Scots Roots


The Solway Firth

Solway Firth 1

Solway Firth 2The Svalbard Islands lie midway between Norway and the North Pole.

Every year, as winter approaches, 42,000 barnacle geese leave the islands to overwinter on the mudflats of the Solway Firth to the south west of Scotland. That’s a journey of around 2,000 miles.

Solway Firth 3The geese will roost on the mudflats at night for safety and during the day they graze in the surrounding fields. The Scottish Government compensates local farmers for their lost grazing, which is needed for sheep and cattle.

Thanks to the efforts of the WWT’s Caerlaverock Wetland Centre and the RSPB’s Mersehead Reserve, which each provide a managed and undisturbed refuge for the birds, these geese have recovered since the 1940s when only a few hundred remained.

Solway Firth 5

Solway Firth 4Around 4,000 whooper swans also spend the winter here having spent the summer breeding in Iceland. If you’re ever in the vicinity of whooper swans, you’ll soon realise how they got their name.

WWT: Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.

RSPB: Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Solway Firth 6

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Tantallon Castle
February 28, 2018, 5:02 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Tantallon Castle 1

Tantallon Castle 2One of my favourite castles, Tantallon is basically just a big wall across a rocky promontory at the top of a cliff. The main curtain wall is around 300 feet long, 49 feet high and 12 feet thick. The other three sides are naturally protected by sea cliffs although there once was a lower protective wall around the cliff edge too.

Tantallon Castle 3

Tantallon Castle 4

Built in the mid-1300s by William Douglas, a nephew of Sir James Douglas (who fought with Robert the Bruce), the castle endured several sieges through its long history. Its owners often clashed with the Crown and the castle was besieged by James IV in the 15th century, James V in the 16th century and was finally abandoned in the 17th century due to the destruction caused by Oliver Cromwell’s army.

Tantallon Castle 5

The castle can be found 2 miles east of North Berwick in East Lothian, overlooking the Bass Rock and the Firth of Forth. It is currently looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.

Tantallon Castle 6

Tantallon Castle 7



Postie’s Path, Isle of Harris
February 7, 2018, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: , , ,

Postie's Path 1

Postie's Path 2The road to Rhenigidale in North East Harris was only completed in 1989. Prior to 1989 this path was the only overland route to the remote village. Generations of postmen had to make this four mile trek three times a week to deliver the mail.

Postie's Path 3

Postie's Path 4

Postie's Path 5The path was upgraded from a rough track to an engineered track in 1912 but even so, it can’t have been easy to follow in poor weather. The path would also have been used each week by children attending the secondary school in Tarbert. The path has been restored recently for walkers to enjoy the historic route.

Postie's Path 6

Postie's-Path-7



Preston Mill, East Lothian

Preston Mill 1Although there has been a mill on this site since the 16th century, the current Preston Mill was built in the 18th century. It ceased production in 1959 but the machinery is still in working order.

Preston Mill 2This is a meal mill and produced oatmeal. The oats were dried in the kiln – the oddly shaped conical building – before entering the milling process.

Preston Mill 3The mill is currently owned by the National Trust for Scotland and, if you take a guided tour, you can see the machinery in action.

Preston Mill 4Followers of Outlander may recognise it as the mill on Jamie’s family estate where he was nearly captured by the Redcoats as he swam beneath the mill wheel, trying to repair it.

Preston Mill 5



Annet House Museum, Linlithgow
December 11, 2017, 4:20 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History, West Lothian | Tags: , ,

Annet House 1

Annet House 3The museum is based in a large Georgian town house on Linlithgow High Street with a huge garden to the rear. Annet House itself was built in 1787 for the Bartholomew family.

Linlithgow was the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, so it’s not surprising that she features strongly in the exhibits. There’s also a statue of her out in the garden.

Annet House 5Other exhibits tell the story of the town’s heritage featuring displays on linen, leatherworking, distilling and papermaking amongst others.

Annet House 2The garden at the back, known as the Rigg, would have been used to provide the family’s everyday requirements with areas for flowers, fruit, vegetables and herbs for medicine. Today’s garden has been set out much as it would have been in its heyday.

Annet House 4The museum is scheduled to move to larger premises in the newly-refurbished County Buildings in Linlithgow which sadly means the garden will be left behind.

Annet House 6



Holyrood Abbey, Edinburgh
November 20, 2017, 3:34 pm
Filed under: Photographs, Scottish History | Tags: ,

Holyrood Abbey 1Holyrood Abbey 2Looking like an extension built on to Holyrood Palace, the Abbey actually predates the Palace by several centuries. Founded by David I in 1128, the Abbey was first home to Augustinian Canons.

Holyrood Abbey 3Holyrood Abbey 4Due to its proximity to Edinburgh Castle, the Abbey was often used by Scottish monarchs as a residence more suited to comfort and privacy. It wasn’t until the 16th century that James IV decided to turn the Abbey chambers into a suitable palace.

Holyrood Abbey 5Holyrood Abbey 6The Abbey was sacked several times by English invasions over the centuries and the Protestant Reformation left much of it in ruins. Part of it was retained to serve as the parish church of Canongate but that came to an end in 1687 when the Catholic James VII and II evicted the Protestant congregation. The Abbey was ransacked a year later when James VII and II was deposed.

It has been a ruin ever since.

Holyrood Abbey 7



Ben Tianavaig
November 6, 2017, 2:45 pm
Filed under: Photographs | Tags: ,

Ben Tianavaig 5Overlooking the harbour at Portree on the Isle of Skye, Ben Tianavaig isn’t one of the island’s higher slopes but it is a nice little climb with spectacular views from the top.

Ben Tianavaig 2With Portree and the Cuillin ridge to one side and the Isle of Raasay and the mountains of Torridon on the other, you can sit here for ages just soaking up the sights. We’ve had lunch here looking down on a family of minke whales feeding in the Sound of Raasay below.

Ben Tianavaig 3

Ben Tianavaig 4At 413 metres high, it is a fairly straightforward climb, best tackled from the car park at Tianavaig Bay. In common with much of the landscape of the Isle of Skye, landslip has caused the collapse of the east side of the hill and sea eagles use the resultant cliff ledges to nest on.

Ben Tianavaig 1




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