we did the deep clean
before the cleaner started.
While the house felt like Christmas once we were
sparkly and tidy, the bin felt like Christmas too – huge
piles of paper and rubbish and all of last year’s
stocking fillers which I had bought to fill up the red
sack Santa had brought down the chimney.
Despite the looks of awe when the red sack is
unpacked, I now think it’s all an act to make me feel
valued. Never again – my children have officially
grown out of the Santa sack. This year it will be a
cheque, to be spent as they wish alongside a parcel
of the obligatory new pyjamas, socks, pants and a
selection box. I can’t go wrong with any of that.
As for the food, I’ve learnt how to have zero
waste. I now cook a turkey crown as none of the
family like the brown meat from the bird, so no
waste there. All the trimmings are counted and only
the favourites are cooked: dauphinoise, creamy
carrots, piggies in blankets of course, traditional
stuffing with thyme and apricots, sprouts with
chestnuts and parsley breadcrumb peppers.
The only problem area we have is dessert. Trifle
– I love it, but it’s just me. Christmas wouldn’t be
Christmas without Christmas pudding so I make a
tiny one that Victor can happily finish on his own.
The one thing that I can’t not make is Christmas
cake. This recipe can be made early December – I’ve
even made it as late as 10 days before and it’s still
perfect. This is because it’s cooked very slowly and
very generously treated with our favourite 15 year
old Glengoyne whisky – I’ll even leave a few slices for
our great new cleaner as there will be nothing to
clean up in the new year!
Classic Christmas Cake
● 500g currants
● 150g sultanas
● 150g dried cranberries
● 100g cherries
● 225 of plain flour, sieved
● 225g of soft dark brown sugar
● 225g unsalted butter, room temperature
● Pinch of salt
● 1 tablespoon of treacle
● 3 large free range eggs
● Zest of 2 unwaxed orange
● 1 teaspoon of ground spice
● Brandy or Glengoyne 10 yr old to soak
the fruit and to treat the cake once it’s baked
● 1kg Marzipan
● 1kg Royal Icing
● Marmalade or apricot jam, for brushing
1 Place the dried fruits, apart from the cherries, in a bowl
and pour in a good slug of your liquor to wet the fruit.
2 Leave the fruit overnight in a larder or airing cupboard.
3 Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 2. Double or triple line a
18cm x 10cm cake tin. Be neat, as you want the
mixture to bake evenly so adding the icing is easier.
4 Cream the butter until light and airy and then add the
sugar. Continue to cream until it’s lovely and fluffy.
5 Add the treacle and orange zest and beat together.
6 Add an egg and a little sieved flour to stop the mixture
curdling. Keep adding eggs and flour until incorporated.
7 Sieve in the spices and salt.
8 Drain the fruits and fold this into the cake mixture. If it
looks dry, add a spoonful of liquor to loosen mixture.
9 Transfer to the cake tin and cover with a thick sheet of
brown paper to stop the top from colouring too much.
10 Bake in the simmering oven or the Aga (if you’re spoiled
like me and got one for your 40th birthday) for 5½ - 6
hours or gas mark 2 for 4½ hours, until cooked. A knife
will come clean from the cake when cooked.
11 Allow to cool slightly, then transfer to a wire rack. While
warm, drizzle a tablespoon or two of liquor onto the
cake to start the treatment.
12 Wrap in double thickness greaseproof paper and
continue to feed the cake at least once per week until
you are ready to cover in marzipan and icing. I cheat
and use pre-made marzipan and pre-made royal icing.
To make it easier, two 500g packets of each will give
you more than enough. Use icing sugar to help you roll
out the marzipan first. A little melted marmalade or
apricot jam brushed on top of the cake will help stick
the rolled out marzipan to the cake. A pretty ribbon can
cover a multitude of sins to finish off the cake.
Christmas Cake
Slàinte Mhath
A Cup O’ Kindness
Your whisky expert suggests some fine whiskies and
gins to offer all sorts of neighbours on Hogmanay
HETHER you live next to an
all-seeing Mrs Mangle or your
very own Granpaw Broon, a cup o’
kindness is always well-received on
But the question on every
first-footer’s lips, from Ramsay Street
to Glebe Street, is what dram to buy
for the folks next door?
Here’s our essential guide on the
right flavour for everyone’s neighbour.
A strange car coming into the street,
number 72 on a two-week break
and an encyclopaedic knowledge
of who moved in – and when.
Something that’s going to stimulate
all those keen, finely-tuned senses is
an Ardbeg 10-year-old. Glowing on
the eye, there’s a big peaty hit on the
nose and it’s sweet on the palate –
all with a long smoky finish.
(70cl , 46%) £43.35.
Unleash all the cacophony of a steel
drum band with your liveliest
neighbour by cracking open Balvenie
Caribbean Cask. The 14-year-old
edition finished its maturation in casks
which had previously held the finest
Caribbean rum. Expect vanilla and
toffee notes. Lust for life in a bottle.
(70cl, 43%) £51.95
Aged for the first nine years in
American white oak casks, Dalmore
12 year old is then transferred to
Oloroso sherry casks for the final
three years. The resulting dram is
sweet and luxurious. It’s also related
to an older generation of Dalmores,
like the 62-year-old, now passing
hands for six figures. Its 12-year-old
relative is the perfect for the striver
of the street.
(70cl, 40%) £40.45
For the folk who keep
themselves to themselves
– yet are warm and
approachable. It’s got to be
a Caol Ila 12-year-old. It’s of
medium weight, unobtrusive
yet still a refined, powerful
dram. And perhaps like
those neighbours who just
get on with it, the flavour is
very balanced.
(70cl, 43%) £44.75
Have a neighbour who’s built a fantastic
area of decking with borrowed tools or
embarked on a superhuman cycle on your
beloved bike? Bruichladdich have achieved
something of beauty too – by handpicking
some of the best of local ingredients. The
Botanist contains no fewer than 31
botanicals, of which 22 are native to the
Southern Hebridean island itself. The latter
include the likes of mugwort, meadowsweet
and the enigmatic Lady’s Bedstraw flowers.
(70cl, 46% ) £33.75
Glen Scotia is from one of the three Campbeltown
distilleries, and like the reliable neighbour who
waters the plants and makes sure the mail isn’t
mounting up when you’re away, the 15-year-old
is a solid dram. It’s also marked by plenty of
pudding fruit, including little apple pie, cinnamon
and a touch of ginger too. Vibrant – and won’t
disappoint. (70cl, 46%) £61
There’s always a neighbour who manages to balance the
demands of work, life and keep an immaculate house
year round. The Naked Grouse balances the best of both
worlds too, a blend based around a duo of well-kent
malts, namely sherry-matured Macallan and Highland
Park. The bottle’s design is spick and span, simply
featuring a picture of the whisky’s emblem etched into
the bottle plus a cardboard and string neck tag.
