r2vyln3rdioj14u-rld0ska where mountains meet the sea: 2018


A Community Remembers

a live stream of the Call na h-Iolaire Community Remembrance Event will be available here at 9.20pm (GMT) on New Year's Eve.

the 'crown sorrow of the war'

Torchlight procession through Stornoway to remember the Iolaire

An Iolaire

Calum Martin
14-18 NOW
The Darkest Dawn

a live stream of the Call na h-Iolaire Community Remembrance Event will be available here at 9.30pm (GMT) on New Year's Eve.

Remembering the Iolaire

A short video from the shore line of Sandwick, near to where I grew up. This spot marks the point of the Iolaire disaster of January 1st, 1919. This January we will mark the 100th anniversary of this disaster. 201 men lost their lives yards from the shore, minutes from the harbour of Stornoway. These were men coming home on leave for New Year after the armistice of WW1. It is a tragedy that is keenly felt by islanders to this day and I am proud to be able to tell the stories of these men. There were heroes on the night, people who probably never viewed themselves as heroes but through their efforts a total of 79 men were saved. - Alyth McCormack

Margaret Ferguson, a Western-Isles based artist, is painting 100 portraits to honour the 201 Scottish men who lost their lives at sea in the Iolaire Disaster of 1919.

A Merry Christmas

Steve Carter

wishing peace to you this Christmas season.

Joy to the World, I Guess

It’s only weeks away, New Year’s coming fast
Writing resolutions we know will never last
Like listen more, talk less
Joy to the world, I guess

Jimmy Stewart says he’ll lasso the moon
Popcorn’s almost done and we’ll both be crying soon
Laugh more, fight less
Joy to the world, I guess

Happy whatever
Merry you and I
Let’s celebrate together tonight

Folks are getting drunk, bite your tongue and smile
After auld lang syne, you won't see them for a while
Give more, ask less
Joy to the world, I guess

Happy whatever
Merry you and I
Let’s celebrate together tonight

Holidays are hard, missing those who’ve gone
They hide in snowy shadows in the moonlight on the lawn
We try our best
Joy to the world, Joy to the world, Joy to the world I guess

Happy whatever
Merry you and I
Let’s celebrate together tonight

(Auld Lang Syne)

Rebecca Loebe and Findlay Napier

Shaped by the Highlands

We live in a world where we are addicted to our phones. Checking the latest stories on Instagram and Snapchat, often living our lives through social media.

The importance of taking time out from our hectic lives, to live in the moment, to interact with the people next to us, is something that sometimes seems forgotten.

So meet Lynn Munro, 25 years old and yet to own a smartphone. Her passion for the outdoors is infectious. Her love for listening and finding inspiration from every person she meets is something, I believe, we don't see enough. After spending 48 hours in her presence to shoot this short film, she showed me how to re connect with the simple things in life. Sleeping outside under the stars, waking up early to view a sunrise and the power of conversation in big open spaces. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the beautiful Scottish countryside, but through work and study I found myself loosing my appreciation for big open spaces. I can't thank Lynn enough for reconnecting my love for large landscapes.

So after watching this video, head outside, climb a hill to see a view you wouldn't otherwise see and take a second to appreciate the beauty around you.

Thank you Lynn for allowing me into your home and world in the beautiful Scottish highlands. 
 - Robyn Spice

The morning after*

...We’re a citizenry of bonnie fighters,
a gathered folk; a culture that imparts,  
inspires, demands a rare devotion,  
no back-tracking; that each should work
and play our several parts to bring about
the best in Scotland, an open heart.

Happy St Andrew's Day!

