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Issue 88 - Scotland's National Treasures

Scotland Magazine Issue 88
August 2016

 

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Scotland's National Treasures

Christopher Coates on Scotland's precious national parks

In the previous edition of Scotland Magazine, my colleague Roddy Martine wrote about the esteemed John Muir, a man who is often referred to as ‘the father of the USA’s national parks.’ As I’d previously had only a rudimentary knowledge of Mr Muir and his work, Roddy’s piece prompted me to learn more about the conservation movement, the establishment of Scotland’s national parks and the role they play in Scottish life today.

For our international readers – especially those of you who hail from the USA, where national parks have been established in some form or another since 1872 – it may come as a surprise that ours were only established recently. In fact, the National Parks (Scotland) Act 2000 was one of the earlier pieces of legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament after its creation in 1999. First came the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, in 2002, which was followed swiftly in 2003 by the Cairngorms National Park. Other than their relative youth, there are a couple of other key differences between Scotland’s national parks and those found abroad. Firstly, the parks are not, by and large, owned by the Government and many people live, work and own property within their boundaries. Secondly, although there are some protections in place, there are in fact open mines, active forestry operations and considerable amounts of farming within the boundaries of Scotland’s national parks.

My musings also fortuitously coincided with a recent day trip to the picturesque Falls of Leny, in the Trossachs, that are the result of the Garbh Uisge’s turbulent passage across the great geological scar that is the Highland Boundary Fault. The falls themselves lay a gentle walk away from the holiday town of Callander, past the remains of a Roman fort, and are well worth a visit (see: The Big Picture, page 3). An easy travelling distance from Stirling, the Trossachs seemed a natural addition to the regional focus for this issue. As always, our resident travel expert Charles Douglas has provided a fantastic summary of this region’s history and points of interest.

Meanwhile, Keith Fergus has explored the route of the restless River Spey, which flows through the Cairngorms National Park, and has documented the fascinating history and natural beauty that can be found on its banks. James Irvine Robertson brings us the tale of Edward II’s failed 1314 campaign and the history of Clan Dunbar, while Alasdair Hutton has penned a piece on the link between the new Borders Railway and literary legend Sir Walter Scott.

Finally, I would like to congratulate veteran contributor John Hannavy as this issue includes his 100th published feature in
Scotland Magazine. Turn to page 34 for a delightful exploration of Scotland’s locomotive industry, which I am very sure you shall enjoy.