(70 cl, 40%) £25
Is your neighbour always heading for
the hills? Try a bottle from the Gin
Bothy range. Inspired by Bothies of
the past, Gin Bothy favour the
old-fashioned approach. They infuse
their gins with local seasonal fruits in
extremely small batches, working
through the process by hand at each
step. Refreshingly ideal for weary
weekend wanderers.
(Gin Bothy Gunshot Gin)
(70cl, 37.5%) £39.99
Friendly, full of chat and
always likes to shoot the
breeze come rain or shine?
Scapa Glansa is peaty – but
not too peaty. It works for
those who want a little more
than a light style, but who
find the smoke and brine of
some other malts too much.
A joy to be with – but not
(70cl, 40%) £40.95
Know a neighbour who has a garage somewhere
between a scientist’s lab and an A-Team
engineering experiment? I recommend a
Glenfiddich IPA. This dram was created in
collaboration with IPA craft beer expert Seb Jones
and the Speyside giants. The result is a pioneering
homely pale-ale finish to the big-hitting single malt.
(70 cl, 43%) £45.55
Eat, Drink, Sleep...The Reviews
THINK Inverkip might
be the cheeriest village
in Scotland.
It was a typically
dreich October day, with
smirry rain and a heavy
grey sky glowering four
feet above our heads.
Yet everyone we met
had a big smile and was
quick to greet you with a
hearty “hiya”.
Drivers stopped to
give way with a flash of
lights and a wave. It lifted
the spirits and we were in
a great mood as we
entered the 300-year-old
Inverkip Hotel on the
village’s main street.
Owner Diane Hardy
welcomed us – we were
delighted to discover
she’s just as friendly as
the other villagers.
Diane and husband
Alistair have run the hotel
for 30 years. It’s very
much a family business.
Daughter Holly is one
of two head chefs; the
other is Alan Dougan.
Holly’s fiancée Richard is
restaurant and hotel
manager, as is her sister
Katy, whose partner Ty is
bar manager. Youngest
daughter Natasha also
works in hospitality and
has just returned from a
stint working in
The whole team go
that extra mile to make
you feel at home.
Inverkip Hotel
A warm welcome and friendly service are guaranteed
in this family-run Renfrewshire coaching inn
Pleasant surprises within!
The hotel consists of a
fabulous whisky bar with
a top-class range of malts
and craft gins, a relaxing
lounge with open fire, the
Elbow Room, a more
traditional Scottish bar,
and – dug out from the
hillside at the back of the
hotel – a stunning
restaurant area with
Tiffany-esque glassdomed ceiling and
arched balcony. It was all
quite unexpected in what
looks a traditional country
inn from outside.
A twisting staircase
takes you to the hotel’s
five bedrooms. We had
The Old Drapery, a huge
family room with two
double beds – they were
very comfortable with
excellent mattresses and
high-thread count linen.
Period cornicing adds
to the traditional feel. The
enormous bathroom has
a tub and powerful
shower. Everything was
spotless. I love that the
team use local toiletries
from Arran Aromatics.
And a Tunnocks Teacake,
in place of regulation
biscuits, is a fun touch.
Highlight was dinner.
It was incredible – Holly
and her team did a grand
job. To start, we had
perfectly cooked,
succulent Shetland
My main was roast
saddle of venison – meltin-the mouth stuff. My
other half opted for a fillet
Fish People Café
steak, locally sourced, as
is all the food where
For dessert, I couldn’t
resist the cheeseboard of
five Scottish cheeses. My
partner had meringue
with hot raspberries and
vanilla ice cream. For
research purposes, I had
to try it – it was heavenly.
It was Friday and the
first of the hotel’s “Thank
Folk It’s Friday” live music
sessions. We spent the
evening relaxing in the
busy bar sampling that
tremendous gin selection.
After a great sleep we
enjoyed a leisurely
breakfast. It was my duty
to go for “the full
Scottish” – Stornoway
black pudding, bacon
and sausages from
locally-reared livestock,
perfectly poached eggs…
it’s making me hungry
just thinking about it!
Room rates, including
that marvellous breakfast,
range from £65 to £110.
The hotel has super two
and three-course menu
deals. For more, visit
A nice touch
with Tunnocks
Garry Fraser susses out some
seafood in Glasgow’s south side
FOOD: There’s something fishy going on in Glasgow’s
south side that needs immediate investigation. The Fish
People Café is in Scotland Street specialising in the best
seafood and is well worth a visit, even if you’re not a
full-time fish-lover. It offers seafood of all kinds, mostly
sourced in Scotland, ranging from Barra scallops to
Scrabster sole and Cumbrae oysters.
The restaurant’s small with only 24 covers, seconds
away from Shields Road underground station and has a
chef keen to experiment. Tandoori-baked sea bass and
fish stew with gruyère are two examples of his
imaginative cuisine. I decided to be more traditional so
went for seaweed crusted smoked salmon with
horseradish crème fraîche, capers and shallots as a
starter. Not 100% successful I have to say, with the
strong horseradish overpowering the salmon. The
capers failed to tingle my tastebuds. However, the chef
got it spot-on with the main – baked Fraserburgh
haddock thermidor, black pudding and hand-cut
chips. This was excellent, with the sauce perfectly
complimenting the, perfectly-cooked haddock. 7/10
SERVICE: Efficient and friendly, although the restaurant
wasn’t too busy. Keen to let you get on with your meal
with minimum of fuss. 9/10
AMBIENCE: Quite relaxed, with tables sufficiently far
part to ensure some intimacy. The background
“musak” didn’t deter conversation. 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: Early evening set menu £15
(two courses) and £18 (three courses) is excellent value.
A la carte menu is also not unreasonable, with stone
bass king prawn the dearest (£19) 8/10
The bar’s fine
gin selection
FACILITIES: One-person-only toilets that
might cause a queue at busy periods, but
clean and tidy. 8/10
Sound Of Scotland
Seven Of The Best
Lisa-Marie Ferla reflects on a fantastically fertile year for
Scottish music with exciting debuts and future classics
Neil Pennycook
and Meursault
I Will Kill Again
Meursault’s Neil Pennycook may have
never really gone away, regenerating into
solo project Supermoon, but it’s hard to
treat the return of one of the most underappreciated names in Scottish indie music
with anything other than the reverence it
deserves. By setting Pennycook’s aching,
anguished wail against delicate, uplifting
melodies, I Will Kill Again combines
moments of sweetness and menace – and
a welcome return from one of the greats.
