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    Discover Scottish Landscapes and Wildlife with Nature Lovers…

     

    The Scots Magazine January 2012

    The Scots Magazine January 2012

    Hi everybody,

    I’m always looking forward to receiving The Scots Magazine. Its covers are generally gorgeous and its wee size allows me to take it with me in the tram. Indeed, so deeply immersed I often get in my reading that I soon forget where I’m going to… last time I missed two stations 😉

    What I like most in this magazine are the articles devoted to Scottish landscapes and wildlife. No risk for their authors to suffer from white page syndrome for Scotland is a paradise for lovers of Nature. There is a good audience too for everybody seems to be in love with Nature there. I’ve selected two articles in the last issue of the magazine (January 2012).

    The  first article, “Jay is for January”  was written by Jim Crumley, one of the best nature writers in the UK and as the title indicates it should appeal to birdwatchers.

    This well-known nature writer regularly writes in The Scots Magazine and he is the author of about 20 books, mainly about Scottish landscapes and wildlife.

    Jim Crumley’s very lively style, full of humour and poetry, is irresistible.  His  article begins like that : 

    “One of those half-dark-at-noon January days moved sluggishly through the afternoon, fuelled by that lethargic species of rain that makes almost no sound but has the capacity to saturate in minutes everything and everyone in its path. It was falling when I was having breakfast, mid-morning coffee, lunch and mid-afternoon-coffee (long sessions at the writing desk are punctuated with excuses for getting up and crossing the room to the kettle), but just when I was thinking I needed the full-blown exercise of going downstairs to the bar where I might have the day’s first conversation with another human being, I glanced out of the window and saw pale light. The rain had stopped and the last hour before dusk promised to be the brightest – or rather the least dark – of the day, so I postponed the pleasures of the bar, stepped into wellies, grabbed a jacket and binoculars, and went out into the sodden world.

    It was good to be out, but there was an unease about the forest in such a mood, and it communicated itself effortlessly into the mind of a solitary walker. Then the forest screamed.” (…)

    “The forest screamed”!  What an image!

    Now, don’t you feel like following the “solitary walker” in the woods? I do. 😉

    The covers and titles of Jim Crumley’s books are very inspiring… Something Out ThereThe Winter Whale, The Last WolfDays with the Golden Eagle The Great Wood, The Isle of Skye

    A deep sense of place, a poetic approach of nature with a touch of mystery… I like that and I’ve just ordered three of Jim Crumley’s books. I will tell you more about these books as soon as I have read them. The Great Wood, with its beautiful engraving-style cover, is Jim’s Crumley last published book. Yes, there must be  “Something Out There” !!!

    Jim Crumley Something Out There Whittles Publishing 2002.

    Jim Crumley Something Out There Whittles Publishing 2002.

    ‘Like many a Highland glen, the Fathan Ghlinne should be wooded but isn’t. But I have sat long and often and listened to the ancient river speech, to the windsong of three birches and a rowan, the rowan above a meeting of waterfalls which should be a portentous place. And the word on the wind and in the speech of the river is that the trees and wolves and the people will be back.’ Thus Jim Crumley concludes this remarkable book of nature writing. The setting is largely Highland Perthshire (there are startling asides to Mull and Alaska), the author’s home for several years, and where, having ‘chased a rainbow’ that faded early he stayed on and put down a root that nourished his nature writer’s instincts. Something Out There is Jim Crumley’s account of his quest to rediscover something of the ancient bond between man and nature. It is told in prose that is three-quarters of the way to poetry, and in the process gives the art of nature writing a bold new standard bearer for the 21st century.

     

    Jim Crumley The Last Wolf Birlinn August 2010

    Jim Crumley The Last Wolf Birlinn August 2010

    In The Last Wolf, Jim Crumley explores the place of the wolf in Scotland – past, present and future – and challenges many of the myths that have been regarded for centuries as biological fact. Bringing to bear a lifetime’s immersion in his native landscape and more than twenty years as a professional nature writer, Crumley questions much of the written evidence on the plight of the wolf in light of contemporary knowledge and considers the wolf in today’s world, an examination that ranges from Highland Scotland to Devon and from Yellowstone in North America to Norway and Italy, as he pursues a more considered portrait of the animal than the history books have previously offered. Within the narrative, Crumley also examines the extraordinary phenomenon of wolf reintroductions physically transforming the landscapes in which they live that even the very colours of the land change under the influence of teeming grasses, flowers, trees, butterflies, birds, and mammals that flourish in their company, Crumley makes the case for their reintroduction into Scotland with all the passion and poetic fervour that has become the hallmark of his writing over the years. This is an elegant, erudite and imaginative account that readdresses the place of the wolf in modern Scotland.

