walkhighlands





A Tale of Two Canals

If I set you the challenge of walking or cycling between Edinburgh and Glasgow, how much poring over maps would you do to find the best route? You’d want it to be as pleasant as possible of course, so you’d probably want to avoid roads, avoid complicated navigation problems and, assuming that you ARE off-road, be as certain as you can be that the paths would be in reasonable condition. You’ll probably lose a few weeks of your life pondering this one so let me save you the bother by asking…..would it occur to you to simply use the canals?

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Posted in Magazine

The thunderstorm, the flood and the landslide

Generally speaking, we in Scotland live in a quiet corner of the world. Our volcanoes are long extinct and there’s not been a major landscaping event since the glacial ice retreated. Sure, the earth shakes from time to time, and the turbulent atmosphere occasionally rattles our homes, but for the most part we live on pretty solid ground. We can therefore be forgiven for looking at our landscapes with a comforting sense of permanence. This is how it has always been, and this is how it will always be. Scotland is timeless. Scotland is forever. It’s an illusion of course,

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Posted in Features, Magazine, Nature

I finally bought my own trail camera!

I’m a bit excited when I check my new trail camera for the first time. It’s that same feeling I remember so vividly from Christmas Day in the 1980s – when you finally got to see just how amazing that new toy you’d been craving from the Argos catalogue for the past year actually was. What hidden garden wonders will be revealed? What new creatures will be discovered? Oh the anticipation! I walk up to it, open the housing, and the display inside reads 4/455. YES! Four new files have been created. Four 20-second snippets of an animal moving in

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Posted in Features, Magazine, Nature, Photography

Following Footprints

Ben Dolphin gains a glimpse into hidden lives through studying the trails and tracks left in the snow. I spend a disproportionately huge amount of time staring out the kitchen window. Partly because, like everyone else, I’m spending a lot of time at home just now and I can’t help myself. And partly because there’s always the chance that something of interest will come ambling through the garden while I’m watching. But in recent weeks I’ve seen very little. The snow and cold have driven migratory species off the hill, snooze-prone species into slumber, and the remainder into networks of

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Posted in Features, Magazine, Nature

Cause & effect – five walks that changed my life

Many of us who love the hills and wild places are finding solace or keeping sane at the moment by reflecting on our most treasured outdoors memories. Here Ben Dolphin reflects on five walks that changed the course of his life. Every walk you take contributes to your knowledge and experience, whether you’re aware of it or not. Most of the time the learning is subtle but it’s there nonetheless, happening quietly in the background. But there are also walks that go way beyond mere enrichment of your walking experience and, although it might not be apparent at the time,

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Posted in Features, Magazine

What does a ranger actually do?

I’m currently in my seventh ranger season. I say ‘season’ because I’m a seasonal ranger. We get employed during the busier, warmer months when more folk are flocking to the great outdoors, whether that’s urban green spaces, Country Parks, or the wider countryside. And across those seven seasons the question I’ve probably been asked most is….what does a ranger actually do? Well, let’s set the context first. Countryside rangers have been around for 50 years in Scotland, the first having assumed their post in 1969. The impetus for this landmark event was the expansion of leisure time in the 1960s

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Posted in Access issues, Features, Magazine, Nature

Can I take it home? Nature’s collectibles and the law

In my last column I wrote about my innate urge to collect natural objects and my growing unease with how that hobby sits within the whole ‘leave no trace’ ethos. The question I considered was an ethical ‘should I?’, but in this column I’m considering a different question – a very matter-of-fact ‘can I?’ Collecting natural ‘stuff’ and even taking photos might seem the most inconsequential of pursuits, but it isn’t as straight-forward as you might think. Some things might need landowner permission before you remove them. Other things are generally okay to take but only if you are sparing

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Posted in Features, Magazine

Nature: Take it or leave it?

I come from a family of hoarders, and much of my childhood was spent slavishly furthering that great tradition – toy buses, coins, Dandy comics, badges, postcards, stamps, those utterly useless wee sheathed pens you used to get at every visitor attraction across the land, and much more besides. Thankfully, unless you count Munro-bagging as collecting (it’s difficult to take a mountain home thank goodness!), my urge to collect dissipated into my teenage years and I naively assumed my collecting days were long behind me. But 30 years later, when I clean the inside of my car before taking it

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Posted in Features, Magazine

‘Insect apocalypse’: my waking nightmare

Like anyone with more than a passing interest in the environment I keep a keen eye on the latest headlines from the natural world. There’s plenty of good news to celebrate…

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Posted in Features, Magazine, Nature

Blooming snowdrops!

I personally know a great many people for whom a carpet of snowdrops is the only white carpet they want to see in January. Not me!

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Posted in Features, Magazine


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Walking can be dangerous and is done entirely at your own risk. Information is provided free of charge; it is each walker's responsibility to check it and navigate using a map and compass.