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The Scots Magazine - November 2017

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NOV 2017
The greatest photography
from the North Coast 500 –
Scotland’s ultimate road trip
Competitions and offers open to UK residents
only, unless otherwise stated
Glen Lyon –
where history and
mythology combine
Welcome to...
Up Where
We Belong
NOTHER hill climbed! Although this picture of my
mate Andy Hood and me could be just about
anywhere, it’s actually the summit of Mont Blanc.
For a brief moment last month, at 4810m (15,781ft),
we were the highest people in Western Europe… well,
apart from another pair of climbers who kindly took our
photo. But we were taller than them.
Technically, Mont Blanc is an easy ascent – we did
tougher routes that week. But with the altitude, and a
less-than-wise one day of acclimatisation, it felt pretty
tough. Every step was exhausting.
But I fulfilled a long-held ambition and, despite bitter
cold and biting wind, to stand on that summit was truly
marvellous. It was my first Alpine trip. I was awe-struck by
the savage beauty of ridge after ridge of knife-edge peaks
in a perfect combination of rock, ice and snow. For one
who loves mountains, it was a vision of heaven.
While there, I learned Scotland was voted most
Search: The Scots Magazine
beautiful country in the world by readers of the Rough
Guides travel books. Yet here I was, surrounded by a
landscape of breath-taking beauty.
The poll made me consider what that means and
whether Scotland deserves to top such a list.
I believe it does. Sure, our mountains aren’t the
highest, our rivers the longest, nor our forests the biggest.
But what varied landscapes, in such a small area, we have.
Rolling hills, jagged peaks, verdant farm land, the most
incredible beaches. I think Scotland’s beauty is more than
the sum of its parts. It’s not just the physical landscape,
stunning as that is. It has a spirit that imbues the land. It’s a
feeling. It’s our people, our history, culture, our passion
and humour. Even our weather. It makes for an
astonishing package that’s hard to beat. Indeed, according
to the Rough Guides poll, one that can’t be beaten.
Follow us:
Digital editions
8 Great Scottish Journeys
The final part of our fab trip
along the North Coast 500
60 Cameron’s Country
80 Scotland’s War
Savour glorious Glen Lyon
with Cameron McNeish
Scottish soldiers who made
the ultimate sacrifice
22 Chocolate – And Gin! 66 Take A Hike
Perth’s collection of
mini-festivals to celebrate
local produce
25 Eight Museum Marvels
Amazing artefacts you must
see at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove
Art Gallery & Museum
Nature and industrial
heritage at the Falls of Clyde
68 On
Your Bike
Test yourself at Tentsmuir
Great Gear Guide
We review the latest
outdoor gear and clothing
75 Polly’s People
Scottish Bookshelf
Thrilling interview with
risk-taking author George R
Mitchell, plus latest reviews
Polly Pullar meets the vets
caring for Scotland’s wildlife
A Wee Blether…
With expert Perthshire
brewer, Ken Duncan, from
Inveralmond Brewery
Preserved For Posterity
An incredible 400-year-old
Edinburgh building is saved
from demolition
Wild About Scotland
Nature expert Jim Crumley
on the link between people
and mountains
Focus On The Borders
The best to see and do in
our beautiful border country
Sound Of Scotland
Your music columnist
Lisa-Marie Ferla looks at
who’s on tour this autumn
“ ”
An adult beaver
is the size of a
chubby spaniel
Get ready to go
on a beaver hunt!
Word Of Th
100 Carina’s Kitchen
Fulsome flavours of
delicious Scottish
French cuisine!
g pale
and sickly
This Month
102 Slàinte Mhath
Your whisky expert Euan
Duguid on a historic
distillery with a bright future
If You Do One Thing…
Climb a Munro by train! We profile the best hills to reach
by rail… you still have to walk up them though, page
If You Read One Thing…
Make it our exclusive interview
with Scots rowing legend Dame
Katherine Grainger, page
If You Go One Place…
It’s got to be west coast jewel Mallaig, venue for A Write
Highland Hoolie Writing Festival, page
Eat, Sleep, Drink…
the Reviews
Profiling Scotland’s best
hotels and restaurants
111 Around Scotland
The most exciting events
from across the country
Kenny MacAskill’s
Roots And Branches
How the 1917 Russian
revolution affected Scotland
120 Robert Moyes Adam
Profile of the legendary
Scots photography pioneer
who died 50 years ago
In Sweden, Highland cattle are
the only breed permitted
by law to winter outside.
More amazing
Scottish facts
November 2017
New series, Vol. 185,
No 11 First published
in 1739
Meet Your Writers
Fiona Russell
Multi-award-winning outdoors writer, blogger
and columnist who goes by the online name of
FionaOutdoors. Her passions are hillwalking,
running, cycling and skiing. Fiona’s a keen
Munro-bagger – Scotland’s hills over 3000ft
(914m). This month, she shares the best to climb
by train. Well, you can get to them by train… you
still need to climb on foot! See page 56
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 2015,
Online Presence of the
Year 2015, 2014
Front Cover of the Year
2015, 2014
Feature Writer of the
Year 2015
PPA Scotland Magazine
Kenny McAskill
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. In this issue, Kenny
examines how the October 1917 Bolshevik
Revolution led to the Red Flag being hoisted over
Glasgow’s George Square. See page 116
Polly Pullar
A writer, photographer, naturalist and wildlife
rehabilitator with a passion for the natural world.
Polly has contributed to The Scots Magazine for
the past 30 years. Author of six books, including
the recent The Red Squirrel – A Future in the
Forest, with photographer Neil McIntyre. This
month, Polly brings you an insight into the
fascinating work of wildlife vets. See page 75
Jim Crumley
Highly acclaimed journalist and author whom
many regard as the best wildlife writer currently
working in Scotland. Jim, author of 30-plus
books, is a passionate advocate for the reintroduction of extinct native species. He’s been
our resident wildlife expert for a decade. This
issue, Jim reflects on the work of mountaineer
and writer W H Murray. See page 94
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Great Scottish
Join Keith Fergus for part five of our epic journey on the
stunning North Coast 500. This final section takes you from
Dunnet Head in the far north to Highland capital Inverness
The A9 is picked up as the route heads into Sutherland
Dunnet Head Lighthouse to Orkney
A distant view of Morven and Maiden Pap
Words and pictures: KEITH FERGUS
The spectacular Duncansby Sea Stacks at dawn
A sense of space and enormous skies
HE eastern side of the North Coast 500
may not have the immediate impact that
the huge mountains of its western fringes
provide but spend some time immersing
yourself in the landscape of Caithness,
Sutherland and Ross & Cromarty and you
may not want to leave. It is spectacular.
The route visits the most northerly and
northeasterly points of mainland Scotland
– Dunnet Head and Duncansby Head
respectively – where the views out to the
Orkney Islands are breathtaking, as is the
array of wildlife.
Heading south through Wick,
Latheronwheel and Helmsdale it is the sense
of space, and enormous skies, that really
captures the spirit of this quieter portion of
Scotland. The route also passes Dornoch,
which is home to one of our finest beaches,
before the final few miles head along the
Cromarty Firth to Inverness.
Combine the scenery and wildlife with
some of Scotland’s best-known whisky
distilleries and you have the perfect finale to
the North Coast 500.
Rainbow over the Cromarty Firth
Many Caithness place names are from Norse
Dornoch is home to a
gorgeous sandy beach
The North Coast 500
finishes at Inverness
The championship links of
Royal Dornoch Golf Course
Fact File
l Puffins, razorbills, guillemots,
fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and
cormorants – just a small selection
of the wildlife at Dunnet Head.
l Duncansby Head Lighthouse
has guided ships through the
notorious Pentland Firth since 1924.
l Whisky distilleries along this
section of the NC500 include Old
Pulteney, Clynelish and
Glenmorangie, one of the world’s
best selling whiskies.
l As you would expect, the Norse
language plays a major role in the
place names of Caithness. Wick,
for instance, translates from Vik
simply as Bay while Brora means
Place of the Bridge’s River.
l Donald Ross was born in
Dornoch in 1872 and went on to
be one of the finest golf course
designers in the world – he
designed courses in Scotland,
America, Canada and even Cuba.
Next month: Join Keith as he explores the magnificent East Neuk of Fife
We live in a fabulous country for adventures.
Share yours with our social media hashtag…
Scott @scottlackenby Sept 15
@instagraeme77 looking over
the Glencoe summits to the
Mamores and Ben Nevis shrouded
in the clouds.
Ian G Black @iangblack Sept 13
It’s very early morning. The midges
are up and feeding – there’s only one
place to hide!
Louise Ward September 15
Staying near Aberfeldy and saw this
young cygnet carrying out pre-flight
checks #OutAndAboutScotland
Janice Johnstone September 8
Sunset over Taransay, from Seilebost, Isle of Harris.
The Scots Magazine Team Get Around Too!
Sally was one of the lucky ballot
winners who got the chance to
walk the Queensferry Crossing.
Here she is with her mum,
Sandra, enjoying the fun.
Grant took part in the Argyll
Classic Car Tour in his 1967 Ford
Mustang, the highlight of which
was two runs up the historic Rest
And Be Thankful hillclimb course.
Sarah spent an afternoon at
Inveraray Castle – at the same
time as six coachloads of cruise
passengers from Greenock. Clearly
the Downton Abbey effect!
Finding A Neish@findinganeish
Sep 5
Never saw a single deer on the Isle of
Raasay (literally “deer island”); spent
five minutes down at the Dighty Burn
and… #OutAndAboutScotland
Stewart Paul @StewartP
Sep 9
a joy to see.
Sunset at North Berwick,
#EastLothian #BassRock
Gregor Lützenburg
Sept 15
Always stay a child.
Diane Maxwell @diane.max84
Sept 17
Glencoe Lochan so peaceful and
tranquil this morning. Autumnal
colours coming through.
Brian Laird @B_ri_Laird Sep 14
Bit of a windswept day’s walking
on the Cairnwell Munros. Kind of
weird without the snow!
Sandra Cassie September 12
Ian & Hamish on holiday near
Sango Sands, Durness.
Share your #OutAndAboutScotland
pics with us on Twitter, Facebook
or Instagram for a chance to be
featured next month!
Follow us…
The Scots Magazine
016_SMG_191017.indd 16
04/10/2017 11:06:42
Ready For
The Next
Rowing ace Katherine Grainger is keen
to pass on the secrets of her success
HE’S Scottish. She’s Great Britain’s most decorated
Olympian. She’s Dame Katherine Grainger. And now the
hugely successful rower can look forward to bringing all her
sporting experience to bear in a role that will help develop the
next generation of British sporting champions.
In July she was awarded rowing’s most prestigious award, the
Thomas Keller Medal for an Outstanding Career in Rowing, and
she can look forward to 2018 in her role as Chair of UK Sport, a
position awarded to her by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.
These accolades follow her being made Dame of the British
Empire earlier this year for her contribution to British sport.
“Dame Katherine?” she laughs. “That’s not something I would
have imagined in a million years, but I’m very, very proud of it.”
Credit where credit’s due. Rower Sir Steve Redgrave calls her
an iconic figure in the world of rowing. It takes a great champion
to know another, but Sir Steve’s estimation of Katherine stems
from watching her raw talent blossom into the skills of a world
class athlete and Great Britain’s most decorated female Olympian.
The words of multi-gold medallist Redgrave are as important
to Katherine as anything else she has achieved.
“Steve’s kind words mean a huge amount to me,” she says. “I
was very lucky with my timing as my first Olympics with the
team was his last. I was training alongside him, Matthew Pinsent,
Tim Foster and James Cracknell when they competed in the
Men’s Four race in Sydney, 2000.
“Steve is a huge role model and legend, not just within our
sport all sports at Olympic level. He is recognised as one of the
all-time greats yet he’s incredibly humble and easy to talk to.
When someone like that gives you praise, it means everything.”
From September 24 to October 1, Katherine swapped oars for
a microphone as she headed to Florida for the World Rowing
Championship, where she was part of the BBC commentary team. ��
With Vicky Thornley
Winning silver in Rio
Dame Katherine
The finals in Rio – the most challenging
build-up to any race that I’ve ever had
“I love working with the BBC,” she says, “and it’s a real
privilege to be still closely involved with a sport that I love.
It can sometimes be heart-breaking to watch, and have to
commentate on, especially if you know the athletes and
understand the huge amount of work they have put into
the preparation.
“But the unpredictability of sport is one of the huge
attractions and so you have to expect there will be highs
and lows all the time. That’s what helps to create such
wonderful drama.”
Success has never been far from Katherine, as her
extremely impressive CV shows – one Olympic gold, four
silvers, and six World Championships. The last medal, a
silver in the double sculls in the Rio Olympics with Vicky
Thornley, was a surprisingly successful end to a
distinguished career.
“Three months away from the Games we weren’t
definitely going to Rio,” she says. “Had we got there, there
was even more doubt whether we would make the final.
016_SMG_191017.indd 18
So to actually finish with a medal was a great result. Any
Olympic medal is good; something of an understatement!
“I tried to be the best I possibly could be and that was
aiming to win every race I competed in. But that was the
most challenging build-up to any race I’ve ever had. It
wasn’t as if people were doubting us. It’s just that our form
wasn’t the best in the weeks leading up to the Games.”
For someone with such a successful career, you’d
have thought Katherine had been involved in rowing from
an early age.
“I didn’t start young,” she admits, “and when I did,
my sister Sarah had more of an aptitude than I did. She
was the natural.
“I grew up in Glasgow and didn’t get in a boat until I
was about 15 or 16. My next-door neighbours at the time
were at the Clydesdale Rowing Club at Glasgow Green
every weekend. They always had boats outside their
house so I was aware of rowing and the boat club, but I
never went myself.
04/10/2017 11:07:10
Above: ecstatic at
winning gold in
London with Anna
Right: winning silver
with Mirrian Batten,
Guin Batten and
Gillian Lindsey in
Below: In her role as
Chair of UK Sport
Far below: With an
award from her peers
“Then they invited me and my sister and we went out
on the Clyde. I never thought I’d do it again. But when I
went to university, I fell into rowing completely by
accident. I was hooked by the friends I made in my first
and second year. The people, the rowing club and the
atmosphere all pulled me into thinking I could be good
at this sport.”
Very soon these thoughts would become reality.
Katherine’s growing success in the Edinburgh
University Rowing Club saw her elected President in
1996, but her affiliation with the university didn’t end
on graduation. She was twice voted the university
Sports Union female athlete of the year, in 1995/76
and 1996/97, and was inducted into the Sports Hall of
Fame in 2008.
“The girls whom I rowed with at university became
friends for life,” she continues. “So much so that I am
godmother to three of their children.”
Katherine’s last successful partnership was with Vicky
Thornley in Rio, but she also enjoyed success with Sarah
Winckless and Anna Watkins.
“The crucial thing is that we don’t choose the
partners,” she says. “It’s the coach who makes that
decision. You can have some input but you never have
the choice. That partnership has to be incredibly close,
very intense and intimate. Sometimes, when it’s
someone you haven’t chosen, it works immediately but
sometimes it takes a while to develop.”
The double-acts with Winckless, Watkins and
Thornley would turn into friendships for life, but
Katherine’s bond with Sarah, with who she won World
Championships in 2005 and 2006, involves more than
just sport. When Sarah was diagnosed with Huntington’s
Disease, their friendship became even stronger.
“As a close friend I support her as and when I can,
but she is the most impressive person who can handle
the situation with amazing dignity, grace and courage,”
continues Katherine. “She hasn’t let it really affect her life
as she is still very ambitious, capable and driven.
“I wouldn’t say it dominates her life or her friendships
in a great way, but she is unbelievably positive about life
and has been from the first time I met her. ��
Katherine attended Bearsden Academy and in
higher education holds an LLB at the University
of Edinburgh, and LM in medical law at the
University of Glasgow amd PhD in law at King’s
College, London.
016_SMG_191017.indd 19
04/10/2017 11:07:22
Hold on to
that enjoyment
and passion,
they’ll get you
a long way
Pictures: ??????????????????????
Competing in the final
in the Rio Olympics
“I don’t think there’s an instruction manual on how to
cope or react to these things. No-one plans for it and you
deal with it when those cards are dealt to you. However,
in some ways I think it’s slightly more difficult because of
what she has achieved in her life. The fact it could be cut
short at any time is hard to deal with.”
It is hoped Katherine’s rowing success will inspire
youngsters to take up the sport. She remembers one lady
who gave her the required inspiration.
“Edinburgh Boat Cub had a rower called Dot Blackie
who became the first female captain of the club. She went
on to row for Great Britain in the Olympics. Being in the
same club as her made me think it was all possible.
“Amateur rowing in Scotland is flourishing so there will
always be young Katherine Graingers coming through the
ranks. There are a lot of people who show potential and
ability but that’s when the tough work starts. You might
have all the potential in the world, but it is a lot of hard
work. I’m very positive as I think it’s always good for
people to come in and replace you and, who knows,
maybe go further than you have done.
Further than this amazing athlete? That will take some
doing, but there may be someone waiting in the wings
with the drive and focus to emulate or even surpass
Katherine’s amazing achievements.
“I had no idea when I started where it would lead
016_SMG_191017.indd 20
me,” she says. “I started because I loved it, and if you
enjoy it and hold onto that enjoyment and passion from
the start, that will get you a long way.
“There are actually no limits and people can do
extraordinary things that they don’t know they’re capable
of. That’s the excitement and challenge of sport.”
And, finally, where does Rusty the Bear come into
the equation?
“I inherited him when my gran died,” Katherine says,
“and ever since then he has come with me to all my
training camps. Everyone in the squad got to know him.
He just stayed in my bedroom and we’d chat to him
and offload.”
Although no longer physically involved in sport,
Katherine is looking forward to another bumper year.
“2018 is going to be yet another incredible year for
sport, especially multi-event competitions,” she says.
“For example, the Winter Olympics and Paralympics will
be in February and March in South Korea, then the
Commonwealth Games are in April in Australia and
then the European Championships – which is a new
multi-sport event – will be in August in Scotland.
“If the European Championships in Glasgow gets
anywhere near the levels of support, excitement and
enthusiasm that we saw at the 2014 Commonwealth
Games, then it’ll be a hugely memorable event.”
04/10/2017 11:07:29
Chocolate –
And Gin!
An exciting Perth festival has
grown into several “minifests”
celebrating more local produce
OUR years ago, the Perth
Chocolate Festival had its
first tentative event with just
15 stalls along the city’s High
Street. It has grown into this
year’s Chocolate and Gin Street
Festival weekend with more
than 40 trading stalls, chocolate
workshops, street entertainers
– and an added Cake Fest and
Zuppa soup competition
providing the icing on this
particular cake.
“Perthshire is Scotland’s larder,” says Leigh Brown from
Perth and Kinross Council, “so we just thought we’d take
what we’re best known for and just really expand it!
“We wanted to have a festival to add into the
Christmas lights switch-on event, and started thinking
about chocolate baubles on the tree, selection boxes…
a Chocolate Festival made sense, and it has just grown
from there.
“We’ve had the Chocolate Festival for the past three
years, but this is the first year we’ve incorporated gin into
it. Last year we had a couple of suppliers who came
because they had chocolate-flavoured gin, which went
down really well so we thought why don’t we do the two
first time
“weThishaveis the
gin into the festival
favourite things at Christmas time – chocolate and gin!”
Among the top gins on offer will be Redcastle Gin, one
of the newest Scottish craft gins on the market, having had
its sell-out launch in August. Already the Redcastle team
are bottling round the clock to keep up with demand, but
they’ve set aside some bottles for the festival, to serve with
their signature garnish of pink peppercorns and a
wonderful twist of lime.
Perth’s city centre will be a feast for all the senses
across Saturday and Sunday, November 18, and 19 –
tantalising smells of melting chocolate, the soft clinking
of gin goblets, twinkling Christmas lights, hands-on
workshops and craft stalls, and samples galore from the
cake fest.