*Scotland, 19th September 2014

The Four Pillars

The Four Pillars is a multi-media experience and musical suite from Scottish musician Mike Vass. Based on the four major tune types of the Scottish fiddle tradition – the slow air, the march, the strathspey and the reel –  Mike Vass
Fiddle Lauren MacColl, Mike Vass, Patsy Reid & Jenna Reid
Piano Tom Gibbs
Vibraphone & Percussion Iain Sandilands
String Quartet Violin Feargus Hetherington
Violin Colin McKee
Viola Asher Zaccardelli
Cello Laura Sergeant


Artists film with aerial footage of the Bhaltos peninsula on the Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. Sounds of weaving Harris Tweed by local weaver Calum Buchanan and singing by Mairi Hearach. Filmed by Claire MacLeod as part of her artists residency run by the Bhaltos Community Trust and An Lanntair in 2017. - Dave MacLeod

The Wound in Time

On 11th November 2018, Shetland took part in Danny Boyle's national commemorative event, Pages of the Sea.

The National Theatre of Scotland led on the event which saw hundreds of people visit
St Ninian's Isle beach [as well as five other Scottish beaches] to create hundreds of silhouettes of soldiers in the sand, to represent those whose lives were lost. As the tide came in, the images were washed away, creating a poignant act of commemoration.
It is the wound in Time. The century’s tides,
chanting their bitter psalms, cannot heal it.
Not the war to end all wars; death’s birthing place;
the earth nursing its ticking metal eggs, hatching
new carnage. But how could you know, brave
as belief as you boarded the boats, singing?
The end of God in the poisonous, shrapneled air.
Poetry gargling its own blood. We sense it was love
you gave your world for; the town squares silent,
awaiting their cenotaphs. What happened next?
War. And after that? War. And now? War. War.
History might as well be water, chastising this shore;
for we learn nothing from your endless sacrifice.
Your faces drowning in the pages of the sea.

An Leòn an Tìm

’S e ’n leòn an Tìm a th’ ann. Fad linne, cha shlànaich
an làn le shalmadaireachd sheirbh e. Chan e an cogadh
gus crìoch a chur air cogadh ach àite-breith a’ bhàis; uighean
meatailt a’ diogadh, gan altram aig an talamh, a’ chasgairt
ga gur às ùr. Ach ciamar a bhiodh fios agaibhse, gu calma
a’ seinn mar chreideamh, a’ dol air bòrd nam bàtaichean?
Crìoch air Dia san àile phuinnseanach làn sgolban.
Bàrdachd ga tachdadh na fuil fhèin. Fairichidh sinn gum b’ e
an gaol dhan tug sibh ur beatha; ceàrnagan nam bailtean nan tost,
a’ feitheamh rin carraighean-cuimhne. Dè thachair an uair sin?
Cogadh. Is an dèidh sin? Cogadh. Is dè a-nis? Cogadh. Cogadh.
Dh’fhaodadh eachdraidh a bhith na sàl a’ bualadh a’ chladaich
oir chan ionnsaich sinn càil às ur n-ìobairt gun sgur,
is ur n-aodannan a’ dol fodha eadar duilleagan na mara.

Carol Ann Duffy, 2018

Boats, bikes, and soggy bums

This is a little video about bikerafting in the scottish highlands, and rediscovering the joy of doing something new for the first time.

Feum thu a ràdh a-rithist? / Do you have to say it again?

Bha Seòras Nìll, bràthair mo sheanar, a’ sabaid anns a’ Chiad Chogadh agus nuair a bha mi òg bhiomaid a’ dol a chèilidh air ann an Dalabrog. Bhiodh e uaireannan ag innse mu na h-uabhasan a chunnaic agus a dh’fhuiling e fhèin agus na mìltean eile an sin. Ach, tha cogadh fhathast againn agus nam biodhte ag èisteachd riuthasan a chunnaic agus a dh’fhuiling, ’s dòcha nach biodh dùthchannan agus ceannardan cho deònach a dhol gu cogadh buileach cho luath.

My grand-uncle fought in World War 1 and when I was young we’d go to visit him. He’d sometimes tell of the suffering of war. A century on, we still have wars raging throughout the world - if leaders knew first hand of the suffering caused by war, maybe they wouldn’t be so gung-ho about commencing battle. - Gillebride MacMillan

Feum thu ràdh a-rithist?

