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

 

The above article first appeared in Lothian Life on 12 December 2103 http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/2013/12/natures-peace-a-celebration-of-scotlands-watershed/

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