“At the Cake Fest, different landmarks from across
Perth and Kinross will be on display in cake form! Plus, at
the end of the day the cakes will be sampled off to
So says Simon Preston, food innovator and Cake Fest
creator, who has developed cake festivals in Newcastle,
Gateshead, Preston and as part of the London 2012
Cultural Olympiad.
In 2015 he brought the idea north to his home town of
Edinburgh where they made a cake map of the capital,
featuring Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument in
sponge and icing.
Now Simon is appealing for bakers to craft the
landmarks of Perth and Kinross into cakes. Crieff Hydro,
the Birnam Oak and the Pitlochry Salmon Ladder are
all up for grabs – so if you fancy trying your hand at
cake sculpting get in touch with Simon at
The grand unveiling of Cake Fest Perth and Kinross will
take place on Sunday, November 19, at Horsecross Plaza.
The fully edible landscape will be modelled under cover
and throughout the day bakers are invited to add their
creations to the masterpiece.
Once the map has been completed, and people have
had the chance to admire it, the cake buildings will be
sliced up and shared with festivalgoers.
You can also enter the Zuppa Soup Competition by
sending in your soup recipes to be made by the next
generation of top chefs from Perth College.
The soups will be served up on Sunday for a public
vote and the winning recipe will receive a £500 Perth Gift
Card, valid in 80 local shops, cafés and restaurants!
Foodies simply cannot afford to miss the Chocolate
and Gin Street Festival. The festival itself is free, but some
of the workshops and events require tickets, so sign up at
Pictures: © THE ARTIST
Eight Museum Marvels!
This month, we visit Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum,
one of Glasgow’s most iconic places, in our continuing series
ITUATED on the banks of the River Kelvin
in the city’s west end, Kelvingrove Art
Gallery and Museum reopened in 2006
after a three-year refurbishment which cost
nearly £28 million.
The following year, an amazing 2.23 million
visitors passed through its doors.
The museum is one of Scotland’s most
popular free attractions, featuring 22 themed
galleries which display 8000 amazing objects.
The “jewel in the crown” of Kelvingrove’s exhibits is Salvador
Dali’s painting of Christ of St John of the Cross, which was bought
for £8200 amidst some controversy in the early 1950s by Director
of Glasgow Museums, Tom Honeyman. It is currently on loan to
the Royal Academy of Arts in London. However, there is much
more to delight all tastes and all ages.
We asked museum manager Neil Ballantyne (above) to choose
his top eight exhibits and why they appeal so much to him.
The Scotsman
“The Scotsman by Ron O’Donnell.
(pictured above) is displayed in
our Scottish Identity In Art gallery,
which examines how artists have
depicted Scotland and the Scots
over the years,” says Neil.
“O’Donnell has combined
everything stereotypically Scottish,
from newspapers to kilts and
depicted his figure of the Scotsman,
with a football for a head, presumably
because he thinks Scottish males
only think about football.”
Neil says, “For many British people, the Spitfire is an iconic aircraft. This
particular Spitfire was built in 1946 and was flown by 602 City of Glasgow
Squadron. The Spitfire has been suspended above the West Court since 2005
and on November 11, 2015, it was lowered to the ground in order that the airframe
and the cables and shackles that held it in position could be checked.
I watched the team lowering the Spitfire pause and observe the two minutes silence for
Armistice Day, which provided a particularly poignant moment for me.”
The Last
Of The Clan
“The Last Of The Clan,
painted in 1865 by
Thomas Faed, depicts
Scottish emigrants
forcibly cleared from
their land and about
to leave Scotland
forever,” says Neil.
“It’s one of my
favourite pictures
due to the connection
with my own family
history, which
resulted in my
ancestors emigrating
to Canada, South
Africa, Australia and
New Zealand.”
Anna Pavlova
“Anna Pavlova, by John Lavery, is
another of my favourite pictures mainly
because of the way in which Lavery
depicts the joy in movement of the
famous ballerina,” says Neil. This
picture has prompted dancers from
Scottish Ballet to visit the museum and
was also inspiration for one little girl,
who accurately mimicked the pose of
Pavlova captured in a photograph by
her mother. It went viral after
appearing on Kelvingrove’s
Facebook page.”
“This leopard was originally from a zoo in Glasgow and
came to the museum collection after its death. For
many years the leopard remained in the freezer
until the redisplay of the west court area in 2015
provided the funds to get the Leopard treated and
mounted for display. It now “stalks” the migrating
animals in the Serengeti display in a case purchased by
the Friends of Glasgow Museums,” says Neil. ��
Van Gogh Portrait
Of Alexander
“This painting is often mistaken for a
self-portrait by Van Gogh, due to the
physical similarity the of the artist
and subject,” says Neil. “Alexander
Reid was an art dealer from Glasgow
who purchased works in France for
sale to Glasgow’s wealthy 19th
century industrialists. Van Gogh and
Reid were on friendly terms and it’s
said they often went drinking
together, resulting in many local
French being unable to tell them
apart – in appearance or speech.”
German Armour, 1500-10
“Of course, this animal isn’t really an
animal at all, but was in fact “created”
by the imagination of our Conservators
from various parts of other natural
history specimens that were stuck
together,” adds Neil. “Its presence in
the Scotland’s Wildlife gallery is a
good-natured joke that Scottish people
readily understand, although it can
sometimes puzzle some of our foreign
visitors. I think this object is an
important reminder that although
museums provide an important
educational resource, they can also be
a source of fun and enjoyment.”
n Next Month : McManus Galleries, Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum
“Many people rightly regard the Pembroke Armour as being the star item in
Kelvingrove’s collection,” says Neil. “However, my favourite is the German armour or
“harness” located next to it, which provides a stark contrast with the grandeur of Lord
Pembroke’s armour. The German armour is much more plain and functional in
appearance, but carries an air of professional menace. The armour was probably
made in Nuremburg, Glasgow’s twin town in Germany, around 1500.
The armour, together with the weaponry displayed with it, leave me in no
doubt that the man who wore it knew his trade all too well.”
A Wee Blether With…
Master Brewer
We talk beer and
bagpipes with the
Inveralmond Brewery
Above Left and above:
Head brewer Ken checks
the quality of the
produce, while the team at
Inveralmond work
painstakingly to create the
finest beers
Does it seem like 20 years
since Inveralmond opened?
It seems about 50! As time goes on,
when we look back we say, “Oh
goodness me, that was only
yesterday – almost!”
Home brewing was your first venture into
beer-making. How did that start?
I spent time in Australia, I was used to pubs with a large
range of beer. Down Under, only two or three were
available. My girlfriend bought me a home brew kit and
that’s how it all started. The first batch was pretty good,
considering. It was a Scottish ale, and we polished it off in
about three days. So I just kept trying and doing different
From Perth, Australia, to Perth, Scotland. Quite
a change?
It was in a way, but I had a great career in brewing in
Australia and I was able to transfer those skills over to here
at Inveralmond.
What is the secret of Scottish beer?
Ken’s favourite
Inveralmond beer –
Lia Fail
If you were washed up on a desert island, what
case of Inveralmond would you take with you?
I would take Lia Fail. It h as so much depth and flavour. It
opens the mouth and opens the eyes! It’s the essence of
Scotland in a glass!
Your hobby takes you from beer pipes to
Yes! I play in the pipe band of the Duke of Atholl’s private
army at Blair Atholl so that’s a great privilege and an
honour. It’s also an awful lot of fun!
It’s well over a year since Innes & Gunn took
over at Inveralmond. What has changed?
Oh, they have been an incredible boost for business
because we’ve been able to double our capacity. That
means much more beer is coming out of the brewery.
More beer, more people, more jobs.
Good Scottish malted barley is part of it. We’ve also got
beautiful soft water which we can do anything with. But
more importantly, we’ve got quality people who are
passionate and really care about what they do. We’ve got
to love our beer but we want people to love it too.
Beer is your favourite tipple. Do you ever drink
whisky or anything else?
How do you come up with the names of beers,
like Lia Fail?
So the future’s rosy?
Everyone puts three names in a hat, then we start a voting
system. It’s quite simple, really. Lia fail means Stone of
Destiny. Quite fitting as we’re so near Scone!
I love whisky but I tend to drink more blended whisky
than single malts. But we’ve got some amazing things in
Scotland. We’re so lucky to be part of it.
Absolutely! Increased production, different kinds of beers.
It’s very exciting for the beer enthusiast but my job as a
brewer is to improve the human condition through the
medium of beer!
FOCUS ON… The Borders
Calm reflection at Kelso
and the River Tweed
Your fabulous 9-page guide
to one of the most stunning regions of Scotland
A Land Of History
And Adventure
Picture: ALAMY
FOCUS ON… The Borders
A Wealth
of History
Heritage with a royal twist is among
the many attractions of Jedburgh
ITUATED 10 miles north of the English border on the
Jed Water, a tributary of the Teviot, the town of
Jedburgh has always been a place of strategic
importance, both military and economic.
Its castle was demolished in 1409 and on its site now
stands Jedburgh Jail, built in the 1820s and considered
one of the finest examples in the country.
In the town’s Queen Street, fittingly named as you will
see, stands a late 16th-century town house, once the
home of Mary, Queen of Scots. It is now a fascinating
museum that details her life and loves and her ultimately
tragic end.
A beautifully restored painting
in Mary, Queen of Scots’ House
Shona Sinclair is manager and curator of both buildings
and realises the importance of each in the historical and
cultural life of Jedburgh.
“Both sites are key visitor attractions in Jedburgh and
are have rich stories to tell,” she says. “They are about
people and places and illustrate how every town and
burgh in Scotland has played an important role in the
development of Scotland.
“Who would think that a small border town would
have one of the best examples of a Howard Reform
prison or have played such a key role in the life of Mary,
Queen of Scots?”
The queen stayed in the town in 1566 while
recuperating from a fever. Shona reveals, “Mary is quoted
as having said, ‘Would that I had died in Jedburgh’ as
when she left the town, her life took a turn for the worse
which would quickly lead to her downfall.”
The queen is surely one of Scottish history’s most
iconic characters, and the museum contains many quaint
objects that have been donated over the years.
“She has fascinated people throughout history,” Shona
continues. “Sir Walter Scott was a fan and collected items
said to have belonged to her.
“We have a scrap of wood said to have come from the
boat in which she escaped from Loch Leven. We also
have a shoe that was said to have been left by Mary in
Jedburgh and a lock of her hair, which was found hidden
in a bureau in Holyrood Palace.”
The jail is certainly a more grisly attraction and recent
The house fit for a
queen to recuperate
Inside Jedburgh
Castle Jail
Mary’s death
close the jail in winter, as the
and dark for visitors!
renovation has restored some interior cells to much the
same condition as 200 years ago.
“There are two separate cell blocks open to the
public,” continues Shona. “One has been refurbished to
reflect what conditions must have been like and the other,
the Bridewell, has been left much as it has been since it
was closed as a prison. It is particularly cold and grim.
“We have recreated furnished cells with mannequin
prisoners and lots of information about the conditions, the
types of crime and the prisoner who would have spent
time here. We have to close over the winter months, as
the cells are so cold and dark they would be a little too
grim for today’s visitors!”
The former jailor’s house is now a museum that tells
the story of Jedburgh from the earliest times to the present
day. There’s also a room dedicated to famous people who
came from or are associated with Jedburgh, from David
Brewster (1781-1868), Scots Magazine editor and
inventor of the stereoscope and kaleidoscope, to Mary
Somerville, the scientist and astronomer.
“We have lots for visitors to do, particularly children
and families. We have kids’ guides, foreign language
guides and audio tours which can be purchased.
Throughout the jail there are hands-on activities and a
section called Fit for Jail where children can dress up and
fill in an entry sheet – their height, weight, health, hair
colour etc, just as would have been recorded when
children were locked up for petty crimes.
“Our visitor numbers are on the increase and we find
that the growth of social media and the internet has
helped us greatly. With the jail, it is definitely the building
itself and its time as a prison which are the main draw.
With the house, it is the famous association with Mary
which makes it such an appealing attraction.” ��
The words of Rule Britannia were written by
the 18th century poet James Thomson.
He was born in the neighbouring village of
Ednam and attended grammar school in
Jedburgh from 1712. The words were set to
music in 1740 by Thomas Arne.
FOCUS ON… The Borders
It’s All Go At Glentress
Mountain bikers, walkers, osprey fans, adventurers and
aspiring marksmen and women are all welcome here!
ITY dwellers in Scotland are lucky that the great
outdoors is often less than an hour’s drive away.
This is certainly true for citizens of Edinburgh, who
have the Borders hills almost on their doorstep.
The forest trails of Glentress, near Peebles, are a
favourite haunt – and with the variety of activities on offer,
it’s no wonder. Walking, biking, tree-top fun, magnificent
scenery, an osprey centre and excellent catering facilities
– Glentress caters for all ages and abilities.
Much work has gone in
over the years to ensure this
Saddling up for
a thrill ride
section of the Tweed Valley
Forest Park offers outstanding
recreational facilities.
“We have planned and
developed 22km (almost 14
miles) of purpose-built walking
trails and 72km (45 miles) of
mountain bike trails,” says
recreation manager Hugh McKay. “On average, Glentress
welcomes in the region of 300,000 visitors per year. Forest
Enterprise Scotland and our business partners of Alpine
Bikes, GoApe and the Peebles Hydro Hotel all work hard
to diversify, refresh and improve.”
A prime reason for Glentress’s popularity is that it
contains one of the 7stanes mountain biking centres that
span the south of Scotland, the combination of which
means an economic injection of almost £13 million
income per year. These attract bikers from all over the
world, with Glentress offering particularly excellent biking.
“For sheer diversity of trails, it’s hard to beat Glentress,”
says The Scots Magazine’s cycling correspondent Alex
Corlett. “With routes graded from green for beginners, to
black for experts, less confident riders can develop their
skills and fitness, and experienced riders will find the
swooping blues and reds as much fun as the black trails.
“The tough trails are rideable in all but heavy snow,
meaning you’re guaranteed a good day out year round.”
The area is also an attraction for nature lovers, with
Glentress boasting one of two Tweed Valley osprey watch
centres. Nest cameras were installed, and visitors can
watch the progress of Glentress ospreys from springtime
egg-laying through to rearing and fledging the young.
The Tweed Valley Osprey Project aims to protect
nesting ospreys and encourage them to settle and breed in
suitable locations in the area, helping to improve people’s
knowledge and appreciation of these spectacular birds.
For those with a thirst for adventure of the tree-top
kind, Go Ape provides Tarzan swings, rope ladders and
even a skateboard zip-wire. For visitors without a
skateboard, the 48m (160ft) high, 300m (984ft) long
zip-wire will still provide an exhilarating experience. ��
Roxburghe Shooting School
Take aim…
EVER thrown a tomahawk, shot an arrow or fired a
gun? No? Well, there’s a chance to do all three at
the Roxburghe Shooting School, situated in the
grounds of the Roxburghe Hotel, a few miles south
of Kelso, just off the A698.
There are packages catering from the novice to the
experienced shooter. The management team of Stuart
Ferguson and Tracy Meston will ensure that while
you might not hit the bull’s eye every time, you’ll get
the best of tuition. More importantly, you’ll have
lots of fun trying!
An area with
loads to offer
FOCUS ON… The Borders
Top Tastes
Of The
A selection of the great flavours
on offer from small producers
COTLAND’S food and drink is lauded across the
world, from China to the Czech Republic and from
Montreal to the Maldives. Many regions of the
country vie to be the best, and the food and drink in the
Borders can compete with any place. Here’s an example
of what is on offer.
Born In The Borders
Born In The Borders is a business venture that in itself
encompasses all that is good about food and drink in this
part of Scotland.
Based on the banks of the River Teviot, it brings
together the best of everything that is grown, made, spun,
produced, cooked and created in the area. With two
shops, a stunning café and restaurant, riverside walks,
picnic spots and brewery tours, there’s no better way to
discover the incredible wealth of products and goods that
the Borders have to offer. The business started off as a
brewery in 2011 with the rest of the facilities, in the form
of a visitor centre, completed by 2014. As well as at their
headquarters, Born In The Borders produce can also be
found at Galashiels Transport interchange and Tweedbank
Ooft Hot Sauce
A taste from Trinidad comes to you from a
shop in Earlston, a saucy little enterprise
that reaches places other sauces can’t.
The success of Tony and Gabrielle
Johnson’s Ooft Sauces, based on her father’s
recipe, can be judged by one sauce
aficionado who decided theirs was the best
he’d tasted and came to their shop all the
way from Iceland just to buy a
barrowload! Ooft sauces take a year to
age, but according to Tony this develops
the consistency and flavour.
“Most other hot sauce makers just
blend then bottle,” he says. It’s a
tri-country affair, with aptly-named
Scotch Bonnet peppers from the
Dominican Republic imported through
London’s Covent Garden. From then on,
all the process is done by hand. Rave
reviews from all over the world have
made this a truly global product. It could
be just the way to spice up your life.
Rutherford’s Micropub
To merit the title “micropub” you have to meet several
criteria. No piped music, no TV, no hot food, conversion
from a closed shop, no lager, carefully-kept real ale and
no gaming machines are just some.
It’s also got to be small to encourage conviviality. If you
visit Rutherford’s Micropub in Kelso, you’ll find all these
boxes are ticked, after Simon and Debbie Rutherford took
over an empty knitwear shop. The pub, the only one of its
kind in Scotland, encourages conversation and even limits
its trading hours to suit its clientèle. Rutherfords is now a
well-established Kelso howff, but Simon knows the reason
for its success. “It’s the people who make the place,” he says.
“We couldn’t have done it without them.” Simon is
keen on innovation, and features guest drinks that you’d
be hard pushed to find anywhere else. But don’t take my
word for that. Find out yourself!
Going Native Heritage Meat
From field to plate is an accurate description of Mary
Howlett’s meat business. Settling in the Borders after an
itinerant life as shepherd and sheep shearer in New
Zealand and the Falkland Islands, the past 20 years have
seen her promote hill farming and slow-grown, naturallyreared meat.
“I like the special relationship between customer and
producer,” she says. “Every bit of meat is selected by me
with the knowledge of its origin, feeding and environment.
In buying direct from the farmers I have a pretty good
idea of what the meat will be like.” From her butcher’s
shop in Hawick, haggis and black pudding is made from
traditional recipes, with her produce reaching as far as
Hong Kong and Dubai. Her meat can be sourced from
her shop or on Sunday at Edinburgh’s
Stockbridge market.
Katy Cloud Marshmallows
The humble marshmallow originated in ancient Egypt
when it was a food for the gods or royalty. Now it is
reserved for toasting, stirring in hot melted chocolate (my
favourite!) or simply eaten au naturelle. But the world of
marshmallow is a wide and varied one, as Inge Armstrong
of Katy Cloud Marshmallows can testify. The company,
based in Roxburgh, was set up in 2015 and provides
handmade artisan marshmallows, with flavours ranging
from gin and tonic to salted caramel and strawberries and
champagne. Some early experimentation by Inge has led
to gourmet produce available online or at farm shops and
delis throughout the Borders.
FOCUS ON… The Borders
T-4-2, High Street, Galashiels, 01896 664741. Fresh
home baking, served with a smile.
Bardoulet’s Restaurant, Horseshoe Inn, Peebles, 01721
730225. Intimate restaurant showcasing the best of
Borders produce. Accommodation available.
Hunters Stables, St Boswells, 01835 822710. Wine bar
serving a fusion of Scottish and Italian food, from burgers
to seasonal specials.
Night Safe Bistro, High Street, Hawick, 01450 377045.
Former bank, hence the name, run by husband and wife
team of David and Karen Wilson.
The Caddy Mann Restaurant, Mounthooly, Jedburgh,
01835 850787. Open 10am-4pm for coffees, snacks and
lunch. Dinner served on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Fine Borders cuisine
Abbotsford House
Cross Keys Hotel, The Square, Kelso, 01573
223303. Ideally-situated town centre hotel,
dating back to 1769.
Tontine Hotel, High Street, Peebles, 01721
788161. After a day spent biking in Glentress,
a comfortable stay is just what you need.