Thuirt thu rinn an-dè mar a bha,
’s an-diugh mar a tha;
Is canaidh tu a-màireach tha mi cinnteach
mar a bhios
Ach an èistear riut ag aithris do sgeòil,
No am feum thu a ràdh a-rithist, a-rithist ,a-rithist
Am feum thu, feum thu ràdh a-rithist?

Bha na daoine chunnaic is iad thall
Ag innse mun chall
Nuair a thill iad às an spàirn;
Air tighinn a-nall
Ma thug iad comhairle dhaibh
Diù dhiubh cha do ghabh
Rinn iad an sùilean dall an dèidh gach àm
Sùilean, rinn iad an sùilean dall.

Cha bhi sinne ag iarraidh ach sìth
Gun duine le dìth,
Is nach b’ fheàrr leinn bhith leinn fhìn
Mura bi
Ach tha sinn a’ seo a-rithist
Gan sìneadh sa chill
Fealla-dhà air dhol gu feala-trì
Fealla-dhà air dhol gu feala-trì

Do you have to say it again?

You said to us yesterday, how it was
And today how it is
And you’ll say tomorrow, I’m certain,
how it will be
But who will listen to your account?
Or will you need to say it again
and again and again
Do you need to say it again?

The people who saw it,
came back from the violent conflict,
having survived,
they told of the pointless losses;
but if they gave them advice,
it wasn’t heeded,
Imperial powers blinded, time after time,
their eyes clouded and blinkered

Is it too simple to want peace in the world
without forcing people into dire need
wouldn’t it be better to stop acting
in our name,
if they can’t
But we’re here again,
Laying them in their graves
The joke’s turned sour
The joke’s turned sour

A Boy's Own World

Performed by Nick Turner and Jim Hunter with Mary Ann Kennedy. Music & lyrics from the original song by Nick Turner and Findlay Napier.
In part inspired by interviews contained within Richard Van Emden’s beautifully written Britain’s Last Tommies” and particularly Alfred Anderson (Scottish Infantryman-Western Front), the last of the Old Contemptibles
“I told my parents and my father took the news very, very badly. The first thing he said was, "You’re only a laddie apprentice, you can’t go to war.” I said, "I’m not going to war. I’m just going to Dundee drill hall.” Mum didn’t say much; she was too upset.
'Your King and Country need you: a call to arms' was published on 11 August 1914 explaining the new terms of service and calling for the first 100,000 men to enlist. This figure was achieved within two weeks.  - Watercolour Music

Roinn An Fhearainn / Dividing Of The Land

This song is dedicated to those who fought in World War 1.

O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall
Air an taobh ud dhen a' bheinn,
Fhuair iad fearann ann gun taing
Dhan luchd aingidh rinn am mealladh.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

'S nuair a thuig na gillean còir
Gun robh 'n government fo sgleò,
'S nach robh gealltanas Lloyd George
Ach mar cheò a' falbh à sealladh.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

Chruinnich iad is fhuair iad pìob
Am port a chluich iad Morair Sìm;
'S cha robh gille bha san sgìr'
Nach robh cruinn aig roinn an fhearainn.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall
Air an taobh ud dhen a' bheinn,
Fhuair iad fearann ann gun taing
Dhan luchd aingidh rinn am mealladh.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

O mo bheannachd aig na seòid
Choisinn cliù am blàr na h-Eòrp';
Fearann aca nis le còir
Fhuair iad e a dheòin neo dh'aindeoin.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall
Air an taobh ud dhen a' bheinn,
Fhuair iad fearann ann gun taing
Dhan luchd aingidh rinn am mealladh.
O 's ann tha na diùlnaich thall.

