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Issue 67 - Into the wild

Scotland Magazine Issue 67
February 2013


This article is 5 years old and some information provided may be time sensitive. Please check all details of events, tours, opening times and other information before travelling or making arrangements.

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Into the wild

Rob Allanson on the Year of Natural Scotland

Interesting things are afoot to promote Scotland this year as the prime tourist destination it should be. Visit Scotland, the country's tourism organisation, is focusing on one of Scotland's assets close to my heart: the great outdoors and natural beauty.

The Year of Natural Scotland 2013, the third of four focus years, is a chance to highlight Scotland's great offering from mountains to lochs, forests to food sources.

The aim is to promote Scotland’s stunning natural beauty and biodiversity, and promote ways in which visitors can enjoy the beautiful landscapes, wildlife and heritage responsibly.

One of the great things this campaign should do is to get people thinking outside of the usual destination of Edinburgh and Glasgow. While they have their charms you really should discover the Islands, Highlands and Lowlands, the open rugged spaces where you can walk for hours in solitude; the ancient places that connect you with the heart of Scotland's history.

Part of the appeal of being out on the hills in Scotland lies in the diversity of the seasons, the changes in the light and the interaction with the landscape this brings; often fleeting and visceral.

One thing I particularly love is walking during the turn of seasons, especially from winter into spring. The way the stark black branches of trees outline the sky if you are walking in the woods. If you get one of those days with a hard bleak cloudscape they really stand out offering a sense of drama and especially if you are walking, a feeling of vulnerability but at the same time a twinge of excitement of the things to come.

One thing that appears to be missing from this year of focus is sound, when you are out walking, either in the city or the countryside, the noises you hear help form part of the experience.

From the low hum of a city in the early hours of the morning to the explosion of bird song at dawn and twilight, from the gentle sound of waves on a loch's shore to the creak of crows on the hill; sound is a big part of the natural experience.

One sound I will never forget is walking up Ben Nevis a few years ago and listening to the buzzards. I think these sounds stir something deep in us, a feeling that has been lost to the modern pressures of life, a sense of the primeval, that link with our ancestors. The same feelings you get walking the ancient places of Scotland.

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