The Craw Inn, Reston, Berwickshire, 01890
761253. Full of country character, great food
and real ales.
Abbotsford House, 01896 752043. Iconic building and home of
Sir Walter Scott, in the care of the Abbotsford Trust. It’s a must-see.
The Four Abbeys: Melrose, Jedburgh, Dryburgh and Kelso.
It takes a couple of days to tour around these marvellous examples
of pre-Reformation Scottish architecture.
Floors Castle, Kelso, 01573 223333. Home to the dukes of
Roxburgh since 1721 and the largest inhabited castle in Scotland.
Roxburghe Hotel & Golf Course, Heiton,
Kelso, 01573 450331. First class hotel with 22
bedrooms, a championship golf course and
the full range of sporting pursuits on the
Roxburghe Estate.
Roxburghe Hotel
Robert Smail’s Printing Works, Innerleithen, 01896 830206.
A look back to the days of hot-metal printing in an office scarcely
changed since 1866.
Eildon Hills, nr Melrose. Three peaks with rewarding views, with
the remains of Scotland’s largest hillfort on the northern hilltop.
l For an online Follow-up Focus, go to
Glenbank House Hotel, Castlegate,
Jedburgh, 01835 862258. Family-run hotel
150 yards from Jedburgh Jail and five minutes
from the town centre.
The Right Time For
A Highland Hoolie
Mallaig’s the perfect place for a packed weekend of fact,
fiction, a dram or two and a good old-fashioned knees-up!
– the little girl from the fictitious island of
HERE’s more that just books and book
Struay… Katie Morag.
people at this month’s A Write Highland
“Polly Pullar, festival director and
Hoolie book festival. Live music in the bar
chairwoman, was kind enough to give me the
of the West Highland Hotel in the evening will
chance to show the other side of me, the
inject a sense of conviviality and a chance to
non-Katie side,” says Mairi. “I’ve been lucky with
unwind. What's more, The Scots Magazine will
Katie but it’s sometimes nice to have a break.
be in attendance as media partner.
“I had been illustrating for other writers when
Writer and illustrator Mairi Hedderwick will
a publisher asked me why I didn’t come up
open the festival, which runs from November
Author Mairi
with my own character. However it didn’t help
10-12, with a talk on her travels around Scotland.
when that publisher went bust!
She has been following in the footsteps of a
“I then had to wait four years until 1984 before Katie
number of Victorian artists and painting the same scenes
actually made it into print. The brief for me was to write a
they painted all those years ago.
picture story book for three to eight-year-olds, so I just
Then she will turn to talking about someone who has
recalled memories of my children’s upbringing on Coll
been her constant companion for more than 35 years
HIS is the second year of A Write
Highland Hoolie, Mallaig’s very-own
book festival. The inaugural event was the
idea of Scots Magazine regular Polly Pullar
and Sine Davis, owner of the village’s West
Highland Hotel. They hope that the festival
will one day become one of the most
popular literary events in Scotland. Taking
place in one of the most beautiful corners of
the country is an added bonus.
and the things they got involved in. I never expected such
longevity, but the books are still used in schools today and
seem to get a great response from the children.”
Many of those attending the festival in Mallaig will
remember Katie, either from reading her stories to their
children or having listened to them themselves.
“We’re on the third generation now,” adds Mairi. “I’ve
been to book festivals and spoken to grannies, mums and
daughters all of whom were, or who are, Katie Morag
readers. Sons and grandsons, too.”
It’s fair to say that although Katie was a mainstay of
Mairi’s early career, she wants to diversify.
“I want to concentrate more on illustrated personal
journeys for adults. The one I’m working on now is about
Orkney, but it will be this winter when I really get into the
bulk of it. Then, hopefully, I’ll find a publisher.”
It was on one of her travels around Scotland that she
heard that she’d won the inaugural Scottish Book Trust’s
Outstanding Achievement Award for her contribution to
Scottish literature over the years. Eventually, that is.
“I was on Orkney researching for the book when the
news came through. I had lost my mobile phone but
Mark Lambert of the Scottish Book Trust eventually got
hold of me after weeks of trying. It was a big surprise!”
Mairi is looking forward to the Hoolie in more ways
than one. “I love the west coast and I love going to the
smaller book festivals, which are becoming more popular
with authors. In the smaller festivals, there’s more of a
chance for authors to get to know each other.”
Mallaig makes an idyllic setting
Who’s Who
At The Hoolie?
Other events that make this Mallaig fest a must
With The Scots Magazine as
media partners for this year’s
festival, we’re excited to
announce our Editor Robert
Wight will host a Feature
Writing Taster Workshop,
providing an insight into what
makes a fantastic feature –
the general structure, how to
write for different audiences
and how to pitch your idea
to an editor.
There will be the opportunity
to develop ideas you’d like to
work on and gain invaluable
feedback from the Scottish
Consumer Magazine Editor
of the Year.
No literary festival
would be the same
without poetry, but
Kenneth Steven
can combine verse
with prose. In his
talk Letting In The
Light, he will read
from some of his
poetry collections
but will also talk
about his life as a
novelist, in
particular his latest book on the Sami people.
Sunday November 12, 10-11am.
Saturday November 11,
2.30-4.15pm. Limited
to eight places.
The magazine’s connection
with the festival continues
with columnist Cameron
McNeish. In Words In The
Landscape, he will talk about
40 years of making a living
from climbing hills and
mountains. “Words are what
I trade in,” he says, “and
these words that describe the
landscape and in particular
the Scottish landscape.
“I’ve written about those 40
years in an autobiography
that is to be published next
spring. It’s called There’s
Always The Hills.”
Saturday November 11,
The Hoolie is in no way an adult-only
festival, as Meet Bookbug will
demonstrate. These consist of two
sessions of stories, song and rhymes for
pre-school children.
Saturday November, 1.15-2.15pm &
Sunday November 12, 1.30-2.30pm.
Every festival needs a chance for folk to unwind. On
Friday and Saturday evenings there’s chance for toetapping and music-making with husband and wife duo
Gary Lister and Elsa Jean McTaggart. Elsa’s versatility on
guitar, fiddle, penny whistle and button-box is well
known and Gary complements this on keyboards,
accordion and vocals. Skye musician Donald Livingstone
joins the couple on the Friday night. But there’s also an
invitation for festival-goers to join in the fun. So, bring
your own instrument and make it a right musical hoolie!
Friday November 11 & Saturday November 12,
from 8.30pm.
Festival director and chairwoman Polly
Pullar isn’t content to sit back and let
things happen and she takes an active
part in the proceedings herself. A nature
writer and photographer, she will join
nature photographer Neil McIntyre in a
talk entitled The Red Squirrel – A Future
In The Forest. This event is sure to give a
valuable insight into one of Scotland’s
“big six”, the animal’s universal appeal
and the importance it brings to the
country’s ecology.
Saturday November 11, 4.30-5.30pm.
The weekend comes to a close with Robert
announcing winners of the children’s creative writing
and art competitions, with tea and cakes supplied by
Mallaig High School pupils.
A delicious way to end a delicious weekend
celebrating the written word. All events take place
in the West Highland Hotel. For more information,
go to
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Going On A
Beaver Hunt!
Taking to the Tay offers a chance to see Scotland’s
most recently reintroduced species up close…
NTIL relatively recently, beavers were a species of animal that lived in
Scotland long, long ago – but not any more. Since the 2009 trial
introduction of a small group of European beavers at Knapdale Forest in
Argyll, and their unofficial reintroduction in Perthshire, beavers have been secretly
making new homes on Scotland’s waterways – and I’m about to g o looking for the
elusive ones who live on the River Tay.
“I see beavers 70% of the time when I’m kayaking in the east of Scotland,” says
Outdoor Explore’s Piotr Guden, who is originally from Poland and moved to
Scotland in 2014 after working all over the world as an outdoor instructor.
“I’ve been watching the European beavers who live in the Perth area for over a
year now and although they’re still far from being common, if you know where and
when to look, and you’re patient, there’s a good chance you’ll spot one.”
Piotr’s beaver-spotting expertise has tempted me to take part in a Canoe Beaver
Safari, which I had fully expected to involve paddling along a secluded loch hig h in
the Perthshire hills in the early hours of the morning. However, Piotr has asked me
to meet him at 6pm at a pontoon on the banks of the Tay, only a few minutes’
drive from Perth. ��
Passing under the
Friarton Bridge
It's estimated there are
now around 200 beavers
living on the Tay
Trunks resembling a
sharpened pencil –
the work of beavers
“Kayaking is one of the best ways to spot a beaver as
you barely disturb the water and make very little noise,”
explains Piotr. I climb into a double kayak with Danièle
Muir of Perthshire Wildlife, who regularly teams up with
Piotr to share her expert knowledge about the animals,
birds, in sects an d fish that can be seen on a Beaver Safari.
“It’s estimated there are 200 in the River Tay
catchment area alone,” says Danièle, who also leads
walking tours to watch the amazing wildlife of the River
Ericht, near Blairgowrie, two or three times a week,
where she has seen beavers on every tour this year.
We’re joined on our safari by Liz Boys and Dave
Poole from Cumbria, who are hoping to see a beaver on
the last day of their Scottish holiday.
“That would be the icing on the cake,” says Liz, as we
paddle our kayaks towards Perth – and Beaver Land!
Despite going against the current, we’re soon under
the Friarton Bridge, where, to my surprise, the rumbling
of the lorries overhead fails to disturb the tranquillity of
the river. There are birds everywhere and Danièle points
out common sandpipers, osytercatchers and a grey heron.
Then, as the Tay splits in two to go around Moncrieffe
Island, Danièle draws our attention to signs of beaver
“Stumps of small trees are a giveaway,” says Daniele,
as we float up to a large tree overhanging the river with no
bark on its trunk and branches which look like a
sharpened pencil point – two other signs they are around.
Daniele also points to a deep, muddy channel leading
into the water and explains this route has been gouged
into the riverbank by the local beavers dragging branches
and small trees into the water, either for food or to add to
the structure of their lodge.
We’re now fast approaching a beavers’ lodge so Piotr
motions to us to move into the centre of the river and to
keep as quiet as possible, demonstrating a special
paddling motion that allows us to kayak silently through
the water.
An adult beaver is the size
of a chubby spaniel
Beavers possess a set of transparent eyelids which
enables them to see underwater.
Beaver lodges typically contain two dens, one for
drying off after entering the lodge under water,
and a dryer one where the family live and socialise.
Their large teeth never stop growing. Beavers
constantly gnaw on wood to keep their teeth from
growing too long.
The lodge is
carefully disguised
The lodge looks like a haphazard collection of
branches, small trees and vegetation pushed together by
the current – but that’s all part of the beavers’ clever ploy
to hide their home from prying eyes. Having been wiped
out 500 years earlier for their fur, their meat and the
perfume ingredient castoreum, they’re clearly not taking
any chances.
“Look out for ripples in the water,” murmurs Piotr,
who explains that this is often the first sign of a beaver
taking a dip.
A few minutes later, Liz points her paddle at a ripple
gently cascading towards the shore – it’s created by a
beaver dashing through the water towards the other side
of the Tay. My first sighting!
Our collective gasp alerts the beaver to our presence
and he dives under the water – only to reappear with
another beaver next to him. Together, they swim in the
direction of the lodge until, with a tiny splash, they
disappear underwater.
We assume that’s our display over for the evening but
they’ve obviously decided we’re not a threat as we soon
spot them on a beach near the lodge, playing.
“Judging by their small size, these are possibly year-old
kits,” says Danièle, who adds that an adult beaver is the
size of a chubby spaniel. “Kits live with their parents until
they’re around two years old, when they leave to find a
mate and set up their own lodge.
“Beavers live in close-knit family units and I’m often
struck by the affection and playfulness they display with
each other.”
With dusk falling, it’s time to return to the pontoon.
However, the lodge’s mature adult beavers are
determined to have their turn in the spotlight and, as we
glide by their bijou waterside dwelling, the happy couple
dive in and out of the water, putting on quite a show.
Glancing up from the river, I catch sight of car
headlights through the trees, providing a reminder that
one of the main roads to Perth is only a few hundred
yards away. “Years of the riverbank being overlooked by
the population of Perth, coupled with the dramatic
reduction of ships using Perth Harbour, has resulted in this
stretch of the River Tay gradually returning to nature,”
explains Piotr.
“These beavers are living very close to a large number
of people, with hardly anyone realising they’re there.”
With that, a beaver speeds across the river to his lodge,
bidding us farewell with a flick of his large tail as he
disappears under the water.
“Welcome home, Mr Beaver,” I whisper across the
water. “It’s great to have you back.”
For more information about Outdoor Explore’s
Canoe Beaver Safaris other outdoor activities, visit
Sound Of Scotland
On The
It’s a great time to catch bands
on tour, says Lisa-Marie Ferla
OR many of us, a Scottish autumn means cosy
jumpers, bonfires, hot toddies and finding excuses to
stay in out of the rain. Not so for our hardy musicians,
whose calendars seem even more full this month.
November’s highlights include tours from Glasgow
pop-rockers Catholic Action and eclectic eccentric The
Pictish Trail; an adopted Scotsman’s return from Korea
and the tail end of the Sonica Festival, a world-renowned
celebration of sonic and visual art with its roots in
Glasgow. Even 80s pop legends Hue and Cry will be back
on the road, promoting latest album Pocketful of Stones
with shows in Dundee, Aberdeen, Greenock, Edinburgh
and Hamilton, along with an Average White Band support
slot in Glasgow on November 23.
Led by Chris McCrory, a Glasgow producer already
renowned for his work with the likes of Siobhan Wilson
and The Pooches, four-piece Catholic Action released
their debut album In Memory Of – co-produced by
McCrory, of course – on October 20. This month, they
take to the road with Nottingham trio Kagoule on a
UK-wide tour, which includes dates in Edinburgh (Sneaky
Pete’s, 6th) and Glasgow (Broadcast, 7th).
Johnny Lynch of The Pictish Trail is no stranger to this
column, and this month sees the start of a UK-wide jaunt
dubbed the Winter Rewind Acid Reflux Tour – both
because it promises “stripped back, twisted and blissed
out regurgitations of ol’ Pictish Trail favourites” and for the
slightly distressing accompanying visuals.
Lynch will be joined by multi-instrumentalists Suse
Bear – of Tuff Love fame – and John B McKenna
(Monoganon, also acting as tour support) for the string of
dates, which kick off at Glasgow’s Glad Cafe on
November 17.
Tae Sup wi’ a Fifer, singer-songwriter James Yorkston’s
052_SMG_191017.indd 52
Hue and Cry
David Thomas
blissed out
musical showcase at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy,
has also featured in this column before – but it too is back
for an autumnal run of shows. November’s show, taking
place on the 25th, features Philip Selway – the Radiohead
drummer, in his critically acclaimed solo guise – along
with Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Kathryn Williams and
David Thomas Broughton.
Broughton is the Yorkshire-born avant-garde folk
musician whose work with the Song, By Toad record label
has granted him the title of honorary Edinburgh man,
despite the fact that he worked with collaborators on his
last album, 2016’s Crippling Lack, over email from
Pyongyang and Seoul. He will follow up the Kirkcaldy
show with performances in Edinburgh (26th) and Glasgow
(27th), each of which will showcase different
collaborations with the likes of eagleowl, R M Hubbert
and Meursault.
Although predominantly a showcase for visual art, the
biennial Sonica Festival, which gets underway in Glasgow
on October 26, boasts a number of intriguing musical
installations too.
The programme includes the Scottish premiere of Dear
Esther (November 3), which combines first-person gaming
techniques and virtual reality technology with a responsive
04/10/2017 09:50:09
Gig Guide
Ride, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh,
November 14. Alternative rock
band formed in 1988 in Oxford,
consisting of Andy Bell, Mark
Gardener, Laurence Colbert
and Steve Queralt.
Hazel O’Connor, Oran Mor,
Glasgow, November 17.
Pop icon who mixes new wave
and new-age with alternative
and pop.
Shed Seven, Liquid Rooms,
Edinburgh, November 22.
Alternative/indie rock band
formed in York in 1990.
Blaenavon, St Luke’s, Glasgow,
November 27. Indie rock band
from England. This is the only
Scottish gig in their 2017 tour.
Pictish Trail
Good Charlotte, Barrowland
Ballroom, Glasgow,
November 30. Pop punk mixed
with a dash of metal from twins
Joel and Benji Madden.
Spinning Coin
Emily Barker, Tolbooth, Stirling,
November 30. Australian singer/
songwriter, whose music has
featured in the themes to BBC
dramas like Wallander and The
Shadow Line.
Tide Lines, Ironworks,
Inverness, December 1. Young
Highland band whose debut
album was released in June.
live soundtrack composed by BAFTA winner Jessica Curry;
and a unique rendition of experimental electronic
musician Paul Jebanasam’s 2016 album Continuum with
live visuals by Dutch artist Tarik Barri.
Both events take place at festival hub Tramway, but
there will be events throughout the city until the
programme concludes on November 5 – from opera in a
St Enoch Centre shop window to a megaphone chorus in
Kelvingrove Park.
Album of the month comes from Glasgow’s Spinning
Coin, whose debut, Permo, comes out on November 10
via Geographic Music, the Domino Records imprint of
indie legends The Pastels. The album, which was
recorded with Edwyn Collins at his AED Studios and at
Green Door Studio, gets a launch show at Mono vegan
cafe bar on November 17.
Tide Lines
052_SMG_191017.indd 53
04/10/2017 09:49:54
Get out there and try something new...
Go Munro bagging by train, including the stunning Arrochar Alps... turn to page 56
◆ Cameron McNeish p60 ◆ Take A Hike p66 ◆ On Your Bike p68 ◆ Gear Review p71
Outdoor writer Fiona Russell takes
to the rails on the way to the hills
HEY’RE famously known as the only Munros that
require a journey by train to reach.
Although that's not quite true, rail is certainly the
easiest way to reach Sgor Gaibhre, Carn Dearg and Beinn
na Lap, three of Scotland's 282 Munros, hills of – 3000ft
(914m) – and more.
They lie at the heart of the wild Highlands area of
Corrour Estate, where the UK’s highest mainline train
station delivers you right to the start point of three
mountain routes. Without railway access, these
mountains would require a walk from the nearest public
road of some four hours – and back again.
In the summer, Scots Magazine editor Robert finished
his first Munro round on Beinn na Lap. He said, “I had
saved this Munro for last because although it is remote it’s
easily accessible by rail. Travelling by train made the day
seem much more of an adventure – especially when it
incorporates the magnificent West Highland Line.”
Here, outdoor writer Fiona Russell reveals her pick of
Munros – and other hills – you can reach by rail.
Let The Train Take The Strain
While most Munro-baggers choose to drive to reach
Scotland’s Munros, travelling by train is less tiring,
especially on the return, and better for the environment.
From Scotland’s central belt, there are two main train
lines to the Highlands. As well as the West Highland Line,
there is the Highland Main Line, which runs north via
Perth to Inverness. See National Rail Enquiries.
Here are six train-to-Munro hikes to consider…
Ben Alder
One of the most remote Munros, Ben Alder requires an
initial walk or bike ride on an off-road track of some
14.5km (9 miles) from Dalwhinnie to Culra Bothy.
Conveniently, Dalwhinnie has a station on the
Perth-Inverness line and takes around an hour to reach.
You can reserve a free place for your bike on the train.
Ben Alder
The earliest train reaches Dalwhinnie at 6.12am and
the last return train is at 9.35pm. It will depend on your
fitness and your aspirations as to whether you attempt
Ben Alder in one day, or wild camp overnight and return
the following day. Culra Bothy is now permanently closed.
In fact, many people choose to stay for a couple of
nights to hike more of the Munros that are located in
the Ben Alder forest area.
Munro-baggers are never disappointed by the
impressive central Highlands landscape of mountain
peaks and ridges, pretty high-level lochans and fastflowing streams.