Na Siaraich

Sìne Bhàn / Fair Jean

'Sìne Bhàn' (pronounced Sheena Van), which translated from the Gaelic means ‘Fair Jean’, was written [by Duncan Johnson, a composer and collector of songs] for his wife and expresses his concern about the first World War and how it would lead to his inevitable participation. He would have to leave Jean and his [Islay] home to go and fight for his country.  Will he return to his love, his Fair Jean? In this hauntingly beautiful song he writes that he hopes to come home safely to her and to the village of Baile Mhonaidh where they live. This song is particularly pertinent just now as we remember all those who fought and died for us in WW1. - Fiona Kennedy

Blàth nan cailean, Sìne bhàn
Flower of the girls, fair Jean
Reul nan nighean dìleas, òg;
Star of maidens, faithful and young;
Cuspair dìomhar i do m’ dhan,
Secret subject of my song,
Gràdh mo chrìdh’ an ribhinn òg.
Love of my heart, the young lass. 

Aros sona bh’ againn thall
A happy house had we over yonder
Airigh mhonaidh, innis bhò,
A moorland sheiling, cattle pasture,
Sgaoil ar sonas uainn air ball
Scattered was our happiness suddenly
Mar roinneas gaoth nam fuar-bheann ceò.
As the wind drives the mist from the cold mountains.

Bruaillean cogaidh anns an tìr,
The tumult of war was in the land,
Faic an long a’ togail sheòl,
See the ship raising sail,
Cluinn an druma ’s fuaim nam pìob,
Hear the drum and the sound of the pipes,
Faic na suinn, a’ dol air bòrd.
See the heroes going on board. 

Ma tha e ’n dàn mi bhith slàn,
If it my fate to keep my health,
Stadaidh ràn nan gunnan mòr,
When the sound of the big guns will cease,
Am Baile Mhonaidh nì mi tàmh
In Baile Mhonaidh I will stay.
Le Sìne bhàn, mo rìbhinn òg.
With fair Jean, my young lass.

from Tom Colquhoun's translations

Na Mairbh san Raoin


Bu shunntach iad a’ dol thar raoin na strì
      Tha ’n sin ’nan laighe sìnt’ an sàmhchair bhuain,
Bu bhlath caoin-aiteal gràidh o mhaoin an cridh’
      Mus d’thaom dubh-dhìle ’bhàis gu shlugadh suas.
Le umhlachd dhaibh a thuit an teas a’ bhlàir,
      Gu socair, sàmhach, cladhaich uiagh rin taobh,
’S ’nan èideadh-cogaidh adhlaic iad san àit
      An d’thuit ri làr le bàs don nàmh ’nan glaodh.
Tog tosdach iad, dom b’euchdan òirdhearc cliù,
      ’S le mùirn is dàimh leig sìos an ceann san tàmh
Nach crìochnaich tìm troimh shìorraidheachd an iùil;
      Dùin suas an dachaigh ’s fàg an neòinean àillt
A’ seinn am beus san deothaig mhilis chiùin;
      ’S mar chuimhneachan tog crois air laoich a bha.


Murchadh Moireach, from the anthology In Flanders Fields: Scottish Poetry and Prose of the First World War  (ed. Trevor Royle)

The Dead in the Field

Eagerly they went across the fields of strife
    Who lie there stretched in everlasting quiet;
Warm was the tender breath of love from their heart’s wealth
    Before death’s black deluge flooded and engulfed it.
In obeisance to those who fell in the battle’s heat,
    Beside them quietly, silently dig a grave
And in their battle attire there bury them
    Where they fell down, death to the enemy in their cry.
Silently lift them, who won fame for glorious deeds,
    And with fond regard lay down their heads in the rest
Time will not end through the eternity of their course;
    Close up the dwelling, and leave the lovely daisy
To sing their virtue in the sweet breath of wind;
    And raise a cross as a memorial over warriors gone.

