Nature’s Peace, A Celebration of Scotland’s Watershed

Scotland is traditionally divided into north and south, Highland and Lowland, but Peter Wright’s ambitious works, Ribbon of Wildness and Walking with Wildness offered another perspective, an east-west divide based on the watershed. From Carter Bar to Cape Wrath, the watershed creates a line dividing the waters flowing eastwards into the North Sea from those flowing west into the Atlantic.

His third work now extends that exploration. Nature’s Peace, A Celebration of Scotland’s Watershed (Luath, RPP £16.99) takes the great marches beyond the mainland to the Orkneys and the Shetlands. This work, a homage to John Muir and his vision of nature, also transcends fine verbal descriptions with photographs which distil one key message. They illustrate the infinitely variable wildness, both as the moving inspiration of the work but also as a precariously-held, vulnerable treasure.

Wright first walked the Watershed in 2005. He covered its 745 miles in 64 days and divided his route into five Marches, not in the sense of forced walks but in the older sense of boundaries. The Reiver March covered the Borders, the Laigh March from the Southern Upland fault line to the Highland fault, the Heartland March through the Trossachs and northwards, the Moine March from the Great Glen to Sutherland and the Northlands March eastwards across the Flow Country to Cape Wrath. To these, in this latest work, has now been added the Viking March, through the Northern Isles.

These Marches cover some of Scotland’s wildest country, with few man-made intrusions, but for one lighthouse, one ruined castle, one reservoir, one hydro-dam, two former opencast mines, two quarries, two houses – and Cumbernauld new town. The book is a guide but it is also a commentary on the human impact, for better and for worse, on the landscape.

The title comes from John Muir: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you,” and at one level the book is an invitation to accept Muir’s challenge, to climb and explore Scotland’s rugged places and revel in strength and insights they give. It is also a challenge: to live with (rather than against) these wild places and to organise our collective lives and economic structures to nurture them and protect them.

Nature’s Peace: A Celebration of Scotland’s Watershed is available here from Amazon

Published by

Alex Wood

Alex Wood has had a varied career in education. He started as an English teacher at Edinburgh’s Craigroyston High School in 1973 and completed his school-based work as Head Teacher at Wester Hailes Education Centre in 2011. In between he worked in community education, was a Learning Support teacher, headed a behaviour support unit, was Head of a special school and worked in Edinburgh’s Education headquarters. He is a member of the Education Committee of St George’s School. Alex is now an Associate at the Scottish Centre for Studies in School Administration (SCSSA) at Moray House and is Secretary of the Scottish Educational Leadership, Management and Administration Society (SELMAS) as well as being a free-lance writer. His experience however ranges well beyond the worlds of schools and education. For seven years in the 1980s he was an elected member of Edinburgh District Council and he retains a keen interest in the political world. He has a long involvement in genealogy and family history, as a researcher, teacher and writer. He is a member of Edinburgh Common Purpose’s Advisory Group and of the committee of Linlithgow Book Festival. Although he has lived in Linlithgow for over 20 years, and in Edinburgh for the previous 18 years, he remains a loyal fan of his home town football club, Brechin City.

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