The Corrour Munros
and Beinn na Lap
The Corrour Munros
Viewers of the gritty Trainspotting films will have
glimpsed the remote location of Corrour Station, yet
to experience the wonderfully wild landscape you
need to visit.
There are three or four trains each day from
Glasgow Queen Street to Corrour, fewer on a
Sunday and just one on Sundays in winter. The
earliest train from Glasgow arrives at 8.59am, while
the last return departs at 6.25pm. The London to Fort
William Caledonian Sleeper train is an option, too,
with an arrival at the request-only stop at 8.59am.
The Munros of Beinn na Lap, Sgorr Gaibhre and
Carn Dearg are relatively straightforward in good
weather. Many aim to walk all three in one outing, or
else Beinn na Lap is summited separately.
Walkers will enjoy looking down over picturesque
Loch Ossian and further afield to the many mountain
peaks of the wider West Highlands area.
Ben Cruachan
The tiny Falls of Cruachan train station, on the West
Highland Line, between Glasgow and Oban, is a
request-only stop that gives easy access to the fabulous
craggy ridge walk of the Cruachan Horseshoe.
The first train from Glasgow arrives at 10.52am and
the last return train is 18.42pm. For fit walkers the eight
hours in between should be enough to complete the
circular walk that takes in two Munros, Ben Cruachan
and Stob Daimh. Note: this train service runs between
March and October only.
Beinn Dorain
From the station, walkers cross the A85 to spot a
wooden sign pointing the way to Ben Cruachan. The
wide track leads to a huge feat of industrial
engineering, the Cruachan Dam at the head of
Cruachan Reservoir, before climbing the steep slopes
of magnificent Ben Cruachan.
Stob Daimh is located to the north-east of the ridge
before the descent back to the station. In good
weather, the views over Loch Awe and towards
multiple Highlands peaks are breathtaking.
Beinn Dorain
The striking cone-shaped mountain Beinn
Dorain is easily spotted from the main
road of the A82, heading north from
The grassy pyramid is often walked
with the neighbouring Munro, Beinn an
Dothaidh, which reveals fine views over
Rannoch Moor and on to Glencoe’s
many peaks.
Bridge of Orchy, the starting point for
the two-Munro hike, boasts a train station
on the Glasgow-Fort William line.
The difference between the arrival of
the first train from Glasgow and the
departure of the final train from Bridge
of Orchy is 11 hours, which gives ample
time for most walkers to complete the
14km (8¾-mile) hike.
Ben Cruachan and Stob Daimh
Arrochar Alps
Arrochar Alps
The Arrochar Alps to the west of Loch Lomond
include the two rugged, rocky Munros of
Beinn Ime and Beinn Narnain, as well as Ben
Arthur, a Corbett nicknamed The Cobbler.
Regular trains travel between Glasgow
and Arrochar & Tarbet station and take
around 75 minutes. It’s a 2.4km (1½-mile)
walk to the start point, just outside Arrochar
village, for the off-road path that heads
upwards to all three peaks.
Whether you choose to walk the three
mountains or pick just one or two, you are
promised a rewarding outing in an easily
accessible but stunningly remote-feeling glen.
Fionn Bheinn
So often overlooked as walkers head for the more
majestic mountains of Torridon, Fionn Bheinn can
offer an easy ascent on a summer’s day – and rewards
with some magnificent views.
The remote Munro is accessed from Achnasheen, a
small station on the Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh line. The
walking route is found on the other side of the A832.
Look for the red phone box.
The first train from Inverness leaves at 8.55am and
arrives at Achnasheen for 10.18am, while the last return
The view from
Fionn Bheinn
train is 6.25pm, which gives plenty of time for the
out-and-back 12km (7½-mile) route.
It’s a steady climb that can be a bit boggy in wet
weather so you might be wise to reserve this Munro
for the summer.
The vistas widen as you climb and include the
easily identified profile of the Munro of Slioch, in
Torridon, to the north-west of Fionn Bheinn, while a
group of mountains known as the Fannichs provide an
eye-catching vista to the north and east.
From the summit you might be fortunate to see the
dinosaur-back ridge of the Cuillin mountain range on
the Isle of Skye.
Ben Vorlich (Loch Lomond) can be reached
from Ardlui station. Trains run from and to
Glasgow until after 10pm.
Beinn Liath Mhor is accessible from
Achnashellach, a request-stop station on the
Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh line.
Ben Nevis is the UK’s tallest mountain and
can be reached by train, alighting at the
Highlands outdoors “capital” of Fort William.
Ben Wyvis can be accessed from Garve on
the Inverness-Kyle of Lochalsh train line.
Monadh Liath can be scaled starting from
Newtonmore on the Perth-Inverness line.
Cameron McNeish, Scotland’s top outdoor writer,
The Longest,
The Loveliest
& The Loneliest
Mysterious Glen Lyon had huge
significance for the pagan Celts
T was Sir Walter Scott who first described Glen Lyon in the
above terms and Tom Weir was fond of using the same
adjectives to describe this 40km (25-mile-long) glen of
Highland Perthshire. He often told me it was his favourite glen.
Glen Lyon is indeed a magnificent place, from its heavily
wooded lower glen where the River Lyon crashes through its
deep, shadowed gorge, all the way to the bare upper slopes – a
place of desolation and remote mountain grandeur despite the
hydro works that have dammed the loch, created a stony tideline
around the shores, and laced the upper glen with power lines.
Notwithstanding the hand of man, Glen Lyon is famed for
something else. It is Scotland’s most mysterious glen, a place of
myth and legend and very possibly, home to the Creator
Goddess of the ancient Celtic world.
Years ago I met an old friend of mine here. Lawrence Main
has a penchant for New Age thinking, describes himself as a
druid and has a longstanding fascination with the mysteries and
legends of our wild places. He had come to Glen Lyon to visit
Fortingall, which he believed might have been the birthplace of
Pontius Pilate, the Roman judge of Christ.
He was also searching for the Praying Hands of Mary, a large
split rock that stands in Gleinn Dà-Eigg, close to Bridge of Balgie.
Lawrence believed that Glen Lyon was the home of the Creator
Goddess, and was itself a sacred place.
Although megalithic remains are found just outside the Glen,
in Fortingall and near Loch Tay, the Glen itself is curiously
devoid of megalithic monuments – as the home of the Creator
Goddess, the glen itself was sacred by its own nature and such
special sites were normally left untouched by the ancient Celts.
Lawrence’s revelations about the Celtic importance of Glen
Lyon had aroused my own interest. Just as North American
outdoors folk have learned much from the native North ��
explores the most exciting places. This month, Glen Lyon
Fionn's Rock or The Praying
Hands of Mary – supernatural,
natural or man-made?
Cameron’s Country
American tribes, so I believe we can learn from our Celtic
ancestors, especially about living in harmony with the land.
Lawrence’s interest reminded me of a story I was told
some 40 years ago by an old pal of mine, Harry McShane,
a former warden of Crianlarich Youth Hostel and an
erstwhile hillwalking buddy.
Harry told me about stone figures that were taken to a
lonely spot near the head of Glen Lyon every spring, and
removed every autumn. Further research suggested this
could be the story behind the pagan shrine dedicated to
The Cailleach, in the tradition of the Celtic mothergoddesses, who once blessed the cattle and the pasturage
and ensured good weather.
The Cailleach, or divine goddess, is a potent force in
Celtic mythology, commonly associated with wild nature
and landscape. She was the Celtic Creator Goddess,
encountered throughout Scotland. She was represented
in a variety of aspects but believers would see her essential
nature in the harmony and balance of the natural order,
the ebb and flow of growth and decay of life itself.
Nearby, in Rannoch, legend names her as the
Cailleach Bheur, the blue hag who according to legend
rides the wings of the storms to deal out icy death to
unfortunate travellers. According to A. D. Cunningham’s
excellent book Tales of Rannoch, she was once a familiar
sight on Schiehallion: “Her face was blue with cold, her
hair white with frost and the plaid that wrapped her bony
shoulders was grey as the winter fields.”
But there have been other ancient forces at work in
Glen Lyon. Years ago, just before I climbed the Corbett of
Cam Chreag, high above Glen Lyon, I had visited the little
church at Innerwick. There’s a car park with interpretative
signs beside the start of the right-of-way that runs over the
hills to Rannoch and the little church is well worth a visit,
even if just to see the ancient bell of St Adamnan.
St Adamnan, also called Eonan, was Irish-born and is
famed for his biography of St Columba, under whom he
studied and worked at Iona. Adamnan lived in the 7th
It may be Britain’s
oldest uninterrupted
pre-Christian ritual
century and died around 704 AD. The bell apparently lay
in the churchyard of St Brandon’s Chapel in Glen Lyon for
centuries before being rescued.
It’s believed St Adamnan travelled here from Iona,
setting up Christian cells on ancient pagan sites of worship,
so it’s perhaps not surprising that pagan Glen Lyon was a
target. The name Lyon is thought by many to be a
derivation of Lugdunum, after Lugh, the Celtic sun god.
Other historians believe Glen Lyon was a stronghold of
the Picts and suggest that Glen Lyon, rather than Scone,
might have been the centre of their kingdom. If this is true
it could explain why Glen Lyon was thus named: the sun
god was normally associated with the king.
Another of St Adamnan’s churches lies on the shores of
Loch Insh, by Kincraig in Badenoch, and also has a bell that
apparently belonged to the well-travelled saint. At Loch
Insh, according to an ancient Irish legend, St Adamnan
used to ring the bell to summon the Swan Children of Lir
– a brother and sister who were half child, half swan – to
worship. Today, Loch Insh and its adjoining meadows form
Scotland’s principal wintering place for whooper swans.
St Adamnan is credited with banishing the Black
Plague, which apparently raged through Glen Lyon in
AD664. It’s said that the saint prayed and, summoning
God’s help, cast the plague’s evil spirits into a hole in a
rock. The rock itself is said to lie by the roadside at
Camustrachan and is known as Craig Fhionnaidh. I’ve
searched for it without success, but I did find the Bronze
Age standing stone with the carving of a cross that is said
to mark the spot.
The wooded lower glen
The stones represent the
Cailleach, the Bodach
and their daughter
The gorge of the
River Lyon
Further up the glen, near Bridge of Balgie, is Milton
Eonan, said to be the site of Adamnan’s original cell.
Encouraged by finding the standing stone, I set off in
search of the Praying Hands of Mary. Some say the
historic name of the rock formation is Fionn’s Rock, the
split in the rock created by Fingal’s arrow.
Conical-shaped hills were important to pre-Christian
religions and that importance possibly dates beyond
Druidism and the ancient Celts. Glastonbury Tor is a
good example and the 642m (2106ft) Creag nan Eildeag
in Glen Lyon could be another.
On the lower slopes of this hill, in Gleann De-Eig, a
curious rock formation depicts two hands pointing
skywards as though in supplication, the fingertips not quite
touching. The split upright stone is balanced on a base
rock and leans against another, as though placed there by
man’s hand. I can’t find any archeological research that
suggests this is a natural phenomenon and so the
assumption is that the formation is man-made.
Having said that, I’m pretty open-minded about its
origins. Over the years I’ve ceased to be surprised at the
unlikely formations that nature often produces.
However, the position of the stone formation is
interesting. If you stand 20-30 metres downhill from the
stones and look back, they appear to be praying towards
the most conical aspect of Creag nan Eildeag, a symbol
perhaps of the “primordial” hill, the first hill created and
suggestive of the navel of the Earth.
Other interpretations suggest the primordial hill ��
As well as being the alleged birthplace of
Pontius Pilate, the village of Fortingall at the
glen’s east end has another claim to fame. In its
tiny churchyard stands the Fortingall Yew,
which is believed to be 5000 years old.
mimics the extended belly of a pregnant woman. In this
case it was believed by some ancient scholars that the
sun-god Lugh had impregnated the Cailleach, hence the
conical-shaped hill expressing her pregnancy.
The shrine to The Cailleach, in Gleann Cailliche near
the head of Glen Lyon, was relatively unknown until
recent times when a proposal for a run-of-river hydro
scheme threatened to create bulldozed tracks and
buildings close to its cherished pasture lands. There were
strong objections, largely from local people, and the
proposal was abandoned, but the location of the ancient
shrine was made known to a wider audience.
Ironically, perhaps a better awareness of its situation
and its importance will protect it in the future.
On a rare sunny day earlier this summer I drove to
Pubil, close to the dam that holds back the waters of Loch
Lyon, and cycled my mountain bike along the north shore
to Gleann Meurain, a northern offshoot of Glen Lyon.
Close by lay the entrance to Gleann Cailliche, a lovely
green, flat-bottomed glen that would have been ideal for
summer shielings – there was abundant water and the
pastures would have been lush. Several vegetated
mounds indicated former settlements and before long I
had climbed into the glen and glimpsed what I was seeking.
On the Ordnance Survey map it’s called Tigh nan
Bodach, the house of the old man, but others refer to it as
Tigh nan Cailleach. It’s a drystone structure, about waist
Robert Campbell of Glenlyon led the Government
troops responsible for the 1691 Massacre of Glencoe.
At 55km (34 miles), it is the longest enclosed
glen in Scotland. It is also called “the bent glen”.
The Glenlyon Horseshoe are four Munros on the
glen’s north side, all usually completed in one day.
The church in Glen Lyon
high, with a roof of turf . From a distance it appeared tiny.
Several waterworn stones, shaped like fat, rounded bodies
with heads, were lying outside on the grass.
The largest stone represents the Cailleach (old woman),
accompanied by the Bodach and their daughter, Nighean.
In what is believed to be the oldest uninterrupted
pre-Christian ritual in Britain, the water-worn figures from
the River Lyon are taken out of their house every May and
faced down the glen, and returned every November.
The ritual was performed, until his death, by a local
gamekeeper, and I believe others are continuing it.
Indeed, a few years ago Crieff-based drystane dyker
Norman Haddow, along with five local volunteers, spent a
weekend renovating the ancient house.
The ancient ritual that takes place here twice a year
marks the two great Celtic festivals of Beltane and
Samhain (Hallowe’en). These festivals represented the
annual removal of cattle to the high shielings in spring,
and back to the lower glen, and villages, in the autumn.
According to local lore The Cailleach, in the tradition of
Celtic mother-Goddesses, blessed the beasts and the
pastures and ensured good weather for the summer.
Forty years after hearing about this place for the first
time, I was thrilled to sit beside the stones and wonder at
all those who had been here before me. The “servants”
who had, throughout the generations, made their way to
this spot to take out or put back the figures; those who
had come in a form of pilgrimage to pay their respects to
the Creator Goddess, or folk like me, who were merely
inquisitive about all things Celtic.
I was also aware that the Celtic sun had long since set:
the ancient temples and their traditions have vanished;
the sacred groves and the holy forests have all gone and
the stories of those who performed mighty deeds and
miracles have become confused with folk tales and
mythology. All that remain are places like this, and the
standing stones, forever alert to the sound of Fingal’s war
hounds. Long may they remain.
St Adamnan’s
ancient bell
Take A Hike
A Question Of Balance
Nick Drainey finds nature among the industrial past at Falls of Clyde
Length: 11km (7 miles).
Height gained: 250m (820ft).
Time: 3½ to 4½ hours.
OS Landranger 71.
Parking: The main car park
for New Lanark World
Heritage Site is indicated by
brown signs from the centre
of Lanark. It’s advisable to
approach on Hyndford Road,
rather than The Beeches as
some sat navs suggest.
EW LANARK wouldn’t happen today. We now
appreciate the importance of nature and the need
to protect it from intrusion. To build a complex of
mills next to a beautiful stretch of water would be ruled
out under a whole raft of environmental legislation.
The stunning Falls of Clyde would have been protected
from all the building just downstream and the reforms of
Robert Owen, who ran the mills at the beginning of the
19th century, would have been lost from this area.
Owen recognised a number of things we now take for
granted, such as the need for education and the right of
workers to have leisure time. So you could argue that
without the industry of New Lanark, many wouldn’t have
the time to appreciate nature anyway.
As you go up river, the impact of modern industry is
felt with a hydro-electric power station. This production of
clean electricity, and the earlier work of Owen, are
examples of balance, probably the most important word
when contemplating the future of rural Scotland.
Both developments were allowed to flourish at the Falls
of Clyde but as you make your way up past the deluge of
Corra Linn and then the sprawling cascades of Bonnington
Linn you are surrounded by birdlife, including peregrines.
Today, when new industry comes, we should give it
time. Salmon farming, to take one example, started three
or four decades ago and received a bad press because of
alleged pollution it created and harm to native aquatic life.
Since then things have improved, and progress is still
being made. Yet there are those who say salmon farming
around the coast of Scotland should be banned outright.
A carte blanche approach should not be taken for all
new developments in the countryside, but it is probable
Nick’s Top Tip...
The falls of
Corra Linn
Sunglasses in winter can be
a great advantage when
snow has fallen. The low sun
can create a glare off the
white stuff which can be
extremely uncomfortable,
and potentially dangerous
to the eyes.
An idyllic setting that would not
be permitted by today's planners!
Grid references: Start/
Finish: NS881425
Point 2: NS884415
Point 3: NS883413
Point 4: NS884406
Point 5: NS882405
Point 6: NS881414
Point 7: NS883415
Point 8: NS873428
Point 9: NS874433
Point 10: NS868439
Point 11: NS875433
Point 12: NS874428
Point 13: NS877429
Next month’s walk will take in a great 16km (10-mile) walk up Glen Banvie, near Blair Atholl. Perfect for winter,
the return route takes in the Falls of Bruar. Don’t miss it in December’s Scots Magazine
some mistakes will be made if we are to be innovative.
So, balance is needed. We shouldn’t ban things outright in
the immediate aftermath of problems, we should work
out how to do it better. After all, we didn’t abandon the
idea of railway bridges over estuaries after the Tay Bridge
disaster, nor of North Sea oil extraction after spills.
At this time of year the woodland which lines the Falls
of Clyde is putting on its autumnal show of colour, making
it a great time to visit.
Once on the west side, there is little man-made
disturbance, except for the ruins of Corra Castle or fields
of cows. Lower down, new homes have been built, but
far enough from the river so as not to be an annoyance.
This is a walk which leaves thoughts primarily of nature
rather than industry, showing how there can be a
successful balance of the two.
l Something a bit more strenuous: Head down the
A73 and walk up Tinto, a distinctive hill with great views
up to the mountains of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs
and down to the southern Uplands.
l Very strenuous: Further south is Biggar and a great
round of hills including Culter Fell. A chance to escape to
the high-level solitude offered by the Southern Uplands.
On Your Bike
Woodland Wonders
Tentsmuir Forest offers something for cyclists of all
levels – with great views thrown in for good measure
Distance: 14km
(8.6 miles)
Ascent: 115m
Maps: OS
Explorer 371 and
Landranger 59
Parking: Tentsmuir
car park and
there’s a good few
spaces at Tayport
Lots of picnic
areas are available
N the north-eastern extremity of
Fife, Tentsmuir is a vast sprawl of
pine trees chock full of squirrels,
dog walkers, cyclists and equestrians.
A grid of forest tracks divides up the
area like American city blocks, but away
from the main drag around the outermost
edge lie a few bands of singletrack that
make the woods well worth the trip.
Also interesting are the remains of the
Second World War defences peppering
the woods along the coast.
It was thought that the gentle, sandy
beaches would make an ideal landing
point for invading German forces – which
explains the concrete anti-tank blocks,
pillboxes and observation towers scattered
among the trees – built by the Polish army
with the help of locals.
The sands of the beach are every bit as
huge as the defense structures. Abertay
sands stretch out from Tentsmuir point
into the North Sea – but they’re not for
exploring as many folk have been caught
out by the rapid return of the tides.
Seals can often be seen bathing on
islets of sand, though they’re happiest
with a little gap between them and the
human throng.
There’s very little elevation to worry
about in Tentsmuir, which makes it a great
place to take young cyclists or introduce
new people to the sport. Especially when
the Crêpe Shack is in residence at the
main car park!