Best tracks: The Mill, Ode To Gremlin
Sister John
Pronto Mama
Any Joy
Glasgow’s student-run record label Electric Honey –
launchpad for Biffy Clyro, Snow Patrol and Belle and
Sebastian – is 25 years old. Central to the celebrations?
The debut album from “bug-eyed beatniks” Pronto Mama,
whose soulful, irreverent Any Joy squeezes in some of the
best fun I’ve had in album form all year with its warped
time signatures, wry lyrics and joyful bursts of brass.
Best tracks: Arabesque, One Trick Pony
Sister John
Returned From Sea
Every Country’s Sun
Elegant and understated, the debut album from
Glasgow country-folk four-piece Sister John is a
beautifully-made record whose lo-fi origins leave
space for a little wildness to creep through, on
tracks like Backstreet Swimmers in particular.
The wonderfully warm voice of frontwoman
Amanda McKeown adds an effortless charm,
particularly when accompanied by a touch
of strings.
Best tracks: Sweetest Moment, Try To Be Good
With the Glasgow art-rockers having switched to
soundtrack albums in recent years – an ideal fit for their
complex, atmospheric sound – you’d have been forgiven
for wondering if Mogwai would ever release another
album. But the follow-up to 2014’s Rave Tapes is worth
the wait and even includes the closest thing to a bangin’
anthem the post-rockers have ever produced in Party In
The Dark. They headline the SSE Hydro later this month,
and I wouldn’t be surprised if they blew the roof off.
Best tracks: Coolverine, Party In The Dark
Gig Guide
Siobhan Wilson
Emma Ruth Rundle, Nice ‘N’
Sleazy, Glasgow, December
14. Alt-pop performer and
songwriter based in Los
There Are No Saints
From choral sweetness to airy,
Gallic cool, the voice of Elginborn, classically-trained musician
Siobhan Wilson never fails to
mesmerise. Many of the vocal
parts on There Are No Saints
were recorded in a single take,
making this immersive and richly
rewarding album sound even
more vulnerable. Make You
Mine and live favourite Dear God
will break your heart, then put it
back together.
Best tracks: Whatever Helps,
Make You Mine
Audrey (left)
and Michelle
Moulettes, Sneaky Pete’s,
Edinburgh, December 16.
Brighton-based indie-folk outfit,
with Ruth Skipper’s bassoon
adding unusual colour.
Happy Mondays, The
Ironworks, Inverness,
December 21. Going strong
since 1980, with four original
members still performing.
The Miss’s
What did Audrey Tait, drummer of much
missed hip-hop duo Hector Bizerk, do next?
Why, teamed up with fellow songwriter
Michelle Low to create an album of soulful,
melodic country-pop, of course! There’s
something more cohesive about Crash
which hints at great things to come.
Best tracks: Crash, Keep Me
Strange Words And Weird Wars
A pioneer of electronic music
since her Ladytron days, Helen
Marnie continues to push
boundaries on her second solo
release. With lyrics inspired by
love, loss, political frustrations
and that late night giddy dance
floor rush, Strange Words And
Weird Wars is an album for our
confusing times, cunningly
disguised as an 80s-inspired pop
Best tracks: Electric Youth,
Lost Maps
Heaven 17, The Assembly,
Aberdeen, December 17.
Sheffield-based duo formed in
the 80s featuring Glenn Gregory
and Martyn Ware.
Sister Sledge, O2 Academy,
Glasgow, December 22.
American female soul-disco
group formed in 1971. Hits
include We Are Family.
Manran, Strathpeffer Pavilion,
December 28. Scottish/Gaelic
folk outfit fronted by vocalist
and guitarist Norrie MacIver.
Red Pine Timber Company,
Perth Concert Hall, December
28. One of the UK’s premier
Americana groups, seen in
concerts and festivals the length
and breadth of the country.
Red Pine Timber Company
Great Scottish 1
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for overseas prices
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DC Tho son & Co Ltd
Scottish Bookshelf
Growing Up Online
To mark Book Week Scotland we talk to internet sensation
Estelle Maskame, a young Scot with very big dreams…
OME people wait a lifetime for their wildest dreams
to come true, but for Peterhead author Estelle
Maskame, it happened at the age of just 17 when
her first book was published.
Three years on, and with Book Week Scotland events
taking place all over the country championing authors
just like Estelle, we caught up with the successful writer to
talk about overcoming adversity and her life as a
published author.
Estelle Maskame’s teenage years were quite the
whirlwind. She began writing her first book, a
contemporary romance for young adults set in
America, when she was just 13, posting her
work on the writing community Wattpad.
The novel, Did I Mention I Love You
(DIMILY), received over four million hits
online, attracting many fans as well as the
Edinburgh based publisher Black & White.
“I still think the fact that I got published at
17 is a bit crazy,” Estelle tells me. “Growing
up, I always dreamt about seeing my books in
print, but I never thought I’d manage to do it in my teens.
I didn’t even know that teenagers could get published!”
Technology and social media have played a huge part
in Estelle’s success as a writer and it was the support that
she received online that encouraged her to complete all
three books of the DIMILY series.
But the author, who has a whopping 169,000
followers on Twitter – more than Ian Rankin and Val
McDermid put together – tells me that her success online
has been a double-edged sword.
“Posting my work online was brilliant for me in lots of
ways, but it also attracted a lot of negativity. I was young
and was getting a lot of support and attention and then
suddenly there were people going out of their way to try
and drag me down.
“They would take my photographs and edit them to
make fun of me. They would use anonymous accounts so
I couldn’t even see who the comments were coming
from. It was so frustrating.”
Bullying can be devastating for anyone, but Estelle says
that it’s particularly hard for teenagers online.
“I didn’t want to tell my mum and dad because I
was worried that they wouldn’t let me use the internet
any more, but it got so bad that I thought about taking
my work offline anyway. Then I realised that if I gave in to
these bullies, I was letting them win. So, I decided to
prove them all wrong instead.”
And that’s exactly what she did.
Three years on and Estelle has already published her
fourth book, Dare To Fall, a standalone novel for young
adults about the impact that grief can have on
young people.
“Thankfully, I’ve never had to experience
that sort of grief first hand, but it is something
that I worry a lot about.
“The thought of losing someone I love
terrifies me, so I decided to write about it as a
way of conquering my fears.”
Like the DIMILY series, Dare To Fall is set in
the US, far from her hometown of Peterhead. It’s a
place she writes about vividly, but Estelle confessed that
until recently, she’d never actually visited.
“All my books are set in America, but all the settings
were researched online. It was a huge dream of mine to
visit places like California, Chicago and Colorado.
“I finally managed to visit them earlier this year
with my mum. It was amazing to see the places for
myself and not just view them on Google Maps!