Murdo Murray (trans. by Ian MacDonald), from the anthology In Flanders Fields: Scottish Poetry and Prose of the First World War  (ed. Trevor Royle)


Who couldn't love
a fat orange ball,
its innocent plumpness?

Rippled flesh
the colour of leaves
the colour of cheese.

All the rage in October
but in November,
punctured, sunken.

Who pushed a knife
into its face,
carved features of hate?

Pumpkins huddle at the market,
frost glistens
on their green stems.

Can you carry that?
the cashier asks doubtfully,
but I hug mine home.

Theresa Muñoz, from Close

Lonely Scotland – A guide to hunting, trapping and wildlife persecution in Scotland

Can you tell whether a snare is illegal or not?
Do you know which species are persecuted in Scotland and why?
Did you know that goats are stalked and killed for fun?

Lonely Scotland aims to achieve two things. Firstly, it is a practical source of information on trapping, hunting and wildlife persecution in Scotland written from an animal-lover’s perspective. It provides you, the reader, with everything you need to know to establish the legality or otherwise of any wildlife persecution you might witness. Secondly, it’s part of our efforts to bring about change. Much of the persecution and ‘countryside management’ practices described in the book are hidden in plain view; violence towards wildlife that has been normalised and blended into the landscape. Lonely Scotland seeks to lift the veil, and to encourage people to see things for what they are. Because only by understanding and effectively communicating the sheer extent and brutality of wildlife persecution in Scotland, can we build the case for change. -  OneKind Scotland

Outrage on Social Media about Trophy Hunt on Islay

Loch Torridon

The dawn of night more fair than morning rose,
Stars hurrying forth on stars, as snows on snows
Haste when the wind and winter bid them speed.
Vague miles of moorland road behind us lay
Scarce traversed ere the day
Sank, and the sun forsook us at our need,
Belated. Where we thought to have rested, rest
Was none; for soft Maree's dim quivering breast,
Bound round with gracious inland girth of green
And fearless of the wild wave-wandering West,
Shone shelterless for strangers; and unseen
The goal before us lay
Of all our blithe and strange and strenuous day.

For when the northering road faced westward--when
The dark sharp sudden gorge dropped seaward--then,
Beneath the stars, between the steeps, the track
We followed, lighted not of moon or sun,
And plunging whither none
Might guess, while heaven and earth were hoar and black,
Seemed even the dim still pass whence none turns back:
And through the twilight leftward of the way,
And down the dark, with many a laugh and leap,
The light blithe hill-streams shone from scaur to steep
In glittering pride of play;
And ever while the night grew great and deep
We felt but saw not what the hills would keep
Sacred awhile from sense of moon or star;
And full and far
Beneath us, sweet and strange as heaven may be,
The sea.

The very sea: no mountain-moulded lake
Whose fluctuant shapeliness is fain to take
Shape from the steadfast shore that rules it round,
And only from the storms a casual sound:
The sea, that harbours in her heart sublime
The supreme heart of music deep as time,
And in her spirit strong
The spirit of all imaginable song.

Not a whisper or lisp from the waters: the skies were not silenter. Peace
Was between them; a passionless rapture of respite as soft as release.
Not a sound, but a sense that possessed and pervaded with patient delight
The soul and the body, clothed round with the comfort of limitless night.
Night infinite, living, adorable, loved of the land and the sea:
Night, mother of mercies, who saith to the spirits in prison, Be free.
And softer than dewfall, and kindlier than starlight, and keener than wine,
Came round us the fragrance of waters, the life of the breath of the brine.
We saw not, we heard not, the face or the voice of the waters: we knew
By the darkling delight of the wind as the sense of the sea in it grew,
By the pulse of the darkness about us enkindled and quickened, that here,
Unseen and unheard of us, surely the goal we had faith in was near.
A silence diviner than music, a darkness diviner than light,
Fulfilled as from heaven with a measureless comfort the measure of night.