You can cover a reasonable distance,
though – and it’s actually quite tiring for a
mountain biker like me just to be seated
and pedaling for more than half an hour at
a time. I’m usually up and down like a
yo-yo on a normal ride.
Tentsmuir isn’t quite the trail maze of
most forests, but it still requires a canny
eye to catch all the worthwhile paths
Squeezing through the
anti-motorbike gate
hidden within – and I doubt I know all of it. We came in
from the Leuchars end once, but found little except a thin
entry trail that was peppered with gappy rabbit holes.
Come in from the Tayport end, though, and things are
a bit more obvious. I’d say it’s the best way to get to know
what the forest has to offer. Park up near the entrance –
the North Links car park or along the road-end by the
BMX track.
Squeeze through the anti-motorbike gate with as much
dignity as possible, and buzz along the track. Spot an early
trail on the right that runs up to the fence line for a wee
diversion, before entering the forest proper and heading
straight across the track for a sandy trail that disappears
into the pines.
Follow this to its end, and carry straight on, then keep
left until you rejoin the main track. Turn right along this,
and ride on. The track runs through an area of newer,
shorter trees, and just after this finishes a left turn heads
towards the Tay. Two-thirds of the way down here, on the
right, a singletrack trail dips away.
A foot wide with broad curved corners, the track is just
sublime. This goes on for a good while, and just follow
your nose onwards – there are clues everywhere.
Reflectors, bits of plastic, painted arrows, all appear here
and there pinned or drawn on trees and will guide you.
You’ll cross a log pile over one downed tree and a plank
over another – the only two technical trail features in
these woods.
Find the Ice House and cycle up its right flank, finding
the singletrack behind. Stay left on the way out – almost to
the main car park – and cross the stream for the return leg
beside it, also very popular with dog walkers. Follow your
route home.
Tentsmuir is heaven for winter rides. It drains well, it’s
sheltered and the little guiding marks put around the place
by locals are even more obvious by torchlight. Even a thin
layer of snow does nothing do quash its appeal – in fact,
it’s even more charming with the squeaky crunch of fresh
white flakes under tyre.
Alex’s Top Tip...
If you’re there at the
weekend, push on to the
main forest car park for a
visit to the Crêpe Shack.
Hot drinks and fresh
crepes in the heart of the
pines. Yum!
A glimpse of the sea
is a good reward
Gear Guide
We put the latest outdoor clothing
and equipment to the test
1. Playbrave® Tour Cotton Hoodie, £59
Contact details:;;;
UCH as I dream of having different
outfits for different activities, the
harsh reality of my life is that whatever
outdoor gear I wear has to be adaptable
for many different uses. So a hoodie
specifically for playing tennis was destined
for a much more flexible time when it
came my way! So far, I’ve worn my
Playbrave Hoodie to Pilates, dog walking, taking a stroll
around the decks on a cruise ship, on a Scots Mag hike,
sitting at my computer and even, but only once, to play
tennis! And this hoodie works perfectly in all situations
– keeping me warm, looking sporty yet stylish, with a
slightly tailored fit, and washing perfectly!
2. Hilltrek Braemar Hybrid Smock, £250
O-NONSENSE, rugged outer-layer
designed and made in Scotland.
Made from Ventile, a cotton so dense
that, when wet, fibres swell and protect
you. Very breatheable and impressively
windproof. Hybrid I tried has “doubleRobert
Ventile” hood/shoulders, meaning these
are waterproof. Rest is weather-resistant.
Full double-Ventile is heavier and more expensive.
Hybrid’s a compromise between protection and weight.
It’s made-to-measure so fits perfectly. I’ve used it mainly
for climbing, including mixed Alpine routes. Hood’s big
enough for a lid. Fabric is very robust – no worries
scraping over rocks and ice. Useful kangaroo pouch.
Climbers will want an extra inch or two in the arms.
3. Bridgedale Junior Hiker Socks, £7.99
OCKS may not be the coolest thing to
review but boy are they crucial to a
good walk, particularly if it includes a 14
and an 11-year-old. Although our kids Kyla
and Cameron enjoy being out and about,
on occasion they can look for reasons to cut
a walk short. These socks, however, proved
a winner recently when we were walking in
Galloway. The socks fitted perfectly which meant the
chance of blisters occurring on a hot day was reduced
071_SMG_191017.indd 71
considerably. At the same time, their feet also didn’t get
sweaty and both kids were happy to keep the socks on
after the six mile wander.
4. Norrona Falketind PrimaLoft 60 Jacket, £179
HIS versatile insulated jacket can be
worn as a midlayer or on its own to
combat wind or light rain. It’s not
waterproof, but stands up impressively well
to showers and that horrid clinging mist.
Norrona has designed the jacket with
Primaloft insulation to replace a heavy
fleece for hiking or climbing in cold
conditions, and the fit is great, with a long back panel and
integrated hand gaiter. Its light and compact, too, and can
be rolled up into one of its side pockets when not in use.
The side pockets themselves are deep, and designed to sit
deliberately above a climbing harness, which is handy –
and something I rarely think about until dangling off a
rockface trying to get my camera out of my pocket!
04/10/2017 14:23:44
History and heritage, local culture and landscapes,
not to mention the wonderful wildlife...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?
Orkney and Shetland are unique in many ways. For one,
they possess a tangible magic quite separate from that
of the mainland, felt as soon as you slip its bonds. The
other is that they really seem to encompass the breadth
of time from the prehistoric to the present.
• Spectacular sea cliffs at Eshaness
• Multitudes of seabirds at Sumburgh Head (May-July)
• The multi-period settlement of Jarlshof
• Neolithic Orkney – a UNESCO World Heritage Centre
• The Churchill Barriers and Italian Chapel,
poignant reminders of more recent history
• Return coach travel to Aberdeen,
available from Glasgow, Edinburgh,
Dunfermline, Kinross or Perth –
or meet at port in Aberdeen
• 5 nights’ dinner (with wine), bed and
breakfast: 1 night at the Busta House
Hotel, Lerwick & two nights at the
Kirkwall Hotel, Orkney; two nights in
2-berth cabins on Serco Northlink Ferries
• 5 lunches included
• Visits to the Italian Chapel, Skara
Brae, Scalloway Castle, Maeshowe,
and Jarlshof
• Services of a professional tour manager
• Porterage at the hotels
• Gratuities (driver and tour manager)
• Bottle of mineral water each day
Please ask us about connecting flights, rail travel
and extra accommodation as this can be packaged
for those outside our designated pick-ups.
Scots Mag - November - DPS 9314605.indd 1
27/09/17 09:14:54
4 days from
4 days from
A Scottish staycation this Christmas could mean waking up
in the sheer lu ury of a grand country house hotel, looking
out over a landscape brimming with the promise of powdery
snow (followed by a warming dram by a crackling re) what
more could you want
Calling all toe-tappers and admirers of good music: why not oin us
for three nights in stunning Perthshire rom the lu urious Dunkeld
House Hotel we en oy an authentic piper playing alongside
afternoon tea and we even have a rousing Ceilidh on the cards
• Coach travel with pick-ups throughout Scotland
• Coach travel with pick-ups throughout Scotland
nights’ dinner, bed and breakfast (including Christmas day
breakfast with Buck’s i ) at the lu ury Cardrona Hotel, Golf and
Country Club
• Traditional Christmas carvery lunch
nights’ dinner, bed and full Scottish breakfast at the lu ury
Dunkeld House Hotel
• estive afternoon tea, Ceilidh performance, traditional Christmas lunch
with a accompaniment and drinks reception
• Scenic coach tour of the Border country
• Scenic coach tour of the Perthshire countryside including Aberfeldy,
Pitlochry, och Tummel and House of Bruar
• estive teas on arrival at hotel drinks reception and Christmas carols
4 days from
6 days from
It’s December 1st and the clock is about to strike midnight
If you haven’t yet made your arrangements for this year we
have an irresistible invitation for you: a splendid night stay
in the e ceptional setting of the Perthshire countryside, as guests
at the welcoming
Dunkeld House Hotel
Join us in January for Up Helly Aa, the annual winter festival of Shetland
As the sky over erwick shimmers with heat and light, reworks e plode,
brass bands play and the gloom of winter is lifted for another year It’s run
by Shetlanders and the island hospitality will be as warm as ever
• Coach travel with pick-ups throughout Scotland
• nights’ dinner, bed, and full Scottish breakfast at the lu ury
House Hotel
• Afternoon tea at our hotel
• Black tie gala dinner with Ceilidh band and drinks reception with piper
• Midnight toast with Stovies to welcome the new year
• Scenic coach tour of Perthshire countryside, including Aberfeldy,
Pitlochry, och Tummel, and House of Bruar
• Coach travel with pick-ups throughout Scotland
• night’s dinner, bed and full breakfast at the Moor eld Hotel, Brae
• nights’ accommodation in two-berth cabins on Serco Northlink erries
Hrossey or H altland with dinner and full breakfast
• ull day guided coach tours of mainland Shetland and the islands of ell
and Unst, including all ferries (weather permitting) and entrance to Jarlshof
• ree day in erwick to en oy the events of Up Helly Aa
For brochure call 01224 338004 & quote SM code, or email
To book call 01334 657155 and quote
Scots Mag - November - DPS 9314605.indd 2
27/09/17 10:50:45
A Different
Kind Of Vet
Polly Pullar
meets a
to helping rare and
“pest” species alike
HE modern fox has become a city slicker,
and though there are still plenty in the
countryside, most of the foxes I see lie
dead beside roads.
Foxes are either loved or loathed in equal
measure. They have suffered a tireless onslaught
of persecution for hundreds of years but now
face new hazards in the urban environment.
Despite knowing only too well that they can
cause havoc amongst poultry or take weak,
injured and dead lambs, I continue to love them
with undiminished passion. I often wonder if
they were one of our rarest mammals on a par
with the wildcat, would our historic cultural
attitudes differ?
Now I stand looking down on a young vixen
under anaesthetic on the operating table having
her hind leg X-rayed. The vet views the images
on the adjacent computer. The injury is healing
well; soon she will be fit for release. Her glorious
ginger pelt and neat paws, her sharp whiskery
little face and black-tipped ears, add up to ��
a vixen’s
healing leg
From the common…
Romain and
Kaniz check up
on a harbour
seal pup
…to the orphaned…
making her one of the most beautiful wild
mammals of all. It’s time for a total change of
attitude towards this adaptable survivor.
Every year the Scottish Society for the
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and other
wildlife rescue units around the country, receive
hundreds of foxes, adding to the burgeoning
numbers of wildlife casualties. The problem
grows at a frightening rate as more roads,
industrial development and intensive agriculture
scar the landscape, and habitat loss pressurises
creatures into detrimental, often fatal, contact
with humans.
In June this year alone, the SSPCA’s state-ofthe-art wildlife hospital at Fishcross in
Clackmannanshire received 2000 new patients.
Annual numbers have risen steadily since they
opened in 2012 following a £3.5million
investment on the 26-hectare (65-acre) site. Last
…and the endangered
year they dealt with 9326 casualties.
Already it doesn’t seem that the facilities are
large enough to cope, and there is growing
pressure on the overstretched, dedicated team.
The aim without exception is to return the
patients to the wild. At the helm of this
extraordinary industrial-scale wildlife rescue
facility is Colin Seddon, who works closely with
the centre’s brilliant specialist vet, Romain Pizzi.
Romain is quietly unassuming, belying the
fact that his CV makes for mind-boggling reading.
Multi-lingual, he was born and grew up in South
Africa, and has worked all over the world. His
astonishing range of qualifications means he is
highly specialised in myriad veterinary fields,
many obscure and notoriously complex.
He is a pioneer with a passion for his work,
and on spending time in his company it is
apparent that the more difficult the task, the
more able he becomes, despite being under
constant pressure.
Romain has worked with just about every
exotic species imaginable, from rare sea turtles to
giraffes and endangered parrots, yet it appears
that it is here in Scotland that he has currently
found his vocation. Twice a week he visits the
SSPCA’s centre to check on the endless round of
wildlife casualties, while also working with the
Royal Zoological Society of Scotland at
Edinburgh Zoo.
He is constantly sought to treat exotic
creatures elsewhere too, and also to carry out
pioneering keyhole procedures on various
domestic animals. Alongside this already
punishing schedule he travels extensively,
lecturing and carrying out fieldwork for wildlife
charities that strive to help species such as the
endangered orang-utans of Borneo, and the sun
bears that have suffered the horrors of bile
farming in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
While he explains that every single creature
he treats has totally different requirements, it is
clear that for Romain the most vital aspect is to
improve the welfare of all his patients. If that
means putting a creature down, then recognising
this is also paramount.
“It’s not in anyone’s interests to leave an
animal with long-term health issues – not good
for the animal, nor the person caring for it. Many
animals and birds in zoos and collections may
suffer a host of other problems due to the
unnatural conditions, stress, or perhaps high
numbers housed in close proximity.” He sighs
and looks over his glasses at the list of casualties
for the day. “I am so behind – we really have a
lot to get through, and I haven’t even started on
Veterinary science was practised as far back as
9000 BC in the Middle East, in particular Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.
The TV series All Creatures Great And Small was
based on the books of Glasgow-trained vet Alf
Wight, who used the name James Herriot.
The first veterinary college was set up in Lyons,
France, in 1762, by Claude Bourgelat.
the birds yet. Look how many there are.”
He smiles again. It is obvious that the work is
relentless. The list includes, gulls, pigeons, owls,
raptors, a host of passerines and waterfowl
including ducks, geese, swans and young
gannets. It is indeed going to be a long day.
As the work progresses, Romain’s list
continues to mount. The reception area bell
rings as more and more casualties trickle in. It is
as if he moves two steps forward and then falls
back three.
But first there are patients to see that have
already been treated; the fox for X-ray, a harbour
seal pup that has had neck and movement
problems, and a host of other seal pups with
various ailments, abscesses, eye infections,
flipper wounds or dietary issues. Some of the
animals and birds are brought to the operating
theatre, including a buzzard with a damaged
shoulder that has to be anaesthetised for X-ray.
Next, Romain visits the various sections
discussing each patient with the staff member
who cares for it, listening as their stories unfold
– a hedgehog gave birth soon after an accident
and while the stress meant that she killed some
of her offspring, three newborns have been
rescued. They are being fed two-hourly by
clearly concerned April, who will take them
home with her to feed them through the night. ��
surgery on
a beaver
Above right:
Romain treats
a beaver
“Do you think they will be all right? I don’t
think they have had any colostrum,” April says.
He reassures her, but everyone knows that
the tiny creatures may fade away at any point.
Since the 1950s UK hedgehog numbers have
crashed from an estimated 30 million to now less
than one million. A frightening statistic and even
if not totally accurate, it’s clear that all is far from
well – and every hedgehog counts.
The aroma of hedgehog fills the room as lines
and lines of cages house occupants of various
sizes. Recently a male hedgehog the size of a
beach ball, seemingly the biggest they had ever
seen, was brought in much to everyone’s shock.
Nicknamed Zeppelin, his miserable story hit
the press amid corny headlines – Vet Deflates
Hedgehog, Hedgehog Under Pressure, Prickly
Problem Solved. Following a collision with a car
the poor animal’s injuries had caused him to fill
with fluid and air, which had to be drawn off.
Romain gently checks his progress. “He still
has some fluid collecting but I really don’t want
to take any more off and think he is doing well.
Examining a
Eventually it will disperse, poor boy, but let’s
keep him on the pain relief. Is he eating OK?”
On a previous visit I watched captivated as he
removed wire he had inserted into a hedgehog’s
broken jaw, and the delicate work he performed
to rectify a tiny hedghog’s abdominal hernia. His
work here is a painstaking process, antibiotic
therapy kept to a minimum to ensure resistance
does not become a problem, and correct feeding
monitored with detailed records for each patient.
It might seem odd that a man who could
work anywhere in the world, with some of the
rarest creatures on the planet, would choose to
spend so much time with Scotland’s beleaguered
wildlife, which now also includes beavers, sea
eagles and red kites.
“I like working here,” he says while
examining a sparrowhawk’s wing. “And it’s
important. While I may be the one that puts
things back together, it’s the hard-grafting staff
here that do the real work around the clock with
little reward for the long hours they put in. Much
of this is about nursing care and they do a great
job.” Then he sighs and adds, “I often wonder if I
should go back and train to do medicine as I
would have liked to be a paediatrician.”
During the course of my travels I come across
a great many people but it is here at the SSPCA’s
Wildlife Hospital that on my numerous visits, I
have witnessed people whose work truly does
make a difference – people with dedication
beyond the call of duty.
“No,” I tell Romain, “what you and the team
do here is of vital importance.”
He smiles and walks wearily down the
passage to see more of his fortunate patients.
Above: a
baby hedgehog
Scotland’s War
Judy Vickers tells the stories of two previously unrecognised Scots
soldiers, brought to light in a national commemoration project
HEY have come in their thousands,
from grand venues such as Edinburgh
Castle and Glasgow Cathedral to tiny
village halls on far-flung islands, bringing with
them diaries, photographs, letters, medals –
fragments of lost lives, many of which hadn’t
seen the light of day for 100 years.
The Scotland’s War project was started in
2010, with the aim of building up a picture of
the contributions and sacrifices made by the
ordinary people of Scotland and its diaspora
during the First World War.
Through roadshows, public lectures,
events and a website, as well as links with local history groups,
the project has captured the public’s interest in the conflict.
Director Yvonne McEwen says it is vital to use the
current centenary as a spur, before such
artefacts disappear forever. “If we don’t
do it now, it will be lost,” she says.
Ian Hector Steven
IT was The Scots Magazine which inspired 81-year-old
retired Reverend Harold Steven to investigate the story of
his uncle, Ian Hector Steven, his father’s beloved brother.
An article in our November 2015 edition revealed the
work being done to record the “lost fallen”, those never
honoured for their sacrifice.
“I had very little to go on,” he says.
In fact, all he had was a faded Glasgow newspaper
cutting mentioning his uncle in a roll of honour, and a
childhood memory of a medal.
“My father always kept it in a little wooden tea caddy
in a sideboard in our dining room, which as a child I was
allowed to take out and look at. I knew it was his big
brother’s medal and he was very proud of it.”
His uncle, the sixth of 11 children, grew up in Partick
and emigrated to Canada. He joined the Canadian army,
was injured and died but the family knew little more.
“His sisters, my aunts, had placed adverts in Canadian
newspapers seeking information but heard nothing.”
Contacting the Scotland’s War project yielded more.
Mr Steven was put in touch with archivists in Toronto and
discovered that his uncle, a gunner with the Canadian
Field Artillery, was wounded in service in France in 1916.
His right arm was shattered and he was left with shrapnel
in the spine. He was discharged from the army and
returned to Canada where he died two years later, aged
25, from bronchial pneumonia. He is buried in St John’s
Norway cemetery in Toronto.
Crucially, the medal Mr Steven remembered as a child
was revealed to be a Memorial Cross or Silver Cross,
awarded to mothers and widows of servicemen who died
in service or whose death was “consequently attributed to
such duty”. The family put forward their case to the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission – and last
summer a CWGC gravestone was erected at his tomb.
With his son and nephew, Mr Stevens travelled to
Canada for the official dedication and Mr Stevens spoke at
the unveiling ceremony. At the foot is an inscription
added by Mr Stevens and his cousins: “fondly
remembered by family in Scotland.” ��
Rev Steven’s quest...
…led to recognition
for his uncle
George Pringle Brunton
IT was in the dusty attic in her late bachelor uncle’s home that
Joyce Durham discovered Lance Corporal George Brunton’s story
22 years ago.
In a box, along with his Bible embedded with shrapnel, were a
series of letters written home from France during 1916 and 1917,
mostly to his wife Margaret. Often from the trenches, they’re
relentlessly upbeat, telling his “dearest wifie” Meg not to worry,
missing his daughter Peggy and longing for home. “I have the
feeling just now I will never go out. I will just sit in the big chair.”
Despite his scabies and lice – “Don’t worry, they think nothing
of it here” – there were only the merest hints of the horror he
witnessed. “I am not allowed to say anything about what we did
but I shall never forget the 19th-20th October as long as I live,” he
writes in the midst of the Battle of the Somme.