“My life in Peterhead is very different to the worlds
that I write about,” she laughs, “but I like living here. Cities
decided to prove
internet bullies
wrong instead
kind of stress me out! It’s nice and quiet here, and
everyone knows each other. America is great, but I
wouldn’t want to live there.”
Estelle says that despite the abuse she received
online, her community at home have been incredibly
supportive of her.
“Everyone has been brilliant. When I got my publishing
deal I was half way through my sixth year at school and
my friends were so excited for me.
“They thought it was really cool that I was published,
but none of us realised that it would blow up this big! It
really has been amazing.”
Estelle Maskame’s Dare To Fall is published by Black &
White Publishing’s young adult imprint Ink Road.
For information and advice on cyberbullying, visit
Estelle’s Did I Mention I Love You series is sold across
16 countries including the US, Germany and France.
In 2016 Estelle won a Young Scot Award for her
contribution to the arts, at a ceremony hosted by
Edith Bowman in Edinburgh.
The author has amassed a huge fan base and some
of her followers have even tattooed themselves with
a key phrase from the DIMILY trilogy, “no te rindas”,
which means “never give up”.
There are hundreds of events all over the country to
mark Book Week Scotland (Nov 27-Dec 3). For
more details visit
Scottish Bookshelf
The Writers
That Time Forgot
Fiercely intelligent and political, these authors deserve a fresh look…
HEN we think of Scottish writers who were
born in the 19th century, it’s authors like
J. M. Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert
Louis Stevenson that immediately spring to mind.
Sadly, the work of great women writers such as
Margaret Oliphant, Catherine Carswell and Naomi
Mitchison has been almost entirely eclipsed over time.
As part of our celebration of Book Week Scotland, we
delve back into the lives and works of these extraordinary,
yet often forgotten women, and explore the ways in
which their writing helped to shape Scotland’s rich and
vibrant literary landscape.
1828 - 1879
Margaret Oliphant
Born on April 4, 1828, Margaret Oliphant was regarded as
one of the most important writers of the Victorian period.
Starting out life in the village of Wallyford, seven miles
outside Edinburgh, Margaret was home-schooled by her
mother, who was keen to ensure she was well educated.
Margaret enjoyed writing from a young age, penning
stories on the table of her family home. Her first published
novel, Passages in the Life of Margaret Maitland, was
released when she just 21. The book was well received by
the public and acclaimed by Charlotte Brontë and Charles
Dickens. Margaret built on this success, writing short stories
and essays for Edinburgh-based Blackwood’s Magazine.
In 1852, Margaret married her cousin Frank and they
settled in London. They had five children, two of whom
sadly died shortly after birth. Just seven years into their
marriage, Frank contracted tuberculosis and died.
His death left Margaret under immense financial strain.
Forced to pay off debts and provide for her three growing
children, she had no choice but to become prolific in her
work. She would produce over 100 novels in her lifetime,
as well as numerous short stories and articles, many set in
Scotland. Her books often featured women striving to
assert power and control over their own affairs.
Her most famous works include Miss Marjoribanks, the
story of a woman who decides she does not want to
marry and Katie Stewart, a novel about the Jacobites
thought to be inspired by Margaret’s own family history.
She also experimented with supernatural stories, often
inspired by Scottish ballads. The hauntingly beautiful
Beleaguered City, about a town taken over by the dead, is
said to have moved Robert Louis Stevenson to tears.
Margaret outlived all her children. She died of colon
cancer at her home in The Hermitage, London, aged 69.
1879 - 1946
Born in Garnethill,
Glasgow, on March
27, 1879, Catherine
Carswell was
destined to live a
life of turmoil and
Catherine studied at the Conservatory of Music in
Frankfurt before going on to study art at Glasgow
University, but never received a degree because women
were not formally permitted to attend university at that
time. In 1907, she began her writing career with the
Glasgow Herald, reviewing books and plays.
Catherine had a number of turbulent love affairs during
her lifetime. Her first marriage to Herbert Parry Jackson
ended when he became unstable and violent. Catherine
made legal history when she won her fight to have their
marriage annulled on the grounds that Jackson hadn’t
understood the marriage contract due to his mental state.
After a doomed affair with a married man, Catherine
married Times journalist Donald Carswell in 1915. The
pair had a son, but Donald was killed in a car crash during
a Second World War blackout in 1940.
One relationship which did endure was Catherine’s
friendship with novelist D. H. Lawrence. They met in
1914 and she quickly became a supporter of his work.
This admiration would see her lose her position at the
Glasgow Herald after she gave his controversial 1915 novel
The Rainbow a favourable review. The book was later
seized and burned under the Obscene Publications Act.
However, her friendship with Lawrence benefited
Catherine’s own career. The author inspired her to write
fiction and she went on to produce her first novel Open
the Door! in 1916 followed by The Camomile in 1922.
But it was her biography The Life of Robert Burns that
would bring her fame. Her unsentimental view of Burns’
work and her contentious views on Scotland’s literary
heritage won her support from fellow socialists Neil Gunn
and Hugh MacDiarmid, but caused great offence to
others. Some Burns fans even sent her death threats.
Catherine continued to work on biographical projects
throughout her life. She died in Oxford aged 66, after
battling pneumonia and pleurisy.
1897 - 1999
Naomi Mitchison
Born in Edinburgh on November 1, 1897, Naomi
Mitchison produced one of the most important historical
novels of her time. She attended Oxford Preparatory
School for Boys, alongside her brothers, until 1911 when
she was taken home to be schooled by her governess.
Inspired by her scientist father, she developed a
fascination with genetics and biology and studied the
subject at the Society of Oxford Home Students until the
start of the First World War.
During this time, she met and married future Labour
MP Dick Mitchison. The couple had seven children, five
of whom reached adulthood. While their relationship
stood the test of time, it was somewhat unconventional;
both enjoyed the perks of an open marriage.
Naomi published her debut novel, The Conquered, in
1923. The book, about Julius Caesar and the conquest of
Gaul, was well received and was added to the Classics
reading lists at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. She
wrote many more historical novels, her most famous work
being The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931). The
story of witchcraft in an ancient civilisation, it is widely
regarded as one of the best historical novels ever written.
A staunch feminist, Naomi campaigned fiercely for
women’s rights. In 1924, she joined the founding council
of the North Kensington Women’s Welfare Centre and
pushed forward an agenda for change, believing women
should have access to birth control and abortion. In 1935
she penned We Have Been Warned, which explored
these issues along with the subject of rape.
Admired by fellow writers, Naomi corresponded with
E. M. Forster, Aldous Huxley and Neil Gunn. She
developed a long-standing friendship with J. R. R. Tolkien
and proof-read his epic novel, The Lord of the Rings.
