The Spring Issue
Books to inspire outdoor exploration
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...
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 ...
David Robinson Reviews: Larchfield by Polly Clark
'We follow W H Auden into Helensburgh polite society'
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...
‘The woods suddenly resound with rasping, sawing, trilling song’
‘The wild beauty of the Hebridean island and the incongruous arrival of the gentle bear seemed to ask for the story to be written’
‘The garden and its companion, the designed landscape, are important elements in the cultural history of Scotland’
‘Siud mar chuir mi ’n geamhradh tharam / Ann an Tiriodh ’s stoirm gach latha’
‘Spring is a great time to get outside and enjoy being close to nature’
‘The changing seasons are part of the rhythm of the narrative’
‘Contrary to popular belief, the golden eagle is not a predator, but a hunter-gatherer’
‘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’