“If only they would come to some peace arrangement,” he
writes longingly, promising that he will come back “a better man.”
George died aged 27 at Arras in February, 1917, while serving
with the 11th Battalion Royal Scots. The box of mementoes had
passed from Peggy, who died childless, to Joyce’s uncle.
About 15 years ago, Joyce’s daughter Fiona took the letters on
a trip with her school, Craigmount High, to the trenches. The
party took a detour to visit George’s grave and
after reading out his last letter, pupils laid a
wreath. Joyce says, “It would never have been
visited before and never has since.” Her
sister-in-law, Gail Ross, teaches P7 pupils at
Albyn School in Aberdeen about his life.
Joyce got in touch with Scotland’s War as
she felt it was important George’s story was
shared with a wider audience and preserved
for future generations. The letters now feature
on the Scotland’s War website.
Joyce says, “It’s the personal side of war,
not the nuts and bolts. George just wanted to
come home to his wife and child. His life must
have been the life of many ordinary people.”
Scottish Bookshelf
The Darker Side
Of Travelling
Being accused of spying is all part of the job
for inquisitive Scots author George R Mitchell
George taking
pictures in
a place he
shouldn’t be
EORGE R MITCHELL is a travel writer with a difference. No lazy
Caribbean cruises or luxury hotels on the Maldives for him. Instead
he will travel to the less-visited parts of Europe and the Middle East
and meet the locals, with little or no regard for the consequences.
With searching questions and controversial interviews, he often risks
unpopularity with the authorities. While researching his latest book, Mankind’s
Great Divides, he found himself in particularly deep trouble when accused
of spying during a trip to the little-known region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Inside my room, a police officer stood with his back to the door, while
one of the men started to rifle through my luggage. They turned the entire
room over. They found my electronic cigarette and
claimed the battery with the flashing light was a secret
camera. I could not believe what I was hearing. The other
man flicked through my passport and found the visa from
a past trip to their enemy, Azerbaijan. He was disgusted.
“That was scary, I’m not afraid to admit,” says George.
“I’m pretty streetwise because I have to be, but to be
accused of spying? I didn’t see that one coming. I was
given a choice – apologise for what I’d done or face
deportation and the confiscation of all my equipment. I
had no choice but to apologise, knowing that they could
have kept me there if they’d wanted.”
George caught the travelling bug in his teens through a
package holiday to Bulgaria with his parents, but he feels
you have to get under a country’s skin to know it
properly. A people person, he feels there’s nothing quite
like getting to know someone in his or her own habitat.
“I just go and walk about,” he continues. “I think only
one interview for the book was arranged in advance, with a guy in Cyprus.
Apart from that, everyone else I met was either in the street or in a coffee
shop. I find that if you take an interest in someone, he or she will talk.”
And the language barrier? “You just chance your luck,” says George. “If
you find a gem of a person, make friends and suggest a chat, they know it’s
their chance to speak English so they are well keen.”
The idea for the book came during a trip to Slovakia in the 1990s when
perestroika and glasnost was ending the divisions between west and east.
However while George recognised this massive step forward, he also ��
They claimed that the
battery for my electronic
cigarette was a secret
War and peace. Mixed metaphors in
Tiraspol, the capital of the selfdeclared republic of Transnistria
Scottish Bookshelf
Clockwise from above:
a body search outside
the Damascus Gate,
Jerusalem; George R
Mitchell; a checkpoint
at Bethlehem on the
West Bank; graffiti on
the West Bank Barrier in
realised that the opposite was happening elsewhere.
“The differences in places like Slovakia nowadays
compared to 20 years ago are huge,” he says. “However, I
realised that in other parts of the world borders weren’t
coming down, they were actually g oing up. Particularly in
the Middle East. I was fascinated by it.”
It was during a visit to Bethlehem that George’s singular
approach to meeting folk paid particular dividends.
“I met this man by chance in a coffee shop in Jerusalem.
We shared a table due to there being no empty ones. He
asked what I was doing in Israel. I told him, and he told
me he was a member of the Israel Defence Force.
“Would he talk with me about his job? I expected a
firm ‘no,’ but to my surprise, he was willing. No names or
photos, of course. I began by asking about the 2014 war
with Hamas, and once he started, he did not hold back.”
“Then followed an in-depth discussion of the pros and
cons of the Israel-Palestine conflict, with George getting an
exclusive, personal interview few other journalists or writers
could dream of. But a balanced view is always his aim.
“I deliberately don’t take sides, and I think my book
bears witness to that,” he says.
In the course of writing this book George has made
many friends. Not politicians or the authorities, but the
“real” people, as he calls them.
“The less-westernised the place you’re in, the nicer the
people are. When Waterstones suggested we did a wee
book launch thing and said I could bring some of my
friends I said, no, that’s not going to be easy. I don’t have
any friends as such at home. They are all over the world,
of all ages and religions. All kinds of wonderful people.”
His travels take up most of the year, but Aberdeenshire
can easily take the place of Azerbaijan or Albania.
“I return home to Aberdeenshire around twice per
year and it is heaven for me,” he says. “I usually end up
walking round Loch Muick where I always stop and
marvel at the view over to Queen Victoria’s house.
“Far away from razor wire, walls and division, the loch
is so peaceful. It’s one of my all-time favourite spots on the
planet. Its only then that I’m reminded just how beautiful
Scotland really is and how much I miss it.”
l Mankind’s Great Divides
by George R Mitchell is
published by Luath Press,
£14.99 (PB). See next page
for a great offer.
SMAN1 Paperback with 224 pages. £12
Mankind’s Great Divides by George R Mitchell
In today’s current ‘post-truth’ society, Mankind’s Great Divides is an immediate
and personal account of the sorry state of our world.
In this ground-breaking new book, Press & Journal columnist George R Mitchell travels around some of the most
divided and war-torn countries on the planet. From Israel and Palestine to as close to home as Belfast, unrecognised
and invalidated Nagorno-Karabakh in the Caucasus to Russia and the borders of the EU, George has spent three
years gathering photographs, first-hand accounts of war and despair and interviews with the people of these
countries to provide a precious insight into what it’s really like to live on one of Mankind’s Great Divides.
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Scottish Bookshelf
national drink can be used in food.
“The Chinese have whisky
with green tea, Brazilians with
fresh coconut water, Indians
with spicy lamb chops.
BOOK Why should they get to
OF THE have all the fun?” she asks.
There are several key
ingredients in this,
Rachel’s first book, the main
one being that very sense of fun.
It shines through in her various
escapades in her search for
answers, including gatecrashing a
stag party and getting angry about
chips. As you’d expect, the
journey is peppered with recipes
for cocktails, puddings and
Chasing The Dram: savoury dishes – all including a
dram or two.
Finding The Spirit
The research is thorough, but
Of Whisky
not over-egged, offering a concise
overview with an essential guide
By Rachel McCormack
to whisky distilling across the
country, all neatly woven into the
compelling narrative.
And there’s a golden thread of
THE Scottish approach to wh isky
glee and wanderlust running
– drunk with no ice and only a
throughout – by dint of the fact
wee bit of water – is, to
the writer is getting to travel
paraphrase Rachel McCormack,
rather dull and unimaginative. It’s around the nation and drink
whisky. Who wouldn’t be
a contention I’m entirely at odds
excited about that?
with. There’s nothing dull about
Indeed, on the dust jacket is a
appreciating the inherent
quote from Val McDermid:
vibrancy, craft and depth of a
“Hard not to hate Rachel
dram, just as it is.
McCormack, who bags the best
That said, and to be fair,
gig of the year and then writes a
Rachel’s argument sets the
brilliant book.”
impetus for an uisge beatha
I’d not go as far to call this
odyssey, spanning the length and
tome brilliant. But the once
breadth of Scotland as she
London-based Scottish author
voyages to discover how our
finds a deeply held passion in
the water of life, both at the
many stops along the way and
within herself.
And you can’t argue with that.
Euan Duguid
A sense of fun
shines through her
A Message From
The Other Side
By Moira Forsyth
A novel about love and marriage
on one side and hate and revenge
on the other. The author highlights
the damage people can do to each
other in a suspenseful novel that
swings the emotions to and fro.
Mind’s Eye
By Kate Philp
A collection of watercolours ranging
from the Highlands and Islands to
the Borders. Philp began painting
in Musselburgh and her first
exhibition was in Edinburgh’s
Lyceum Theatre. This book
showcases her work over the last
20 years and she includes her
thoughts and reasons behind each
painting, which leads to a very
personal journey.
First for fact and fiction
By Neil Mackay
The North Coast 500
Guide Book
The Second Blast Of
The Trumpet
By Charles Tait
The 108km (67-mile) route is
described in detail with historical,
cultural and natural highlights.
Thanks to Rucksack Readers we
have six copies to give away. Go to
Self-researched, well-photographed
guide to a route that has received
rave reviews. Tait adds route
descriptions to information on
nature, history and archaeology. A
comprehensive information source.
By Marie Macpherson
The second in a trilogy on Scottish
reformer John Knox. Under a fiery
and uncompromising exterior lay a
gentler side of friend, lover and
husband, a feeling conveyed
perfectly by the author.
Books In Brief… Edinburgh And Glasgow
The Edinburgh Of John Kay
Eric Melvin
Kay was an artist and engraver
who spent many years sketching
his contemporaries, and leaving
us with images of many of the
colourful characters who walked
the streets of the capital. £12.99
Glasgow The Postcard Collection
Adam Smith
160 illustrations that will take you
on a nostalgic journey through
this famous city. You’ll see
familiar sights in a way you’ve
possibly never seen before and in
a way you might possibly never
see again. £14.99 Amberley
Enlightenment Edinburgh
Sheila Szatkowski
In the 18th century, Edinburgh
was the intellectual hub of the
western world and in this book
the author shows how this was
achieved through the people and
the places. Beautifully illustrated.
£12.99 Birlinn
Exploring Glasgow
Robin Ward
This book describes almost 500
buildings and structures, featured
not only for their architectural
importance but for their social
and historical significance. There
are also 10 suggested walks in
different areas. £16.99 Birlinn
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.
Abbeys Way
n ew bu i ld
r ur al
u r b an
co ast
The Seton
Room, far left
university hall
dining room, left
Its intricately
painted ceiling,
Restored Riddle’s Court
– Open For Learning
A 400-year-old building off the Royal Mile is preserved for posterity
IDDLE’S Court has a history few other buildings can
match. It is an A-listed 16th century courtyard close
set behind the Royal Mile, not far from Edinburgh
Castle. Over the years, it has been a merchant’s house,
the residence of philosopher David Hume, a university
hall and a Fringe venue.
Now, after a £5.8 million refurbishment by the Scottish
Historic Buildings Trust, it is a centre for conferences,
private functions, educational programmes and town and
gown events in partnersh ip with Edinburgh University.
Over the past 20 years the trust has raised in excess of
£25 million and, working with local authorities and
Historic Environment Scotland, has restored more than 30
buildings. Current and previous projects include the
Custom House in Leith, Blackburn House, West Lothian
and Strathleven House, Dunbartonshire.
Riddle’s Court is a significant part of Edinburgh’s Old
Town. Its evolution over the centuries can be measured
through its fabric which represents changes in ownership,
craft styles and decoration.
Up to 2007 it was owned by the City of Edinburgh, but
by then the building was on the “at risk” register because
of neglect and it being unfit for most 21st century
purposes. SHBT stepped in and has now saved the
building for generations to come – if they had not, the
Court would have closed for good.
n ew build
r ur al
u r b an
co ast
Original features have been restored
Thankfully, and principally through heritage Lottery
funding, the cash was raised and an architectural marvel
can look forward to a long and healthy life.
“The saving of the building for the nation is incredibly
significant,” says the trust’s Russell Clegg. “It is the only
surviving 16th century merchant’s house that is publicly
accessible. Many original features were discovered during
the renovation, including painted board and beamed
ceilings dating from the 1590s and an oven and kitchen
range dating from the same period.”
The building is now to be known as The Patrick
Geddes Centre. The entire rebuilt and restructured
Riddle’s Court has been named after the Edinburgh
visionary of the late 19th century, famed for his pioneering
work in education, conservation, town planning and social
science. At the heart of the renovated building is the
Patrick Geddes Centre for Learning.
“The building contains the finest examples of Geddes’
conservation work,” continues Russell. “His approach was
to preserve the essence of the building but still make
viable and practical use of it. To that end, he established a
hall of residence for Edinburgh university students in 1890.”
The ethos of Geddes rings loud and long in the new
building. His motto Vivendo Discimus (by living we learn)
can still be seen chiselled above the archway leading to
the inner courtyard, and the new centre is now a hub for
activity-based learning and personal development.
For those with an eye for decorative art, the building is
a must-see. Plaster and paint represent the work of master
craftsmen from the 16th century to the present day.
You can see it for yourself in a number of ways.
Take part in study days organised by SHBT or immerse
yourself in workshops and research opportunities
organised by colleges and universities in Edinburgh. But if
you want a truly in-the-heart-of-it experience, why not
book the King’s Chamber and stay the night?
King James VI held a banquet in that very room in
1598. Now, that takes an overnight stay in Edinburgh to
a whole new level!
Jim Crumley, Scotland’s leading wildlife author,
The Beauty
Of Nature
Jim is in thoughtful mood as he ponders the
question of our relationship with mountains
writes exclusively for you every month...
LIKE golden eagles with my mountains. And
ptarmigan. And starry saxifrage, dwarf willow and
cloudberry, and rowans and junipers that grow out of
bare rock. And snow buntings that come and go with
the snow. But golden eagles most of all.
What all these tribes of nature have in common is
that they belong to the mountains in a way that is
beyond you or me. They are ambassadors for the
natural habitat of the master race of mountains, and
that habitat is beauty. And beauty in the mountains has
been much on my mind.
Golden eagles changed everything about my
relationship with mountains, but I was only open to the
possibilities of a different relationship with mountains
in the first place because I read a most remarkable
book. Its title is Undiscovered Scotland.
It was published in 1951, and it was written by
W.H. Murray who was arguably Scotland’s finest
mountaineer, and unarguably Scotland’s finest writer
of mountaineering literature.
In Undiscovered Scotland, and its predecessor,
Mountaineering In Scotland, he established the ��
Wild About Scotland
benchmark, and I suggest that no one else
accounts of individual climbs are
has ever got close since. I have just
electrifying and insightful.
awakened it from its long slumber in my
Even allowing for the possibility that the
bookshelves and re-read it for the first time
post-war era in which he was writing might
in perhaps 20 years.
have found his ideas more accessible and
Why so long I do not begin to
more acceptable than might today’s
understand, but from the moment I read its
generations encountering them for the first
opening lines, I remembered just how
time, I found myself gasping anew at the
good a writer Bill Murray was. It reads:
sheer daring of the writing. So much so that
A perching snow
“The exploratory urge moves every man
I sat down with the book in my lap and a
who loves hills. The quest of the
notebook by my side, rummaging among
mountaineer is knowledge. He is drawing close to one
the scraps of the philosophies that have come to underpin
truth about mountains when at last he becomes aware
my own approach to mountains. I pencilled a passage at
that he never will know them fully – not in all their aspects the end of a chapter on Glen Affric:
– nor ever fully know his craft. Like the true philosopher,
“…We felt alive and alert and at one with the whole
the true mountaineer can look forward with rejoicing to
environment. After looking out to the hills for a whole
an eternity of endeavour: to realisation without end.
morning I noticed that while their radiant power of beauty
“I have climbed for 15 years and have hopes of another
grew, their outer form ceased to matter. What indeed did
40, but I know that my position at the close of my span
it matter if a hill-slope ran this way or that, or a copse
will be the same as it is now, and the same as it was on
stood here or there?… Much of aesthetics was shown to
that happy day when I first set foot on a hill – the Scottish
be a vain rationalising after the event. From the mountainHighlands will spread out before me, an unknown land.”
land burst a power of beauty subject to no bond of
That comparison between mountaineer and
reason… I saw and recognised an imageless beauty, of
philosopher is no idle proposition, for Murray is
which material things are outward signs, receiving from it
demonstrably both. In Undiscovered Scotland, the
their being and manifesting it as their purpose.”
Glencoe basking in sunlight
Clockwise from
left: juniper,
cloudberry and
rowan – the
sights of nature
And then a final thought:
“Life is short, the mountain infinitely high, but the
route goes.”
That sentiment was familiar, and I recognised it at
once, for it has echoes in a poem called Landscape and I
by a later but not less daring writer of the mountainous
west, Norman MacCaig. The final two verses:
This means, of course, Schiehallion in my mind
Is more than mountain. In it he leaves behind
A meaning, an idea, like a hind
Couched in a corrie.
So then I’ll woo the mountain till I know
The meaning of the meaning, no less. Oh
There’s a Schiehallion anywhere you go,
The thing is, climb it.
● Schiehallion is the 57th highest Munro, in
between Sgurr a’ Choire Ghlais (Strathfarrar)
and Beinn a’ Chaorainn (Cairngorms). Only
one metre separates them.
I can point to a time in my own life when I started to
turn away from that species of mountaineering that
defined itself by whether or not the mountaineer reached
the summit.
In the late 1970s and early ‘80s, I was involved in an
eagle watch at a particularly vulnerable golden eagle eyrie
which was routinely being targeted by egg thieves. The
job demanded long periods of stillness and being quiet,
and of course, the result was that I saw a great deal more
of the mountain wildlife than I was accustomed to seeing,
and – of course – I was seeing golden eagles often.
Something inside me that had been captive lurched
free then, and slowly my life started to pursue a different
course. What I had not been sure of until now, however,
was the seed of it all. What, or who, had made me so
receptive to such a defining moment? And I have just
found the answer – it was Bill Murray’s book.
“Through the very uncertainties of our climb my mind
became unusually observant, embracing many simple
things that commonly pass unregarded. While searching
for a handhold the eye would alight on a blade of grass
peeping from a crack, and see the amazing grace of its
fluting, the fresh brightness of its green against the rock;
and although the joy was that of one second the memory
lived on. We all know leagues of hill-side heather, but
stand on the ledge of a tall cliff, look at a single shoot ��
Golden eagles – to Jim, the
encapsulation of nature’s beauty
sprouting from a joint in the wall, its perfect leaf-design,
the pureness of the bell, the harmony between the rich
green and the purple, and there, in that one branch, you
see a beauty matching the quality of hill.”
In 1990, while researching for a book I was writing on
Glencoe, I had been reading Undiscovered Scotland
again, for some of its finest work is set in Glencoe. But I
remember scratching my head at a phrase Bill Murray had
used after he and two companions were hit by a rockfall
in the Dauphine Alps. One of his companions was killed
and he and the other climber were badly injured. In a
mesmerising final chapter entitled The Effects Of
Mountaineering On Men, Bill Murray wrote:
“…when we go among mountains, although they will
always produce effects on our personalities, yet whether
they are good effects or bad is determined entirely by
ourselves. It is our own attitude of mind that determines
effects. Always the choice is ours. Like the jungle, the
mountains are neutral.”
The mountains are neutral… it seemed a strange
phrase to me to emerge from such a mountaineer, such a
writer, so I wrote to him to ask him about it. And, sitting
writing this very article, I stumbled across his reply, for it
was folded away in the back of my copy of Undiscovered
Scotland. It was dated January 17, 1990, and reading it
again brought something close to tears to my eyes.
It had begun by giving me carte blanche to quote
“whatever you need” from his writing. Then there was a
paragraph of warm encouragement for my endeavours.
Then he addressed my question:
“My ‘mountains are always neutral’ words are a bit
overstated – a moment of disillusionment – and I should
have stuck to Spencer Chapman’s more moderate idea
(The Jungle is Neutral). Because taken as a symbol – and
everything in the natural world symbolises something
beyond itself – the mountains are far from neutral – and
most positive. The trouble is we don’t all have this
modicum of insight!”