But never a roof for shelter
And never a sign for guide
Rose doubtful or visible: only
And hardly and gladly we heard
The soft waves whisper and welter,
Subdued, and allured to subside,
By the mild night's magic: the lonely
Sweet silence was soothed, not stirred,
By the noiseless noise of the gleaming
Glad ripples, that played and sighed,
Kissed, laughed, recoiled, and relented,
Whispered, flickered, and fled.
No season was this for dreaming
How oft, with a stormier tide,
Had the wrath of the winds been vented
On sons of the tribes long dead:
The tribes whom time, and the changes
Of things, and the stress of doom,
Have erased and effaced; forgotten
As wrecks or weeds of the shore
In sight of the stern hill-ranges
That hardly may change their gloom
When the fruits of the years wax rotten
And the seed of them springs no more.
For the dim strait footway dividing
The waters that breathed below
Led safe to the kindliest of shelters
That ever awoke into light:
And still in remembrance abiding
Broods over the stars that glow
And the water that eddies and welters
The passionate peace of the night.

All night long, in the world of sleep,
Skies and waters were soft and deep:
Shadow clothed them, and silence made
Soundless music of dream and shade:
All above us, the livelong night,
Shadow, kindled with sense of light;
All around us, the brief night long,
Silence, laden with sense of song.
Stars and mountains without, we knew,
Watched and waited, the soft night through:
All unseen, but divined and dear,
Thrilled the touch of the sea's breath near:
All unheard, but alive like sound,
Throbbed the sense of the sea's life round:
Round us, near us, in depth and height,
Soft as darkness and keen as light.

And the dawn leapt in at my casement: and there, as I rose, at my feet
No waves of the landlocked waters, no lake submissive and sweet,
Soft slave of the lordly seasons, whose breath may loose it or freeze;
But to left and to right and ahead was the ripple whose pulse is the sea's.
From the gorge we had travelled by starlight the sunrise, winged and aflame,
Shone large on the live wide wavelets that shuddered with joy as it came;
As it came and caressed and possessed them, till panting and laughing with light
From mountain to mountain the water was kindled and stung to delight.
And the grey gaunt heights that embraced and constrained and compelled it were glad,
And the rampart of rock, stark naked, that thwarted and barred it, was clad
With a stern grey splendour of sunrise: and scarce had I sprung to the sea
When the dawn and the water were wedded, the hills and the sky set free.
The chain of the night was broken: the waves that embraced me and smiled
And flickered and fawned in the sunlight, alive, unafraid, undefiled,
Were sweeter to swim in than air, though fulfilled with the mounting morn,
Could be for the birds whose triumph rejoiced that a day was born.
And a day was arisen indeed for us. Years and the changes of years
Clothed round with their joys and their sorrows, and dead as their hopes and their fears,
Lie noteless and nameless, unlit by remembrance or record of days
Worth wonder or memory, or cursing or blessing, or passion or praise,
Between us who live and forget not, but yearn with delight in it yet,
And the day we forget not, and never may live and may think to forget.
And the years that were kindlier and fairer, and kindled with pleasures as keen,
Have eclipsed not with lights or with shadows the light on the face of it seen.
For softly and surely, as nearer the boat that we gazed from drew,
The face of the precipice opened and bade us as birds pass through,
And the bark shot sheer to the sea through the strait of the sharp steep cleft,
The portal that opens with imminent rampires to right and to left,
Sublime as the sky they darken and strange as a spell-struck dream,
On the world unconfined of the mountains, the reign of the sea supreme,
The kingdom of westward waters, wherein when we swam we knew
The waves that we clove were boundless, the wind on our brows that blew
Had swept no land and no lake, and had warred not on tower or on tree,
But came on us hard out of heaven, and alive with the soul of the sea.

Algernon Charles Swinburne

The Stars are a Map I Unfurl

British Sign Language poetry (extracted from a longer poem) by Gary Quinn
English and Shetlandic poetry by Christine De Luca
based on the epic solo voyage of Gerry Hughes 
concept by Kyra Pollitt
You can read more about the project on the Scottish Poetry Library's website.

