Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The North Atlantic Rainforest

I was tickled by the term 'North Atlantic Rainforest' on reading it in a book of illustrations of Scottish forests years ago. It makes something damp and miserable sound exotic. And this weekend just gone was certainly wet, windy and miserable in the West Highlands, where we climbed a hill without any enthusiasm. But, two hours before sunset as we prepared to walk in to our bothy for the night, the rain relented and the sun even came out for a brief spell. What a delight it was after being soaked all day to dry out in the wind, with views of the sea and islands! Bluebells, primroses, the carnivorous sundew and bracken littered the lower stories, as we followed the twisting path, birch and oak entangled amongst mossy rocks.

Oh the Bluebells are Blue:


The forest was full of birdsong, chaffinch, cuckoo; we saw a vast bird in the distance and wondered if it was a sea eagle.

In the North Atlantic Rainforest:


Approaching the bothy, deer watched us close up. I won't name the bothy, but those who have been there will recognise it. It is one of the most beautifully located of all bothies.

The bothy:


A tonic of a trip, and one that makes you wonder. What if the forests covered more of the country than they do now? What if we had forests like there were hundreds of years ago? Recently, native tree planting schemes have been associated with the regeneration of the country, the reappearance of fertility, jobs, diversity and sustainability in Highland areas.

We arrived back in Clydebank as the whistle blew ending the last SPL games of the season. Rangers had won the title for the first time in four years, and there were groups of delighted, blue-clad drunks outside pubs waving union flags and roaring at passing cars. It was great to see that Rangers had won the title again, but later the dark side of the Old Firm became apparent. A gang used the excuse of Rangers' victory to murder a Catholic man in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, and left another seriously injured. There were also three murders in the Glasgow area - not, according to the police, associated with the football. But it seems too much of a coincidence.

No football victory is worth men's lives, but then the football is just an excuse, a convenient flag around which the accrections of sectarianism rally. And too many people in the west think that what occurs is just the way things are. They are so steeped in daily, low-level bigotry that they don't realise it has a hold of them. It is a cancer that eats away over time at the good in people, leaving reactionary shells of humanity, fighting and refighting old battles whose cause is long forgotten. If the West of Scotland is ever to progress, then sectarianism is the nettle that must be grasped and pulled up at the root.

It will not be enough just to plant more trees.

3 comments:

Dave said...

I couldn't agree with you more....but more trees would be nice too!

Billy said...

You know, when we were shivering and soaked through on that dull featureless hill, my thoughts turned to those who weren't there and I wished Dave was there - instead of us.

blueskyscotland said...

Great wee bothy indeed..!
As an aid to my advancing years I bought an inflatable boat and engine on ebay.Now I can sail over :)
Eilean nan Gobhar opposite has a fantastic vitrified wall on the summit.Well worth a visit if you can manage it.The last time I was there the machar was in full bloom and you literally had to walk through thousands of butterflies..

You really have an excellent blog going here Robert.
Have put a link on our blog to yours Robert.