Naomi enjoyed a long and prolific career, producing
over 70 works including novels, biographies, essays and
books of short stories and poetry. She died in the Scottish
fishing village of Carradale, aged 101.
Scottish Bookshelf
way for me to thank
the Macdonalds
and my family.”
Starting with an
insight into Marcello’s
childhood, career and
family life at Kinloch Lodge, The
Key Ingredient then returns to
familiar cookbook territory with
recipes accompanied by
mouthwatering photographs of
the dishes in question.
As a “homely” cook – soup
and stovies is my speciality! – I
rarely follow recipes and this one
nearly scared me off completely
when Michelin-starred Marcello
warns, on the very first page, that
digital scales are a necessity as all
ingredients must be measured
correctly. He even weighs the
water in the soup recipes!
This aside, I enjoyed this book
immensely and even kidded
myself on that I would follow
Marcello’s recipe for Eggs
Florentine and attempt his Bread,
Butter & Rum Pudding.
However, I’m realistic enough to
know that I’ll never have the
time, inclination or skill to tackle
Chicken Breast Stuffed with Crab
& Warm Dill Dressing, even with
the step-by-step photos. But,
thanks to Marcello’s recipe for
Seared Scallops and Black
Pudding with Cauliflower Purée
& Butternut Sauce, I now know
the secret of a perfectly cooked
king scallop – one minute either
side, in case you’re wondering.
A wonderful mix of cordonbleu cookery and traditional
dishes, with treats that will either
tempt you into your kitchen – or
entice you into booking a trip to
Kinloch Lodge!
Wendy Glass
The Key Ingredient
By Marcello Tully
TO celebrate 10 years at the
helm of the kitchen at Kinloch
Lodge on the Isle of Skye,
Brazilian/Scottish chef Marcello
Tully has written his first book.
“For many years Kinloch’s
guests have asked me if I had a
book,” explains Marcello, who
moved to Kinloch Lodge with his
family after a chance meeting
with Kinloch’s founder, Lady
Claire Macdonald. “While it was
something we’d always hoped to
do, we never quite found the
time. Then, when I was thinking
how I might mark this special
10-year anniversary, things just
slotted into place. This is the best
Accuracy is the
key – Marcello
even weighs the
water in the soup
The Permanence Of
The Young Men
By Shona McLeod &
Robin Reid
Five Seaforth Highlanders and their
exploits during the Great War. To
win a copy go to
Supreme Sacrifice
By Walter Reid
How 72 men from Bridge of
Weir fought and died for their
country in the First World War
as soldiers, sailors or airmen,
and how their loss affected the
First for fact and fiction
The Scottish Wildcat
Where The World Ends
Mary Queen Of Scots
By Christopher Clegg
£20 Hardback
Clegg includes everything you
could possibly want to know
about this endangered species. It
includes the animal’s history from
prehistoric times and the latest
initiatives to save the wildcat from
By Geraldine McCaughrean
A group of boys marooned on a
remote stac seems an unlikely
storyline, but the story is tragic,
surprising and funny all at the same
time. The tale is based on the
real-life adventures of a party of
boys in 1727.
By Jenny Wormald
An updated version of Wormald’s
1988 biography. The author’s
views might be controversial, but
her research and expertise is
faultless. It is one of the definitive
biographies of Mary and the last
one for a considerable time.
Books In Brief
She Said, He Said, I Said
Diana Hendry & Susie Maguire
The year’s best poetry and
short fiction from emerging
and established writers in
Scotland. The work of some
48 authors is included,
covering all aspects of culture
and society. £9.95 ASLS
Thomas Sanderson’s Account
Of Incidents
Martin Hillman
A book reflecting the work of
Thomas Sanderson and his son
who worked tirelessly for the
Edinburgh Musical Society in
the late 18th century. £15
Friends of St Cecilia’s Hall
The Lions Of Lisbon
Ian Auld & Willy Malley
The script of a play that
celebrated Celtic’s 1967
European Cup success, from
the fans’ perspective. Auld is
the brother of Bertie Auld, one
of the Hoops’ heroes that day.
£7.99 Luath
Facing The Persians
Ian Olson
A collection of poems from
former Scots Magazine
contributor Olson, an
academic and retired doctor
well-versed in all aspects of
Scottish traditions and culture.
£6.99 Tellforth Publishing
Around Scotland
Red Hot Chilli Pipers, Ryan Centre, Stranraer,
December 22. Bagpipes with attitude and drums to
suit make an evening of “bag-rock” one to remember.
Since their cameo appearance at T in the Park in
2004, The Pipers have become one of the most
famous and sought-after bands in the country, playing
200 live shows per year, with every one a night to
remember. Box office 01776 703535.
Singin’ In The Rain, Pitlochry
Festival Theatre, until December
23. Classic musical with the title song
just one of many hits. Box Office
01796 484626
Counterfeit Sixties Show, Rothes
Halls, Glenrothes, December 16.
A night of nostalgia with fabulous
music from the Beatles, the Monkees
and many more.
Caledonian Railway Santa Specials,
Brechin, December 9, 10, 16, 17
and 23. A festive ride through
picturesque Angus countryside on
Brechin's historic branch line. Santa is
on board too! Phone 01356 622992.
Christmas Pudding Race, Melrose,
December 17. 13.1k (8.3 miles) of
undulations. Finishers will receive a
quality Christmas pudding instead of
a medal. Phone Chris Renton on
07702 070696.
Night Market, Balgove Garden, nr
St Andrews, December 12. Street
food straight from the BBQ, with
food and drink vendors, craft markets
and live music from local artists. Email
The Barber Of Seville, Birnam Arts
Centre, December 15. Rossini’s
comic opera that centres on the trio of
Rosina, Figaro and Count Almaviva.
Too Many Penguins, Burn o’
Bennie, Banchory, December 16.
Fun theatrical experience for all the
family that will entertain and delight.
Hogmanay Black Bun Special,
Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway,
December 30. Celebrate the end of
the year with a steam ride that
includes traditional black bun and tea
or coffee.
Peter Morrison’s Nearly New Year
Show, East Kilbride Village Theatre,
December 30. Join Peter and friends
for a musical countdown to the New
Year. Email villagetheatre@
Stonehaven Fireball Festival,
December 31. Keeps an ancient
custom alive as 45 participants swing
blazing balls of fire above their heads.
The Ba’, Kirkwall, Orkney,
December 25 and January 1.
Traditional game of mass football
played in the streets of the town
between the Uppies and the
New Year’s Day Bird Race,
Caerlaverock Wetland Centre,
10am-4pm. Join the Ranger and see
how many birds you can identify. For
more information, phone
01387 770200.