Shetland's mobile library service

Take a trip with librarian Annette Shewan who drives one of the two library vans for the Shetland Library. “It [the library van] has always been very popular and well used. You go into people’s houses and end up helping them with their computer … giving information is what we do.”

Donnie Campbell

In this video Donnie Campbell explores just what it is he loves about running and the need for personal challenge, why his background in the marines and being brought up in Skye makes him so good at it, and why there’s nothing worse than soggy Jelly Tots. - Outdoor Adventure Guide

Forest to Mountain

October break and a surprise in the Cairngorms when the World Porridge Championships arrive. Following my fill with Porridge, I head out to wander around the forest looking for the edge to get a view to the Cairngorms.... - Scotland's Mountains

Baddengorm Woods
Creag a'Bhainne

Alexander Henry Rhind and Archaeology

Margaret Maitland, Curator of the Ancient Mediterranean, National Museums Scotland, presents her Rhind Lecture on "Alexander Henry Rhind and Archaeology".

A look at how [Wick-born] Alexander Henry Rhind’s work in Scotland informed his pioneering work in Egypt, advocacy for the protection of antiquities in both Scotland and Egypt, and his role in devising the original displays of British, Scottish, and Egyptian artefacts at the National Museum of Antiquities. -
Society of  Antiquaries of Scotland

A weekend in Mey

A weekend spent exploring the most northerly part of the Scottish mainland. From the sheep of Caithness to a sunset at Dunnet Head, you don't have to travel far from home for some extraordinary sites when you're lucky enough to live in the Highlands. - Thomas Hogben

A CALL FOR CHANGE in rural communities and protected areas

As part of the Year of Young People 2018 here in Scotland, young people from across Europe will present their Manifesto for the future of protected areas in September to all delegates.

Here, Steffi Burger, the Europarc Federation communications and policy assistant, is here to update us on what has happened and what is going to happen next.

Europarc Youth Manifesto Project 2018

London Scottish*

April, the last full fixture of the spring:
'Feet, Scottish, feet!' – they rucked the fear of God
Into Blackheath. Their club was everything:
And of the four sides playing that afternoon,
The stars, but also those from the back pitches,
All sixty volunteered for the touring squad,
And swapped their Richmond turf for Belgian ditches.
October: mad for a fight, they broke too soon
On the Ypres Salient, rushing the ridge between
'Witshit' and Messines. Three-quarters died.

Of that ill-balanced and fatigued fifteen
The ass selectors favoured to survive,
Just one, Brodie the prop, resumed his post.
The others sometimes drank to 'The Forty-Five':
Neither a humorous nor an idle toast.

Mick Imlah, from The Lost Leader

* background to the poem

The Burning

As spiders haul their thread from stem
to stem to weave the light, what do they care
if all that skilful labour’s lost when
wind unravels it, unpicking all their
careful artistry? As birds weave leaf
and stalk into their nests, abandoning
them to decay when fledglings leave,
only to build them back again in spring –
so Angus haunts the woodland hour on hour,
labouring under branches, quiet, unseen,
pulls buttercup, vetch, clovers – winding flowers
like wild embroidery into cloths of green;
makes mufflers, tailored jackets, sprouting hats,
garments for a giant or a king
to stalk the hills and sport the finery that
he has wrought from his imaginings,
and then forgets – so all this fine attire
is left to rot and compost in the rain.
He watches gardeners rake them on a pyre
of autumn leaves, then crafts them all again
because he must. Watches their ashes wind
up towers of smoke, soaring like elegies
to distant landscapes of the mind, making
of these most precious gifts, a sacrifice.