I folded the letter away again, at the front of the book
this time, poured myself a drop of a f avourite whisky,
raised the glass to the memory of W.H. Murray and that
way of life.
Beauty in the mountains of Scotland means many
things to many people. To me it is best symbolised by
golden eagles adrift in a corrie, and their fellow travellers
and kindred spirits, the true natives of the true country.
The true country? Well, that was also Bill Murray’s
phrase. He wrote:
“The first sight that met our eyes when we crested the
ridge was Loch Linnhe, and I can remember nothing else.
All the colours of the encircling hills were in it, rich and
subtle, the most potent of mountain bouquets. Under its
influence, and a strong influence it must have been, I
pitied Tilman. He had to hasten south that night and
prepare to leave for the Himalaya.
“Right before our eyes was the true country.”
W.H. Murray wrote a book entitled Mountaineering
In Scotland in a POW camp after being captured by
the Germans during the Second World War.
His autobiography, The Evidence Of Things Not
Seen, was completed on his death in 1996 by
his wife, Anne.
Murray was deputy leader on the 1951 Everest
Reconnaissance Expedition but missed out on the
1953 expedition due to a failure to acclimatise.
ele ating
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.
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9088190_SM_Cal_2018_Ad.indd 1
21/06/2017 09:41
Carina’s Kitchen
…and others, like the dominance
of French cuisine, stay the same
Courgette & Lanark Blue Soufflés
’VE been thinking a lot about the difference between
my own childhood memories and those of my children.
I suspect my kids think I was born in the pre-Victorian
era and that I lived most of my life before they came along
either down a coal mine or up a chimney. I seem to have
painted such an alien picture of my early years that they
now don’t take me seriously at all.
It’s true that, when I compare our childhoods, they
really are very different. For one thing, when I was
younger, treats were treats. Being allowed a proper bottle
of Coca Cola felt as good as a trip to Disneyland – though
there was no chance we’d ever have got to Disneyland.
That’s just one example: the list is massive.
However, as my children keep telling me, times have
changed. With this in mind, I have decided to go all out
and create a memory-making treat for someone who
really deserves it.
What could be more fancy and
French than a soufflé? The Errington
family are our food heroes and their
beautiful Lanark Blue is made to the
same style as that very famous French
cheese Roquefort.
A lovely French-Scots combination.
l 50g unsalted butter, plus extra for
l 500g courgettes
l Salt
l 50g plain flour
l ½ nutmeg, freshly grated
l 150ml full-fat milk
100_SMG_191017.indd 100
My mother was 89 recently and, to make the birthday
very special, the girls and I took Nonna to Paris for a day.
It was a flying visit, literally, but she hasn’t been for more
than 50 years so we wanted her to have a memorable
Post-war Paris was the furthest my parents used to
travel. It was easy to access from London and, in the days
when the car could be loaded onto the train at Edinburgh,
Paris was the perfect destination for a break.
Like most of our international cities, Paris has a
reputation for fabulous food. It was one of the culinary
capitals of the world in my mother’s day, and it
remains so now.
Growing up, our cooking at home had many French
influences and I hold onto them for high days and
holidays – even though my day-to-day cooking is far more
Scots Italian (that’s pasta and mince and tatties, just not at
the same sitting).
Well, I’ve been saving up and I have a few treats in
store for Mum. On the ever-growing list are visits to
legendary boulangerie Du Pain et Des Idées; macarons
from Ladurée and pastries from Fauchon – and that’s
just the snacks.
My tummy likes these French delicacies, perhaps
because I have the heathy side of life covered with my
Italian cookery. As I never tire of saying, with Italian
recipes and Scottish ingredients, we have the best of both
worlds right here at home – it made me think I should
have forgone Paris and settled for a day in the kitchen –
that would have been just as memorable!
One thing is for sure, I never got to go to Paris for the
day with my grandmother, but my daughters will have
amazing memories living the high life with their Nonna.
Maybe changed times aren’t so bad after all.
l Freshly ground white pepper
l 3 eggs, separated
l 100g Lanark Blue cheese
Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4 and
grease 6 individual 150ml ramekins.
Coarsely grate the courgettes. Leave
in a colander with a generous pinch of
salt to draw out the water.
Melt the butter in a pan over a
medium heat, then add the flour and
nutmeg. Reduce the heat and cook,
stirring frequently, for 4-5min. Add
the milk and season to taste.
Continue cooking until the mixture
has thickened, stirring with a balloon
whisk to help prevent lumps. Add egg
yolks and beat until smooth. With the
heat very low, add the Lanark Blue
and beat again until smooth and
thickened. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze any excess moisture from
the courgettes and add to the
mixture. Beat the egg whites until
very stiff in a clean, dry bowl, then
gently fold into the mixture.
Divide between the greased
ramekins and set in a bain-marie.
Bake for about 25min in the
preheated oven until light, risen and
golden. Serve immediately.
04/10/2017 14:30:07
Don’t miss Carina’s column next month for another great recipe
100_SMG_191017.indd 101
04/10/2017 14:29:01
Slàinte Mhath
At The Cutting Edge
Your whisky expert visits a distillery that is marking a long and
illustrious past by looking ahead to an even brighter future
T’S not exactly a sair fecht being a whisky writer.
And on occasion, I reflect on the parallels between my
gig at The Scots Magazine and an intrepid usige
beatha-loving scribe of old.
Alfred Barnard (1837-1918) was a journalist who,
between 1885 and 1887, visited every distillery in the UK,
162 in total, of which 129 were in Scotland.
His raison d’etre was to provide an article for each site
in the Harper’s Weekly Gazette and in his subsequent
book, The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom, first
published in 1887.
On his route, somewhat like my modern-day labour of
love, Barnard discovered Scotch that seduced his senses,
characters who captured his imagination – and distilleries
he quite simply didn’t want to leave.
One of these was Teaninich Distillery in Alness,
Ross-shire. Built in 1817, this was one of the first legitimate
distilleries in the north Highlands at a time when illicit
distilling was rife. By 1887 it was the first distillery north of
Inverness to have electricity and a telephone.
Speaking of that very innovation, Donald Colville,
Global Brand Ambassador for Diageo – Teaninich’s parent
company – explained, “Barnard was intrigued by that very
fact, but had to run off to get a train to Dingwall for the
next leg of his journey. He very much regretted the
short-lived nature of his stay!”
The Teaninich facility
But I reckon it wasn’t just the cutting-edge nature of
this northern dram that captivated Barnard.
He would have done his homework and, like me,
discovered the compelling story of the distillery’s
founding father.
Captain Hugh Munro (1770-1846) was a typical early
19th-century distillery owner – a landowner who built
Teaninich to provide additional income from his estate
and a ready market for the grain grown by his tenants.
But in another respect, this man broke the mould.
Like so many of his neighbours, he joined the army
during the wars with Revolutionary France and during a
skirmish near the city of Nijmegen in 1794, a musket ball
struck Hugh in the side of the head – leaving him blind.
The life-changing injuries were compounded on his
return home, after his father-in-law to be withdrew
consent to marry his daughter, on account of the
debilitating wounds.
Not long afterwards, she married a wealthy local
landowner instead.
Stoic Hugh refused to be disheartened and took to
managing his Teaninich estate with aplomb – including
embracing whisky distilling.
Today this is one of Scotland’s most modern and
innovative operations, producing the highest-quality
single malt for a range of world-leading blended Scotch
Investment has brought
the plant up to date
Teaninich manager
Dianne Farrell
whisky brands, such as Johnnie Walker. Yet it remains,
perhaps a bit like Sir Hugh himself, the stoic, quiet man of
malt, not usually opening its doors to the public. Until
recently, that is.
And that open day brought 200 years of distilling into
sharp focus.
“There are no velvet ropes at the door. No plant pots,”
continued Donald.
“This is a working site where all our people are really
passionate about getting on with the job.”
Donald, who led tours around the site on the open
day, added, “On one tour I sat down on wall for a quick
chat with the group of guests.
“It was part of the original distillery… looking on to
part of the site that is just three years old.
“Teaninich personifies the progressive and curious
nature of the Scotch whisky industry, having constantly
evolved but staying true to its signature style of spirit.”
In 2013 Diageo invested £26 million to build a new
stillhouse here – the equivalent of building a new
medium-sized distillery.
That meant adding six brand-new copper wash stills
and six spirit stills, to double production capacity to 10
million litres per year.
Where recent guests saw all that machinery in action,
Diane Farrell, Teaninich Distillery manager, said the open
day symbolised self-discovery for those who work within
its walls.
It’s not the distillery
that makes whisky,
it’s the people
“It is a great honour to be the manager of Teaninich as
we celebrate its 200th year.
“I think the open day gave our team the chance to
show off to friends and family – and to really connect with
the community.
“And that’s left a buzz around the place.”
“Throughout the 200 years, since Captain Hugh
Munro first had the idea of building a distillery here,
everyone involved at the distillery has worked every day
to make great single malt Scotch whisky.
“What the open day reaffirmed, for me, is that it’s not
the distillery that makes whisky – it’s the people.”
Little wonder Barnard didn’t want to leave.
Euan Downs A Dram
Teaninich has long been loved by blenders due
to its light yet flavoursome style.
The 10YO, part of the Flora and Fauna range, is
a whisky that is beautifully grassy with hints of
fresh vanilla pods and tinned pineapple.
To taste, you find a more gentle cereal, malty,
almost nutty notes with a refreshing dryness
to finish.
My verdict – Worth missing the train for.
Eat, Drink, Sleep...The Reviews
ITH parts of
the building
dating from
1801, this AA three-star
hotel, beside the Crinan
Canal, is certainly full of
While co-owner
Christine puts this down
to two centuries of
hospitality – “It felt
friendly and welcoming
from before we took
over” – clearly the
relaxed liveliness of the
bar and conservatory
owes a great deal to the
present-day warm
welcome, as well as the
fine selection of both
food and drink on offer.
Our room was
comfortable and spacious
with some lovely old
furniture. The bathroom,
while a little basic, was
huge, spotlessly clean and
with instant hot water.
The heaters were easy to
adjust and effective very
quickly. The cornices and
the windows are original
– so no double glazing,
but the canalside location
was very quiet at night.
There are blackout blinds
and also pretty curtains
with sparkles – made by
Christine, we discovered!
She also makes the
breakfast and desserts,
serves in the bar and
clearly puts her heart and
soul into the place.
Many folk in the bar
104_SMG_191017.indd 104
Cairnbaan Hotel
With both history and atmosphere, this little gem is
perfectly situated for numerous outdoor attractions
Comfort at the canalside
were clearly on first name
terms with the staff, and a
couple we chatted to
eagerly recommended
the food. Apparently the
menu keeps growing
because it’s impossible to
drop dishes that have
become favourites. Big
hotel chains, take note!
Christine spoke
warmly of the creative
kitchen team, who make
the most of the local
seafood as well as fine
meats from nearby farms.
Between us we had
smoked fish platter,
seafood soup, fish pie
and an unusual veggie
dish with halloumi,
spiced cauliflower and
potato cakes, all delicious
and satisfying. Having
earlier walked back up
the hill from the Mull of
Kintyre lighthouse, we
ordered fig and brandy
frangipane and peach
cheesecake – although
we didn’t anticipate quite
such generous portions!
The Cairnbaan has an
extensive selection of
wines and we enjoyed a
bottle of Jackalberry, a
fruity South African
chenin blanc.
After a quiet, very
comfortable night, we
woke early and set off for
a stroll by the canal. It’s
four miles to Crinan along
the towpath, but with my
photographer husband
distracted by misty hills,
reflections in the water
and picturesque bothies,
04/10/2017 14:35:05
Walkerburn, Scottish Borders
we didn’t get that far –
not before breakfast,
Ah, breakfast. As light
or hearty as you wish –
the smoked salmon and
scrambled egg with a
generous squeeze of
lemon was delicious, as
was the full works with
black pudding and
tattie scone.
Contrasting with the
bustling bar, the residents’
lounge is tranquil and
tastefully furnished in
period style, with old
books and a perfectly
tuned Spencer baby
grand piano that was a
joy to play. I don’t
generally sit down at
pianos in public places,
so I’ll put that down to
the friendly atmosphere
too, not the wine – this
was the following
morning, remember!
There’s a wealth of
wildlife and history on the
doorstep – Christine
recommends Kilmartin
Glen; Knapdale, site of
the beaver trials; Mhoine
Mhor SSSI plus
archaeological finds from
the ancient Gaelic
kingdom of Dalriada.
Crinan itself, probably
easier to reach on foot
than by car, is remarkably
busy for a village at the
end of the road, with
wildlife boat tours, canal
traffic and spectacular
panoramic sea views.
We left the Cairnbaan
well rested, well fed and
with smiles on our faces.
If you’re looking for a
welcoming, relaxed hotel
with great food and lots
to do nearby, this should
be on your list. Open
year-round, a small twin
or double room is £91
per night, with breakfast
at £14.95 per person.
A large double is £139.
Refreshing crab
salad starter
Katrina Patrick enjoys a five-star
and five-course dinner
FOOD: Windlestraw in Walkerburn won Independent
Scottish Hotel of the Year this year, so we decided to
pay it a visit to see if the food stood up to the
accommodation. I’m pleased to say it did!
The set menu changes with the seasons to offer the
best of local produce, and great care is taken to make
sure repeat guests don’t get the same menu twice.
Owners Sylvia and John inquired in advance if I had
any dietary requirements and made every effort to chat
to guests and ensure we felt welcome.
We sat by a roaring fire to enjoy a welcome drink
and canapés – including oysters with home-grown
elderberries and apple.
The crab salad starter was a pleasant awakener for
the palate, but the fish course of halibut stole the show.
It flaked apart beautifully, served in a butter sauce with
sea aster and hazelnuts.
The pork fillet main was deliciously tender, and
dessert – a homemade elderflower cheesecake with
strawberry sorbet and lemonbalm meringue – caused
an awe-filled silence to descend on the diners. This was
followed by a cheeseboard, before coffee and delicious
homemade petit fours. The whole meal was fine
traditional Scottish fayre, with a delicious gourmet
twist. 9/10
SERVICE: John and Sylvia could not have been
friendlier, or more knowledgeable. 10/10
AMBIENCE: Roaring fires in the grates, a live pianist on
grand piano, and rustic, elegant décor provided a
luxurious setting. 10/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: £55pp for five gourmet courses
of high-quality produce (six if you include
the canapes!) and a welcome drink. 9/10
A warm welcome in the bar
104_SMG_191017.indd 105
FACILITIES: Clean, tidy, well-appointed,
and obviously chosen with care. 9/10
04/10/2017 14:36:01
My family and I drove the North
Coast 500 back in June. We drove
it “against the flow”, in an east to
west direction, which meant that
our side of the road wasn’t too
busy. A lot of our friends have
asked us if it was busy, to which we
re ply that we did a lot of the big
driving in the late afte rnoons and
early evenings and so there were
very few other cars on the road.
The othe r point is that the route is
500 miles long. That is a lot of
road, and therefore you are very
rarely stuck behind other cars or
motorhomes, and mostly have the
road to yourself.
Ewan Hastings, Roslin
Visitor’s Book
I recently climbed the Corbett
Morven in Aberdeenshire and
found under the stones on the
summit wind shelter a visitors’ book
in a stout wooden box. It has been
regularly used and is in good
condition. Having climbed many
Munros and other hills, I have not
encountered this before. Does any
reader know if there any other
Scottish summits with a similar
visitors’ book?
Tim Hill, Bakewell
On Your Bike
It was good to see Cameron McNeish referring to the
Rough-Stuff Fellowship (RSF) in his delightfully informative
article On The Saddle . The RSF is the olde st off-road
cycle touring and mountain biking club in the world
(founded 1955) and is still going strong. Cameron’s
bikepacking raison d’etre, using two wheels to take
him through fantastic landscapes, is aptly expressed
in his description of his ramblings along Ardverikie,
Ben Alder and Loch Ericht. It proves that even in this
hectic world you need only two wheels and a bit of
camping equipment to grab an adventure.
Henk Francino, Holland, wins a crystal whisky glass
Jane Haining
What a surprise to se e a photo of
my pare nts in the article about Jane
Haining, matron of the boarding
school of the Scottish School and
Mission in Budapest. My father,
George Knight, was director there
from 1953 to 1940, and I grew up
knowing of Jane Haining and her
life. My parents loved their time in
Hungary, but had to flee in 1940
and spent the next seven years in
Glasgow. They never forgot
Hungary and kept in touch with
Hungarians who had to leave
their homeland.
Ann Knight, Dunedin
Missing Church
I enjoyed Kenny MacAskill’s article
on The Kirk Abroad but was
surprised to see no mention of St
Andrew’s Church, Chennai
(formerly Madras). I’ve visited this
fine building as well as St Andrew’s
Church, Kolkata, which joined the
Church of North India in 1970.
Juliet Chaplin, Cheam
In our September issue, in our
article headed When Stars
Align, we stated that Trossachs
Distillery head distiller Danny
Gowrie won an international
award for McQueen Gin.
Trossachs Distillery managing
director Dale McQueen
wishes us to point out that it
was the company that won
the Double Gold Me dal at the
San Francisco World Spirit
Competition and not Danny.
He also states that
McQueen Super Premium
Dry Gin was jointly developed
with him and is not solely
Danny’s work.
n Send us your news!
The Scots Magazine ,
2 Albert Square, Dundee
DD1 9QJ or email us at
Loch Ness accommodation & tour package, Caroline Preece, Worcester; Signed copies by the authors short-listed
for the McIvanney Prize, Irene Pearson, Blairgowrie.
We want to hear your stories
The rich colours of late
autumn are on full display
at the Birks of Aberfeldy in
this stunning photograph
from Andrew Steele
108_SMG_191017.indd 108
04/10/2017 15:19:58
108_SMG_191017.indd 109
04/10/2017 15:20:27
£15 .98
The Best Of The Aberdonian
Brought to you by The Evening Express, The Best Of the Aberdonian is a celebration of Aberdeen’s rich
and colourful history, beautifully illustrated by fantastic archive images from throughout the decades.
Join us on a nostalgic journey and remember Aberdeen’s landmarks and much-loved traditions.
Paperback book. Contains 100 pages of nostalgic photographs.
CALL: 0800 318846 (Freephone UK).
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Check our website for more offers and for overseas price.
Lines open 8am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm Sat, (GMT).
Please have your credit/debit card details to hand.
SM Aberdonian Ad v3.indd 1
19/07/17 11:59:01
Around Scotland
Harbour Festival Of Light, Irvine, November 30December 3. A St Andrew’s Day weekend with a
difference that boasts a four-day art and light
spectacular. The events starts with an incredible aerial
art spectacular by Spinal Chord Acrobatics, with the
A-listed harbour Linthouse decorated with a
3-Day Residential Writing Course,
Durhamhill, Castle Douglas,
November 14-16. Discover your
writing skills with tutors Margaret
Elphinstone and Mary Smith.
Workshop topics include the creation
of character and plot, the role of the
narrative voice and writing from
personal experience.
Duck And Goose Walk, RSPB
Scotland, Southwick, Dumfries,
November 15 & 22, December 6.
Go along and see how many different
kinds of ducks and geese you can
find. Phone 01387 780579.
kaleidoscope of colour. Fireworks will light the night
sky and you can enjoy hundreds of brightly-coloured
origami boats floating on an illumination trail on the
River Irvine. The event is staged by the town’s Scottish
Maritime Museum.
Illuminight, Dean Castle Country
Park, Kilmarnock, November 16.
A magical state-of-the-art light
experience for all the family, set
amongst the rivers, ponds and trees
of the park and castle. Quality local
food and drink is also available. Book
online at
Islay Sessions, Isle of Islay,
November 17-19. A weekend of
marvellous music with sessions and
workshops from musicians from both
traditional and folk scenes.
Oban Winter Festival, various
venues, November 17-26. A series
of activities, films and light shows.
Killie Comic Con, Dick Institute,
Kilmarnock, November 18. A chance
to browse through a huge variety of
comic books, artwork and handmade
crafts. Phone 01563 554300.