Loony Dook, South Queensferry,
January 1. Traditional icy dip in the
Forth that attracts thousands every
year. Fancy dress optional.
Around Scotland
Christmas Puppet-Making
Workshop, Mask and Puppet
Centre, December 16-17.
Everything is possible at this
workshop, from elves and reindeer to
a fairy for the tree or a snowman.
Phone 0141 3396185.
Cinderella, Citizens Theatre, until
December 31. A show full of silliness,
slapstick, music and fun makes for a
grand night out for all the family.
Phone 0141 290022.
André Rieu, SSE Hydro,
December 14. André brings his own
brand of popular music, along with
his Johann Strauss Orchestra.
Tinseltown, Royal Concert Hall,
December 16, 1pm and 3pm.
Children’s Classic Concerts present a
Christmas trip to the movies with the
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
and compères Owen Gunnell and
Oliver Cox.
IRN-BRU Carnival, SECC,
December 21-January 14. Europe’s
biggest indoor funfair, with traditional
rides, games, stalls and catering
outlets. A fun family day out.
Phone 0141 248 3000.
Basketball, Emirates Arena, London
Road, December 29. The Glasgow
Rocks take on the London Lions in
the British Basketball League.
G4, Greyfriars Kirk, December 13.
Well-loved and well-known songs in
the foursome’s pop-opera style.
Tradition And Tales Of Christmas,
Edinburgh Castle, December 19-22.
Discover the facts behind carols and
crackers. www.historicenvironment.
A Very Mary Christmas, Edinburgh
Castle, December 23. Find out how
Mary Queen of Scots celebrated
Christmas with her courtiers.
Folk Drama, Scottish Storytelling
Centre, December 28.
A participative guide to producing
and performing folk dramas.
Phone 0131 5569579.
Scotland’s Early Silver, National
Museum of Scotland, ongoing.
Discover the story of Scotland’s early
silver and how this precious metal
helped to shape the first kingdoms of
Sleep In The Park, Princes Street Gardens, December 9. A chance to
raise awareness of homelessness in Scotland by joining 9000 others for
an overnight sleepover in the gardens. A host of personalities will be
there to lend their support, including live performances by Deacon Blue
and Liam Gallagher and bedtime stories read by John Cleese. In the
morning, you’ll wake up to bacon rolls served by Rob Brydon and
Scottish Government Cabinet Ministers.
Torchlight Procession, George IV
Bridge, December 31, 7pm. The
opening event of Edinburgh’s
Hogmanay celebrations, which
welcomes over 25,000 people.
Candlelit Concert, St Giles
Cathedral, December 31. Music by
Bach and Mozart with the Cathedral
choir and the St Giles’ Camerata.
Phone 0131 225 9442.
Carols For All, Art Gallery &
Museum, December 14-15,
12.45pm. Lunchtime concerts with
a festive flavour.
Nippy Dipper Boxing Day Dip,
Aberdeen Beach, December 26.
Raise funds for charity with a dook in
the North Sea. Fancy dress optional.
Family Magic Show, Tivoli Theatre,
December 27, 2pm. A fun-filled
afternoon with magician Garry
Seagraves and Basil the live rabbit.
Aberdeen’s Hogmanay, Union
Terrace, December 31.
A spectacular fireworks display helps
to bring in the New Year in style.
A Christmas Carol, Dundee Rep,
until December 31. Charles Dickens’
tale is brought to the stage by director
Neil Duffield.
Dundee Ethical Christmas Fair,
City Square, December 2-23.
Shopping experience that brings
together people and products from
across the globe, with ethicallysourced food and locally-made arts
and crafts.
Next Month…
The Songs Of Lady Nairne,
Smith Art Gallery & Museum,
December 18. Nicola Cowmeadow
and Syde House discuss the works
of Lady Nairne (1776-1845).
There’s only one place
to see in Hogmanay in
Scotland – Edinburgh!
Karine Polwart, The Tolbooth,
December 15. Spend an evening
with one of Scotland’s finest
singer-songwriters and finest voices.
Box office 01786 274000.
1917: Total War, Black Watch
Castle and Museum, December 14.
A talk by Mike Taylor highlighting that
turbulent year at home and abroad.
Funbox: Santa’s Funtastic Factory,
Concert Hall, December 30.
Seasonal fun from a team ready to
make all your Christmas dreams
come true. Box Office
01738 621031.
The Bard’s work is
reborn at multi-arts
festival Burns Unbroke
Snow White, Eden Court, until
December 17. All the ingredients of a
family panto are here, with spectacular
sets and costumes and fabulous songs.
Box office 011463 234234.
What A Load Of Rubbish!, Dundee
Science Centre, December 11.
Burrow in the bins and discover
Scrapyard Science and the world of
engineering. Phone 01382 228800.
Winter Wonderland, Bught Road,
December 15. Whin Park is turned
into a wonderland with fantastic
illuminations for Santa and his
reindeer. Email gerry.reynolds@
Daredevil cyclist
Danny MacAskill with
news of a new project
ON SALE Dec 14, 2017
A Tale Of
Two Sides
Scots who fought on both sides
of the American Civil War are
commemorated in Edinburgh
HILE over in the United States earlier this year,
my partner and I took the opportunity to visit
some battlefields of the American Civil War.
It’s a historical event that has long fascinated me.
A dreadful carnage in which 620,000 Americans died
– more than in all other conflicts since. Shamefully I recall,
like many a 1960s child in Scotland, collecting picture
cards brought out for its centenary, some of which were
particularly gruesome.
Driving up the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, where
much of the conflict ebbed and flowed, we witnessed the
bleakness of the scene, accentuated by the coldness of
the weather. Crossing into Pennsylvania, the scale of
Gettysburg was more reminiscent of Flanders Fields than
the battlefield akin to Bannockburn or Culloden that
I’d imagined. That war saw Scotland’s sons fight
on both sides, as in many conflicts. That’s
something remembered in Edinburgh, and
remarkably memorials to both stand less than
3.2km (two miles) apart.
As Justice Secretary, my office in St Andrews
House looked out on Old Calton Cemetery where
there’s a statue to Abraham Lincoln, erected to
Scots who fought for the Union. It stands near
the entrance of one of Auld Reekie’s most
fascinating cemeteries; it also
contains philosopher David
Hume’s mausoleum, the obelisk
to political reformer Thomas
Muir and the radicals
transported to Australia, and
many other famous Scots.
A fitting location, then, for
the first statue of Lincoln
The memorial in
Dean Cemetery
erected outwith America – also perhaps apt given Old
Abe’s love for Robert Burns. Unveiled in 1893, it became
a major attraction for visiting Americans. It depicts freed
slaves and records names of Scottish soldiers who served
in Illinois, Maine, Michigan and New York Regiments.
