This Issue marks the arrival of springtime with a focus on nature and the great Scottish outdoors. Featuring wildlife and walking routes in the Highlands, Hebridean islands and elsewhere, you can also explore Scotland's lost gardens and the influence of nature on Scottish storytelling. To quote Margaret Atwood 'in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt', so if you venture out inspired by what you've read here perhaps you'll return home smelling of soil with a snowdrop or two in your pocket...

Legendary climber and award-winning author Hamish Brown reflects on his childhood explorations including a pilgrimage to ‘Snowdrop Valley’  – ‘a very special secret place’ – where the delicate bloom of the pale flowers marked the beginning of spring in the Ochils.

Extract from Walking The Song By Hamish Brown Published by Sandstone Press

The Lure of Snowdrops

My home territory as a boy was the Ochils and the whole landscape enclosed by the encircling River Devon – an anglicisation of what Burns should have called Dowan in one of his poems. Its course in the hills has improved with the maturing of reservoirs and woodlands. The ‘crook’ in the river is a classic example of ‘river capture’ as, originally, it flowed into Loch Leven. Below the gorge with the bridge on top of bridge it pours over the Cauldron Linn. One of the area’s Victorian country mansions tapped this force to make its own electricity, an energy source which has been recreated today. My western bounds of the Devon were really the Dead Waters: fields which were flooded in winter from the river to allow skating. In my youth the school had official half-holidays for when conditions were right and town and gown would flock to the site to enjoy the ‘Skating Halves’. This is a forgotten joy today, such freezing a thing of the past. (Climate change? Global warming?)

One of my lifetime hobbies of ‘rescuing’ trees began on the River Devon. A riverbank rowan had seeded onto a mossy rock and grown into a fine small tree but its weight then toppled it from its scant hold on the rock and the victim lay thrashing in the flow, only ...


This month David Robinson examines acclaimed poet Polly Clark’s debut novel Larchfield. The dual narrative follows W H Auden and Dora Fielding who arrive in Helensburgh decades apart, but are united in their struggle to assimilate within the quietly sinister echelons of polite society. A gripping and ambitious take on the interplay between isolation, creativity, and self-destruction, David also finds Larchfield valuable in highlighting a lesser-known period in W H Auden’s life.

David Robinson Reviews: Larchfield By Polly Clark Published by riverrun

I saw Auden once. He had only months to live and was sitting in an Oxford café looking out of the window with a bored expression; I was on my way to an interview at a college around the corner, an 18-year-old bundle of nerves and expectations. That’s all it wa...



Gods Of The Morning: Highland Wildlife click

Gods Of The Morning: Highland Wildlife

‘The woods suddenly resound with rasping, sawing, trilling song’


Writing Nature Through Verse by Louise Greig click

Writing Nature Through Verse by Louise Greig

‘The wild beauty of the Hebridean island and the incongruous arrival of the gentle bear seemed to ask for the story to be written’


Scotland’s Lost Gardens click

Scotland’s Lost Gardens

‘The garden and its companion, the designed landscape, are important elements in the cultural history of Scotland’


Sreathan anns a’ Ghainmhich click

Sreathan anns a’ Ghainmhich

‘Siud mar chuir mi ’n geamhradh tharam / Ann an Tiriodh ’s stoirm gach latha’


Exploring The Whangie’s Wildlife click

Exploring The Whangie’s Wildlife

‘Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy being close to nature’


Nature, Naturally by Jenni Daiches click

Nature, Naturally by Jenni Daiches

‘The changing seasons are part of the rhythm of the narrative’


Golden Eagle Spotting With Dave Walker click

Golden Eagle Spotting With Dave Walker

‘Contrary to popular belief, the golden eagle is not a predator, but a hunter-gatherer’


Growing Up On A Highland Farm click

Growing Up On A Highland Farm

‘Spring should be well on its way but winter’s returned, sending a wind with icicles in its breath to bother the barn’s roof slates’