Around Scotland
Winter Warmer Walk, Blackness
Castle, Linlithgow, November 19.
Learn about local wildlife with a
guided walk along Blackness Bay.
Giraldo’s Gin, Brisbane House
Hotel, Largs, November 24.
Spend an evening with 16 artisan gin
producers and taste more than
40 gins. Phone 01475 675200.
Traquair Christmas Opening,
November 25-26. Enjoy free entry to
this beautiful house, which will be
decorated in the Victorian Christmas
Ayrshire Arts & Crafts Fair, Concert
Hall & Walker Hall, Troon,
December 2. Ayrshire’s biggest
monthly craft fair with 40 stalls
and thousands of quality handcrafted items.
Winterstorm 2017, Troon,
November 24-25. Seaside rock of a
musical kind, with a collection of hits
from across four decades.
Mugenkyo Taiko Drummers,
Falkirk Town Hall, November 26.
Feel the energy and savour the
power of thundering rhythms on
huge taiko drums, mixed with
masked choreography and inventive
lighting. Email venue@
Santa’s Woodland Experience,
Balfron Station, starts November 25.
Join Santa on a search for his
woodland home and enjoy hot drinks
and food at the journey’s end.
Saltire Race Day, Musselburgh
Racecourse, November 30.
Celebrate St Andrew’s Day with an
afternoon at the races. There are two
races, at 12.55pm and 3.35pm.
Winter Warmers – A Mini-Musical,
Cumbernauld Theatre,
December 8. A specially-created
show for the under-fives. Email
Cromarty Film Festival,
December 1-3. The 10th anniversary
of a festival which lets the audience
to get close up and personal with
Scottish and international film stars.
Christmas At The Basin, Montrose
Basin Visitor Centre, December 10.
Enjoy a hot drink and a mince pie
while you watch pink-footed geese
return to roost. Email
Pitlochry Christmas Tree Festival,
Pitlochry Church, December 2-3.
Two-day festival of Christmas trees,
featuring displays from local
businesses, voluntary organisations,
charities, groups, clubs and
Kinross-shire’s Winter Festival,
various venues, November 25.
A mix of family fun including pantos,
music, street market, carols, fairs and
other Christmas activities.
Cove And Kilcreggan Book Festival,
Helensburgh, November 25-26.
Headline authors at this year’s festival
include Ian Rankin and Jon Snow.
Galashiels Christmas Craft & Gift
Fair, November 25. Handmade gifts,
food, children’s activities, Christmas
card design competition, tombola
and Santa’s Grotto.
Dawn Flight, Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, December 3, 7am. Join
the wardens to experience the wonderful sight of wild geese flying
against the dawn sky. Bring warm, waterproof clothing, binoculars and
torch. Phone 01387 770200.
Richard Alston Dance Company,
Theatre Royal, November 23. Triple
bill of works from the acclaimed
dance company.
Alice In Weegieland, Tron Theatre,
starts December 1. Johnny
McKnight’s take on a classic Lewis
Carroll story, complete with Brexit,
Big Brother and Donald Trump
Dreamworks Animation In Concert,
SECC, December 2. Relive moments
from Shrek, Madagascar and more on
a big screen with live music from the
Royal Philharmonic Concert
Orchestra. dreamworks.seetickets.
Girls Day Out, SECC, December 1-3. With the best in fashion, beauty
and entertainment, not to mention food and drink, this is the ultimate
girls’ day out. Pre-booked tickets save 20%, with a free gift and two free
cocktails. VIP tickets costing £60 include a similar offer plus afternoon
tea courtesy of the chef at the Metropolitan – hand-made cakes, sweets
and sandwiches – all washed down with a glass of prosecco. Go on!
Treat your inner beauty queen with a host of gorgeous products, ranging
from skin care to hair care and fashion accessories all from top high
street brands.
Autumn Internationals, Murrayfield
Stadium, November 11, 18 & 25.
Rugby Union action as Scotland take
on Samoa, New Zealand and
Scots Fiddle Festival, Summerhall,
November 17-19. A fiddle-fuelled
weekend of talks, concerts,
workshops and ceilidhs. Email
Craft Beer Revolution Festival,
Assembly Roxy, November 23-25.
60 beers from all over Scotland will
be available, plus soft drinks for the
designated driver.
Clyde Life, Riverside Museum, ends
December 6. Nostalgic photography
display capturing the river’s everchanging landscape.
Home Nations Open Snooker,
Emirates Arena, December 11-17.
A series of matches involving 128
players from Scotland, England,
Wales and Northern Ireland.
Christmas At The Botanics, starts
November 24. Enjoy an after-dark
trail through the gardens which are
transformed into a spectacular light
show. A must for all the family.
Viennese Christmas By Candlelight,
St Giles Cathedral, December 1.
The London Concertante perform
music by Schubert, Strauss and
Chocolate And Wines For
Christmas Tasting, Scotch Malt
Whisky Society, December 12.
Learn from the experts, Nadia
Ellingham of Thinking Chocolate and
Master of Wine Rose Murray.
Hedda Gabler, His Majesty’s
Theatre, November 21-25. Ibsen’s
masterpiece comes to Aberdeen
following a sell-out run at the
National Theatre, London.
Scottish Kids Show, AECC, 25-26
November. A shopping extravaganza
with over 100 brands, with fantastic
family entertainment that includes live
A Winter Chorale, St Machar’s
Cathedral, December 7. Baroque,
Renaissance and contemporary
music from vocal group I Fagiolini.
Scottish Festival Of Brass, Concert
Hall, November 18 & 25-26. More
than 1000 brass players, both youth
and senior, from Scotland and
beyond take to the stage. An event
presented by the Scottish Brass
Band Association.
Aladdin, Perth Theatre, starts
December 9. Perth’s traditional
Panto is back home in the recentlyrefurbished theatre. It’s a must for
every family. Box office 01738
Next Month…
Glasgow is the place
to be for great festive
fun this Christmas
My Mountain Life, Dundee Rep,
November 14. Climber Simon Yates
talks about a near-death experience
in Peru, plus other exciting exploits.
Phone 01382 223530.
Eric The Elf’s Chaotic Christmas,
Macrobert Arts Centre, November
28-December 24. Andy McGregor’s
fun-filled interactive Christmas treat.
Box office 01786 466666.
Scottish Dance Theatre – YAMA,
Dundee Rep, November 15.
Choreography by Damien Jalet,
inspired by mountain mythology.
Box office 01382 223530.
A Very Victorian Christmas, Stirling
Castle, December 3. Find out from
where Charles Dickens got the idea
for A Christmas Carol.
Eight artefacts to blow
your mind in Dundee’s
McManus Gallery...
Highland And Moray Food & Drink
Festival, Eden Court, November 25.
Sample – or take home – the best of
local produce, supplied by up to 50
exhibitors. Phone 01463 234234.
Mountain Festival, University of
Dundee, November 23-25. An
international programme of speakers,
award-winning films and exhibitions.
Snow White, Eden Court, starts
December 5. Traditional family
panto, with dastardly villain,
charming prince and hapless comic.
Box office 01463 234234.
TV geologist Professor
Iain Stewart is a proper
Scottish rock star!
ON SALE Nov 16, 2017
Grease, His Majesty’s Theatre,
November 13-18. Stage version of
the hit musical. Full of memorable
songs like Summer Nights. Box office
01224 641122.
The Russian Revolution stirred a
strong desire for change in Scotland
– in Red Clydeside in particular
HE Bolshevik Revolution in October, 1917 was
described by John Reed, the American author who
lived through it, as “10 days that shook the world”
– and reverberations were certainly felt in Scotland.
Lloyd George, then Prime Minister, recounted that the
“Russian Revolution lit up the skies with a lurid flash of
hope for all who were dissatisfied with the existing order
of things.” In Glasgow, then the second city of the British
Empire, poverty and inequality were rampant and
militancy was growing with industrial disputes and rent
strikes. It sparked a desire for radical change for many.
Demonstrations in support of the Revolution saw the
Red Flag hoisted in George Square. The Bloody Friday riot
saw troops and even tanks despatched to the city, events
Leaflets from 1919
Police officers return
from a baton charge
in North Frederick
Street during the
1919 general strike
that were termed a “Scottish Bolshevik Revolution” by the
Secretary of State for Scotland.
Clydeside was developing a red reputation even before
the events in Russia. A strike at Singers sewing machine
factory in Clydebank in 1911 failed, but it inspired others
and union membership boomed. Arthur McManus, the
strike leader, would become chairman of the Communist
Party of Great Britain when it was formed in 1920.
When the First World War broke out, most people in
Glasgow supported or accepted it with 200,000 serving
and almost 18,000 making the ultimate sacrifice. However
a significant minority, through political or religious
convictions, continued to oppose it – even facing jail.
Militancy grew as the shop steward’s movement was
forged into the Clyde Workers Committee (CWC). Rent
strikes saw women come to the fore in defending their
homes and communities from evictions.
The February Revolution in 1917 overthrew Russia’s
Tsar, worrying the establishment here as much as it
excited radicals. May Day celebrations that year were the
biggest yet held. The Socialist paper The Call stated that
“the influence of the Revolution in Russia was
everywhere manifest.”
A meeting the following week saw Miner’s Federation
leader Bob Smillie, George Lansbury from the Labour
Party, Helen Crawford from the Women’s Peace Union
and others speak out in support of the revolution. Huge
demonstrations also took place, backing the revolution
and protesting about a range of other issues, whether
opposing Lloyd Georg e or calling for the release of
imprisoned socialist leader John McLean.
News of the Bolshevik Revolution in October was
more restricted due to the wartime censorship that
applied and the ever-increasing concern of the war ��
The Red Flag
was hoisted in
George Square
Tanks in the cattle
market, 1919
Troops were despatched from elsewhere in
Scotland and tanks sent from England
cabinet. However, information still filtered through. In
e arly 1918 the CWC came out against the war, worrie d
conscription would be further extended. The May Day
de monstration of 1918 took place for the first time on the
actual weekday, not the nearest Sunday. Despite wartime
restrictions and no paid leave, tens of thousands took part.
As the Herald reported, the Red Flag predominated and
at a gathering on Glasgow Green, a resolution was passed
in support of the overthrow of the capitalist system. Some
marched to Duke Street Prison where McLean was held.
The revolutionary atmosphere continued despite the
Armistice in November that brought an end to the war.
January 1919 saw a few momentous weeks for Glasgow.
The Red Army was advancing in Poland and Estonia.
British and other western forces were fighting elsewhere in
Russia in support of the Whites to defeat the Bolsheviks.
The khaki election in December 1918 saw wartime
coalition candidates win in all Glasgow seats bar Govan,
where the Independent Labour Party was successful. Even
John McLean, released weeks before and running for the
Labour Party, was defeated by a Coalition Labour
candidate in the Gorbals. Ye t the radical fire still burne d.
In Ireland, Sinn Fein had been successful in the fallout
from the 1916 Easter Rising. Links with Ireland were
substantial, with emigration and James Connolly having
been secretary of the Scottish Socialist Federation before
his return to Ireland. Though peace was welcomed, as
demobilisation beckoned, two and a half million men
we re to be re turne d to civilian life and the spe ctre of
worklessness and hunger haunted many. Demands were
made for a reduced working week to offset it.
Negotiations between union leaders and employers’
federations were intense.
On the Clyde, shop stewards sought a 40-hour week.
On January 27, 1919, a strike began that soon had
thousands out, as mass picketing went from site to site. At
demonstrations in George Square, the Red Flag was even
once hoiste d outside the City Chambe rs.
By January 31 the strike was spreading. In George
Square, police and horses awaited demonstrators. A riot
broke out and spread down to Glasgow Green, with the
Riot Act read and strike leaders struck down and arrested.
Troops were despatched from elsewhere in Scotland and
tanks brought from England. Glaswegian troops were
confined to barracks in Maryhill and throughout the
country lest they refuse to act against their kinsfolk.
Soldiers remained in the city for days with machine
gun nests and even howitzers on the City Chambers.
Strike leaders were arrested and the dispute petered out.
However, Red Clydeside was born and coming years
saw key activists elected to Parliament, including Willie
Gallacher as Communist MP for West Fife. A Scottish
Bolshevik Revolution indeed.
NEXT month, former Justice Minister
Kenny MacAskill brings you another
fascinating tale of the Scottish
diaspora – this time stories of Scots
and the US Civil War.
A Pioneer
Of Pictures
We look back at the wonderful
work of pioneering photographer
Robert Moyes Adam
Characters from a vanished way of life.
Above: Ploughing on Uig
Below: A ghillie on the Caithness moors
T The Scots Magazine, we pride ourselves on
showcasing the beauty of Scotland through the
best photography available to us – and a glance
into the archives confirms that this has been a
long-held tradition.
November marks the 50th anniversary of the death of
one of our most prolific photography contributors of the
20th century. Robert Moyes Adam, born 1885 in
Edinburgh, made it his mission to make a photographic
record of the wildlife and topography of Scotland, a
mission that he pursued with single-minded purpose
until his death in 1967.
What made Adam stand out among his peers was the
sheer depth to his beautifully-composed landscape
images, which you can see here. He used a quarter-plate
camera, bought in 1899, before graduating onto a
half-plate – both of which needed a stand and glass
plates, making the uphill trek to his favourite viewpoints
an arduous task. ��
From stunning
landscapes on
�� cityscapes of
Perth’s High Street
Up close with a heron
Adam is most famous for his
photographs of the last inhabitants
of Mingulay – above and below
Top left: Kittiwakes on Berneray
Above: Celtic Cross and the Sound of Mull
Below: ploughed field on Sanday
Right: The view to Barcval
and Trallval on Rum
This was pre-war
and Adam
excelled in it
Above: Loch Linnhe beyond Fort William
Below: Loch Leven and North Ballachulish
After taking a photograph Adam developed the plates
slowly – painstakingly and meticulously introducing
graduations of shadow, delicately altering the sky to
make the landscape stand out with unmistakable
clarity. This was pre-war photoshop, and a subject in
which Adam excelled.
The photographs that drew our former editors to
Adam’s work, however, were his series of portraits
capturing a vanishing way of life. His first photo-feature
for us was in 1943 on the old ways of the Hebrides.
Adam visited Mingulay in 1905 to photograph the
way of life, but by the time he returned in 1922 the
island had been evacuated, the village a heap of stones.
From dramatic landscape to emotive portraits to
focused documentation of Scotland’s flora and fauna,
Robert M Adam was ahead of his time and a
photographer we were privileged to take to print.
A former editor of The Scots Magazine, Robert Daw,
said in his tribute to Adam in 1968, “His photographic
contribution to our knowledge and understanding of
Scotland has never been equalled.”
We were also privileged to inherit a tangible
collection of his life’s work just before his death – some
14,000 glass negatives, which DC Thomson donated to
St Andrews University for public record.
You can view these online for free at
You can see an extended gallery of Adam’s work, plus
the above tribute in full on our website at
Devorgilla’s Bridge, Dumfries
Keep cosy this Winter
Visit: or call: 01886 853 615
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Celebrate the Best of Scotland
Visit: or call: 01968 660 078
BESPOKE. We now make our Ailsa and Ettrick Totes, our Orkney and Skye
Satchels and Strathearn Saddle Bag to order. Choose any tartan and for just a
£10 supplement, Dunmore Scotland will make a unique bag for you (subject to
Bespoke bags take 4-6 weeks to be handmade. The last order date for Christmas
is 1st November 2017. For more details and to discuss your order contact us on
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Something to give… Something to own… Timeless.
Call: 07710 427650 E-mail:
A distinctive decorative hardwood box designed and made
with care by Digby Morrow in his workshop near Linlithgow.
Digby works to very fine tolerances with a special interest in
fine inlay work and distinctive hand-rubbed finishes. Inlays
of maps, birds, insects, pets, flora
& fauna etc – all highly individual.
Wide range of box types including
jewellery, memory, special occasion,
keepsake, cigar humidors. Contact
Digby if you are looking for that
special gift.
To advertise or for more information, call Risha Shah on 0207 400 1043 or email
Test your knowledge
of Scotland with our
fascinating and
fun facts!
According to old Scottish folklore, it’s bad luck
to see a pig on your way to your wedding. It’s
also deemed unlucky to take one on a fishing
boat. Though why you’d take a pig on a fishing
boat is anyone’s guess!
In Sweden, Highland cattle are the only breed
permitted by law to winter outside.
In Scottish superstition, three swans flying together warn
of a national disaster.
The Scots Canary – or
Yellowhammer – has another
more sinister title. It used to be
known as the Devil Bird.
The bird’s tongue was supposed
to bear a drop of Satan’s
blood, and the intricate pattern
on its eggs was said to carry a
concealed, evil message.
34 bottles
of whisky
are shipped
King James IV practised
dentistry and even charged
customers for work carried out.
Wonder if any of them ever
needed a crown?
Celtic FC published the
world’s first-ever
football newspaper.
The Celtic View
has been going
strong since
The model who appears on cans of
Sweetheart Stout is Gun ‘n’ Roses rocker,
Axl Rose’s former mother-in-law! Venetia
Stevenson’s iconic image has appeared
on the cans since 1958.
The Wind In The Willows author,
Scotsman Kenneth Grahame, only
began writing after he’d been
shot at three times in the bank
where he worked.
Blood-thirsty Bambis live on
Rum! The island’s red deer
population often dine on baby
seabirds – particularly Manx
Shearwater chicks. It’s believed
this highly unusual diet stems
from vitamin deficiencies in the
island’s vegetation. The deer get
extra calcium by eating the birds.
Scotland’s first recorded use
of fireworks was in 1507
at a tournament at Edinburgh
The Star Hotel Moffat is the
narrowest hotel in the world.
The Queen Mother enjoyed impersonating foghorns. The Royal
Yacht Britannia sailed to Scrabster each summer so that the Royal Family
could visit her at the Castle of Mey. When Britannia came into harbour,
foghorns would sound and the Queen Mother liked to imitate them.
Only the Olympics and the
World Cup sell more tickets
than the Edinburgh Festival
In the 1980s, Prime Minister, Margaret
Thatcher, considered making the Loch
Ness Monster a protected species.
Scottish brides used to throw their left
stockings over their shoulders instead of
bouquets. Probably a little less
sweet-smelling than the
blooms, the basic idea was
the same – whoever
caught it would
be next to marry.
Bagpipes are the only
musical instrument
deemed a weapon
of war.
For more stunning Scots facts visit our
It was built in the 1700s at a time
when taxes were based on street
frontage size. It explains the
construction of a building that’s
only 6m (20ft) wide but 49m
(162ft) long and five storeys high.
St Andrew’s Day Events
We bring you a round-up of the best
celebrations on our national holiday…
OVEMBER 30 is St Andrew’s Day in honour of
Scotland’s patron saint, and what better excuse to
showcase the very best of our culture?
The national holiday sees ceilidhs, festivals, markets,
re-enactments, parades and even an illumination trail or
two light up the November evenings.
One of our favourite events is Irvine Harbour’s Festival
of Light (pictured) which will illuminate the historic
waterfront in North Ayrsh ire with a lantern parade,
acrobatic shows, fireworks and an illumi bike ride!
From Savour St Andrews food festival in the run-up to
the holiday, to the winter festivals that follow, you’ll find
something for everyone on our list of top celebrations,
with links and ticket info too.
Check out for the full line-up of top events.
More from our online pages…
Opera Highlights
The cast and crew of Scottish
Opera’s latest tour are writing
backstage blogs for us from their
tour bus as they take Opera
Highlights on the road!
Take A Hike…
Check out our hike report and
gallery of contributors’ photos from
a great day up Ben Vrackie with the
Scots Mag Hiking Club.
Hallowe’en at Mary King’s Close
The famous 17th-century close off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has a new tale
to tell. We went behind the scenes to speak to Condemned tour creator,
Keith Baxter, on the real-life history behind the ghost stories…
Follow us…
The Scots Magazine
Catch new travel blogs every
fortnight from David Weinczok, aka
The Castle Hunter, and Travel With
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