After lobbying by a widow of one of the men, Wallace
Bruce, US Consul General in the 1890s, secured 602
subscriptions of $100 to fund the statue, including a
contribution from his friend Andrew Carnegie.
Yet in Dean Cemetery, on the edge of the west side of
the city centre, there’s a memorial erected by the Sons of
the Confederate Veterans. It’s dedicated to Colonel
Robert A. Smith who died on September 14, 1862, aged
26, while leading a charge at the Battle of Mumsfordhill,
Kentucky. He had been serving in the Mississippi
Regiment of the Confederate State Army.
Born in Edinburgh in 1836, Smith emigrated
to join a brother in Jackson, Mississippi, where
he enlisted in 1860. An early task was to escort
Jefferson Davis to Montgomery, Alabama where
he gave his inaugural speech as President of the
Confederate States of America. Rapid promotion
followed, as his rank discloses.
Another brother who owned a foundry in
Falkirk also played his part for the
Confederacy by supplying cannon.
Scots were as divided in their
loyalties at home as they were on
those foreign fields. There was a
deep abolitionist sentiment in
Scotland, especially through
the churches, which
generated sympathy for the
Union and had been ��
Scots faced each other
across the battlefield
There was a deep abolitionist
sentiment in Scotland…
From left: Robert E. Lee, Thomas “Stonewall”
Jackson, George B. McClellan and Jeb Stuart
Blockade Runners built in Clyde shipyards
may have lengthened the war by years
running for many years before the advent of war. Equally,
the cotton trade in particular saw mercantile interests in
the South’s economy – and some sympathy for the
perceived underdog – garner support for the Confederacy.
Fears of mills clanging permanently shut in Paisley were
echoed by hammers building Blockade Runners in Clyde
shipyards – ships which military historians suggest
continued the war by several years, keeping the South’s
economy going as the Union’s economic noose tightened.
My previous sojourns with Scottish societies across the
USA also showed the contribution on both sides. The
Chicago Scots Scottish American Hall of Fame houses
four civil war generals.
From the North, there’s General George B. McClellan,
ultimately sacked by Lincoln for not being aggressive
enough in prosecuting the war, though reputed to have
been acknowledged by Robert E. Lee as his finest
adversary. He stood unsuccessfully against Lincoln as the
Democratic Presidential candidate in 1864.
He’s joined by General Winfield Scott, a hero of the
war of 1812 against the British and subsequent Mexican
and Indian Wars. He was commanding office of the
United States Army when war broke out in 1861. Aged
74 and feeling too old for the conflict he offered the
command to a Colonel Robert E. Lee, whom he believed
was the ablest general in the army. That offer was politely
declined by the future Confederate General, and Scott
himself advised Lincoln on the defence of Washington DC
until his retiral soon after.
For the South, there’s Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson,
viewed as the finest of Lee’s generals. Pivotal in early
Confederate victories including the first Battle of Manassas
or Bull Run for the North, his stalwart defence earned him
his sobriquet. His death in what’s become known as
“friendly fire” was also seen as a turning point in the war.
He’s joined by James Ewell Brown “Jeb” Stuart. The
museum records him as a resourceful officer without
parallel as a cavalry leader. The reality was that his
marauding cavalry raids caused fear in Union ranks. His
most famous battle was Gettysburg, though historians are
split on his actions with the ultimate defeat of Lee’s army.
On another trip, the Charleston Scots detailed that the
secession of South Carolina was signed in their St Andrews
Hall, heralding guns opening up on Fort Sumter and the
bloody conflict commencing. They explained how the
Confederate Battle Flag, now seen as symbolic of a racist
South, contains the Saltire. Less controversially, Confederate
troops’ marching song was The Bonnie Blue Bonnets.
The battlefields of the American Civil War are haunting
and record tragedy and terrible loss of life. However, a
short stroll across Edinburgh offers a reminder that it also
divided Scotland and cost Scottish lives on both sides.
NEXT month former Justice Minister
Kenny MacAskill brings you another
fascinating tale of the Scottish
diaspora – the Scots who fought
Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
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Take A Walk
On The Wild Side
This alternative guide to Scotland takes you off the beaten track
ILD Things Publishing are well known
for their award-winning Wild Swimming
series and the popular The Scottish
Bothy Bible which came out earlier this year.
Daniel Start at Wild Things was just considering
that it was high time he published a wild guide to
Scotland when he was approached by Glasgowbased photographers and hillwalkers Kimberley
Grant, David Cooper and Richard Gaston, who
wanted to collaborate. It seemed the perfect match.
“He suggested we work on the new book in
their Wild Guide series,” explained Kimberley,
“which I was very excited about as it seemed to be
a natural fit – between us we had already travelled
around Scotland quite a bit and enjoyed spending
our free time in the Highlands, and of course
taking photographs.”
Kimberley had met future co-writers David and
Richard at university in Glasgow, and their passion
for exploring came from that familiar desire to
escape the stresses, big city, their studies and
part-time jobs – if only for the weekend.
“Richard and David did a lot of hillwalking
together and I was very interested in wild
swimming. We all liked the Wild Swimming book
series, and after discussing the idea on a drive
home from one of our trips I approached Daniel at
Wild Guides to find out if there were any projects
that we could get involved in.”
And so Wild Guide Scotland (WGS) was born,
and the trio spent the next two years using up all
their spare time exploring every nook of the country
from Shetland to Skye, and Barra to the Black Isle.
Luckily, this was not a hardship – Kimberley’s
desire to explore had developed at a young age
with campervan holidays with her grandparents
near their home in rural Perthshire.
“One of my fondest memories is visiting my
first wild swimming spot – a hidden pool in the
river near their home. We’d go paddling in the
river, exploring the pools, and collecting shiny
stones and bits of driftwood. Then we’d al l curl up
around a campfire with sandwiches, wrapped in
their tartan blankets.”
Following the example set by the Wild Swimming
series, Wild Guide Scotland has a wild ��
Grant (left),
David Cooper
(middle) and
Gaston (right)
swimming section with advice and a list of secret spots.
Other “Best For” sections include the best areas for
beaches, caves and history – with coordinates and
directions to each location.
The rest of the guide is split into regions, covering
everywhere north of the Central Belt. Researching the
guide took just under two years with Kimberley, Richard
and David spending all their free time travelling around
the regions picking up local tips.
Many places they discovered while travelling, but one
thing that they were certain of before they set out was
that they wanted to include something for all interests and
abilities – suitable for both children and adults, and with
something new for both visitors and natives.