     

    The Great Wood Jim Crumley Birlinn September 2011

    The Great Wood Jim Crumley Birlinn September 2011

    The Great Wood of Caledon – the historic native forest of Highland Scotland – has a reputation as potent and misleading as the wolves that ruled it. The popular image is of an impassable, sun-snuffing shroud, a Highlandswide jungle infested by wolf, lynx, bear, beaver, wild white cattle, wild boar, and wilder painted men. Jim Crumley shines a light into the darker corners of the Great Wood, to re-evaluate some of the questionable elements of its reputation, and to assess the possibilities of its partial resurrection into something like a national forest. The book threads a path among relict strongholds of native woodland, beginning with a soliloquy by the Fortingall Yew, the one tree in Scotland that can say of the hey-day of the Great Wood 5,000 years ago: ‘I was there.’ The journey is enriched by vivid wildlife encounters, a passionate and poetic account that binds the slow dereliction of the past to an optimistic future.

    I invite you to read the Australian reader’s comment of the book on Amazon, and his page of comments too 😉

     

     

    The Isle of Skye Text by Jim Crumley Photograpy by Colin Baxter 1st edited by Colin Baxter in 2005

    The Isle of Skye Text by Jim Crumley Photograpy by Colin Baxter 1st edited by Colin Baxter in 2005

    The Isle of Skye off Scotland’s West Highland seaboard, is renowned for the dramatic beauty of its landscape, and as the setting for some of the darkest moments to Scottish history. Today the island is buoyant again, and new generations of islanders and visitors fall uner the spell of its quicksilver light, its quick-change weather, and at the heart of it all, the ancient lure of the Cuillin Hills.
    I’ve read The Isle of Skye  before going back there in 2007. It’s a little gem! Added to the stunning photographs taken by Colin Baxter, it contains  a detailed chronology and a very useful relief map of the island* with its main points of interest.

    Cameron McNeish Gore -Tex Experience Tour Source: Mountain Equipment

    Cameron McNeish Gore -Tex Experience Tour Source: Mountain Equipment

     

    The second article I’ve chosen in The Scots Magazine was written by Cameron McNeish and is entitled “Westward Ho” ! The mythical West call! The stunning landscapes of the western coast of Scotland are worth the effort of a 10-day walk especially when the walker can admire them from the heights of a Munro!

    I turned away from the waves and faced west, my direction of travel for the next 10 days or so. Celtic traditions have it that in the far West, off the edges of all maps, lay the Otherworld, or Afterlife. (…)

    I’d walked coast-to-coast across Scotland before, but the other way, from west to east, a direction that seemed to go against all my natural inclinations. (…)

    (…) I was making a television programme for BBC Scotland, a coast-to-coast walk which I hoped would showcase the diversity of landscapes that we have here in Scotland and you probably couldn’t get more diverse sights than the beach at Aberdeen and my ultimate destination, the rugged hills of Knoydart.

     

    Cameron McNeish is a wilderness hiker, backpacker and mountain walker, author and broadcaster. His programme “Coast to Coast” was diffused on 27 December 2011. I’d like to have stamina enough to follow Cameron McNeish in one of his walks, along some of the most beautiful landscapes of Scotland. It must be very hard to the legs but good to the mind !

    The Skye Trail Cameron McNeish and Richard Else  Mountain Media 2010

    The Skye Trail Cameron McNeish and Richard Else Mountain Media 2010

    Of all Scotland’s islands none casts its spell quite as dramatically as the Isle of Skye. Celebrated in song and story, Eilean a’Cheo is a place of astonishing natural beauty and attracts climbers and walkers from all over the world. The 70-mile long Skye Trail connects two of the island’s most extraordinary landscapes; the world-famous Cuillin, the most rugged mountain range in Britain, and the Trotternish ridge, a rolling escarpment of basalt hills that look over the sea to the tumbled landscapes of mainland Scotland. This long walk through the island, the ‘Skitis’ of the Celtic world, follows ancient byways, cattle drovers’ routes, mountain footpaths and an old railway line, through a land where the first inhabitants sensed the presence of their gods in every nook and cranny, on every hill and crag, in every corrie and loch. Landscape and weather and an affinity with wild nature made up the very fabric of their lives. The route visits castles, takes in geological gems like the Quiraing and the Storr, follows rivers and loch-side paths and recalls those who were brutally removed from their homes during the Highland Clearances. It visits the site of the ‘last battle on British soil’ and climbs Bla Bheinn, surely the finest mountain on this island of fine mountains. The route then takes its finale along the old Marble Line to Broadford, and the end of a magnificent island journey. The Skye Trail is destined to be one of the most popular long distance walks in Britain. Adopted by the Highland Council as an official long distance walk, it was brought to life by BBC Scotland’s often repeated “Skye Trail” presented by Cameron McNeish. This illustrated book is based on the broadcast and Cameron’s experiences of the trail, the island, its people and its history and environment.

     

    The Munros Scotland's Highest Mountains Cameron McNeish Lomond 1996

    We have this book on our shelves… not that we intend to climb the Scottish Munros but why not dream of trying one or two little ones some day?

    To give some more breadth to this article just have a look at  some videos made by Cameron McNeish. They will show you Scotland as you’ll probably never see it !

    I hope you’ve enjoyed  these few moments  in company of Jim Crumley and Cameron McNeish. What a better  way to discover Scottish landscapes and wildlife than to listen to such  great Nature lovers !

    A bientôt. Mairiuna

    * no longer an island for some people the opening of the Skye  bridge in 1995. The toll was abolished in 2004.

     

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