“It features everything from a short, relaxing forest walk
where children could come along, to a six-hour-long
rough hike between rugged mountains for the more
experienced hillwalker. We’ve featured many beautiful
hidden beaches, peaceful lochs, eerie sea caves and the
water-based activities that you can do in or around them.
“I genuinely believe there is something for everyone in
the book. Even those who dislike the outdoors can find a
variety of interesting local food stops and places to stay.”
WGS lists more than 700 places to visit, ensuring
newcomers to any area of Scotland will be given ideas on
things to do and places to eat for a whole weekend.
While the seasoned Scottish traveller may find mostly
familiar territory within the WGS pages, it’s nonetheless a
great wee guide to some truly breathtaking places – ideal
for those who are setting foot in an area for the first time.
“Scotland has some of the best access rights in the
world,” says Kimberley. “That, paired with the fact the
land and seascapes are so incredibly beautiful, makes it
the perfect place for exploration.”
Glen Affric Lodge
Top Adventure Tips
When venturing off-path it’s important to respect
the countryside around you. Here are some top
tips from Wild Guide Scotland on being responsible
when you’re out and about.
1. Fasten all gates and if you must climb them, use
the hinged side.
2. Keep your dogs under close control, especially
around livestock and in nature reserves.
3. Keep to public paths unless you are on Access
4. Take your litter home, and gain good karma by
collecting other people’s.
5. If you wash in streams or rivers, only use
biodegradable soap, or none at all.
6. Take special care on country roads and park
7. Take map, compass, whistle and waterproof
clothing when venturing into remote or high areas.
8. Always tell someone where you are going, and do
not rely on your mobile phone.
A morning to remember in
Eas Fors on the Isle of Mull
Please visit our website for our full competition Ts&Cs or send
a large stamped self-addressed envelope to Scots Magazine Marketing, Copy of your
Competition Terms, DC Thomson, 2 Albert Square, Dundee DD1 9QJ.
Exploring North West Sutherland
Stac Pollaidh from a wild camp
Wild Guide
Scotland is
available in
bookshops and
online for £16.99 from
Wild Guide Publishing.
However, we’ve got nine
copies waiting to be won,
so head over to our
website for your chance
to win one!
Seasons come and go, but Scotland’s magical
beauty is timeless. The Scots Magazine Calendar 2018
includes a great spread of locations from all over the
nation from Galloway to Gardenstown.
Canadian, Australian and New Zealand key holiday
dates are included, in addition to those of the UK and
Ireland. This spectacular calendar makes a wonderful
gift for everyone who loves Scotland.
1 for £7.99 (SMC18)
2 for £13.50 (SC182) saving over 15%!
4 for £23.50 (SC184) saving over 25%!
6 for £30.00 (SC186) saving over 35%!
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21/06/2017 09:41
Test your knowledge
of Scotland with our
fascinating and
fun facts!
The drummer on The Beatles first single, Love Me Do, wasn’t
Ringo Starr but a Scottish session player called Andy White.
He was paid the princely sum of £5 for his services.
St Machar’s
in Aberdeen
is the only
cathedral in
the world
Scottish Deerhounds
were once known as
the Royal Dogs of
Scotland. Only those
with the rank of Earl
or above were
permitted to
own one.
Quomodocunquize, coined
by the Scottish writer, Thomas
Urquhart in 1652, means “to
make money by whatever
means possible”.
The first teaching hospital in
America, the Baltimore
Infirmary, was founded by
Glasgow surgeon Granville
Sharp Pattison in 1816.
In 1967, former Liberal Democrat leader Menzies “Ming”
Campbell beat O. J. Simpson in a 100m sprint race at Stanford
University with a time of 10.2 seconds.
Highland Games were a bit
more gory in olden days. In
the 1700s a popular event
was a competition to see who
could rip four legs off a dead
In 1006 after a battle at Durham,
the severed heads of Scottish
soldiers were put on spikes
around the town. The women
of Durham offered to trim the
dead men’s hair and beards in
return for a fee. Remarkably,
the Scottish widows agreed!
17th century residents on the
island of Eilean Mor had
some weird and wonderful
rules and regulations to follow.
They weren’t allowed to kill a
bird after evening prayers; eat
anything in private; or take
sheep suet back home. On
reaching the island’s summit,
they had to take off their hats
and make a sun-wise turn,
while giving thanks to God.
In 1967 while Sean Connery was
starring as James Bond, his younger brother,
Neil, was starring in a movie as James Bond’s
younger brother! It was called, rather
unimaginatively, Operation Kid Brother, and
by all accounts audiences were left shaken
not stirred by the plot.
The philosopher David
Hume attended Edinburgh
University at the age of 11
Britain’s three most influential war poets first got together at
Baberton Golf Club in Edinburgh. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried
Sassoon, who were already friends, met up with Robert Graves at
the club’s 19th hole in 1917. It’s been described as one of the most
influential meetings in English literature.
The world’s most expensive sheep was a
Scottish ram. Deveronvale Perfection was sold
in Lanark in 2009 for a staggering £231,000.
In the general election held in
June 2017, Glasgow Central was the only
place in the UK where you couldn’t vote
for a man. All four of the candidates for the
seat were female.
For more stunning Scots facts visit our
The world’s oldest comic is
Scottish. The Glasgow Looking
Glass, published in 1825, was
the first mass-produced
publication to tell stories using
illustrations. It casts a
satirical eye over 19th
century Scottish society,
poking fun at
the fashions
and politics
of the time.
Awards Announced
Scottish Outdoor & Leisure Awards Gala
names Scotland’s tourism sector winners
N October 29 the Scottish Outdoor & Leisure
Awards celebrated the best of the industry –
the outdoor and leisure businesses that play a
big part in cementing Scotland’s place among the world’s
top destinations.
Over the summer you voted in your thousands to get
your favourite outdoor and leisure businesses into the
The Best Scottish Tours
team at the awards night
final, and an independent judging panel then picked the
winner in each of the 17 categories.
At a glittering gala at the Glasgow Marriott, the winners
were announced. We’re the Awards’ official media
partners, and our Sally Hampton presented one of them!
You can find the list of winners, plus Sally’s review online:
Images: SOLAwards; Neil Robertson
More from our online pages…
Gift Shop
Looking for the perfect Christmas
gift? Look no further than our
Scottish Gift shop for clothing, prints
and, of course, The Scots Mag
Speaking Scots
Don’t miss the fascinating updates
from our archives on descriptive old
Scots words that are coming back
into fashion.
Off The Beaten Track
Discover the best little-known historic sites and quirky places to visit. Click
on our Places tab to see our latest updates.
Follow us…
The Scots Magazine
Book Giveaway!
We’re giving away a bundle of our
favourite Scottish guides, novels and
non-fiction books – check online to
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