Chrys Salt, from Grass

Final Call*

Our coalition came together in around 2007 to provide a strong civil society voice feeding into the development of the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. Watch this short video to find out more about how SCCS, as the largest civil society coalition in Scotland, influenced Scotland's climate law.  - Stop Climate Chaos Scotland
Scotland has a great opportunity to commit to more ambitious action right now. By improving the new Climate Bill going through Parliament we can further cut emissions in the crucial period before 2030. - Friends of the Earth Scotland

We must act faster on climate change

*Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'

Love Gathers All

Orkney is renowned for its poetry, stories and songs. Writers such as George Mackay Brown, Edwin Muir, Christina Costie and many more have captured the essence of the islands. 'Song' is a poem by Edwin Muir, which we have set to our own melody. - FARA

Gaelic for Outlanders: Climate Change

As part of Climate Week we are releasing a new Gaelic for Outlanders video with some words associated with our changing climate.

Mar phàirt de sheachdain far a bhios sinn a’ sònrachadh air cùisean co-cheangailte ri atharrachadh na gnàth-shìde, tha bhideo eile againn anns an t-sreath de Ghàidhlig son Outlanders far an tèid ionnsachadh air cuid de na faclan a thaobh aimsir.
- Historic Environment Scotland


Tha cian nan cian a-nis bho thàinig
gainneamh a Sahàra a Ghlaschu,
is tha creagan Leòdhais tòrr nas sine
na Tursachan Chalanais,
ach fhathast, chan eil sinn air ar glasadh
ri mointeach is cladach,
no ann an taighean-prìosain
nam bailtean:
’s tha crith-thalmhainn
gar sgapadh
gu rannan-ruadha an t-saoghail mhòir
’s ar cainnt ’s ar dualchas gar leantainn.

Ruaraidh Mac Thòmais


It was many years ago
that the sand of the Sahara reached Glasgow,
and the Lewis rocks are much older
than the Callanish Giants,
but still we are not confined
to moor and seashore,
nor to the prisons
of the cities:
and an earthquake
scatters us
to the far edges of the great world,
with our language and our tradition going with us.

Derick Thomson

National Poetry Day 2018

Rudan a nì uisge

Smaoinich air tuil, smaoinich air tobar,
smaoinich air muileann, ’s i ’g obair ’s ag obair;

smaoinich air d’ fhuil ’s i falbh ’s a’ falbh
trod chuislean uile a dh’oidhche ’s a là;

smaoinich air craobhan ’s feur ’s air lusan,
chan fhàsadh iad idir gun frasan is fliuichead;

smaoinich ort fhèin a-muigh anns a’ pholl—
dè ghlanas an salchar aig a’ cheann thall?

Smaoinich air mamaidh a’ dèanamh do dhìnneir,
gun uisge sa phana cha bhruicheadh nì dhi;

smaoinich air uisge a thig às an adhar,
cò às tha e tighinn agus càit am falbh e?

Smaoinich air cungadh nuair bhios sinn tinn,
cò ann a leaghas na mathasan grinn?

Smaoinich air frasair no bath mòr teth,
le splis is le splais is deatach tighinn dheth.

’S tha ceud rud eile a nì sinn le uisge,
nach smaoinich thu orra is tòisich air liosta.

Maoilios Caimbeul, from Dreuchd An Fhigheadair / The Weaver's Task: a Gaelic Sampler (ed  by Crìsdean MhicGhilleBhàin/Christopher Whyte

Think of a flood
Think of a flood, think of a well
Working, working, think of a mill.
Think of your blood, moving, moving
Through every artery of night and morning
Think how the grass, trees and plants know
They need the cloud-bursts of rain to grow
Think of yourself out in the mud and the mire
Think what cleans your hands, feet, hair.
Think of mammy making your dinner
Without water boiling in the pan for her
Think of water that comes from air,
How it came from there and goes, where?
Think of medicine when we are ill
How much water we need to get well
Think of a hot bath or a shower
The splish-splash pleasure, the hot vapours.
So many other things we may need water for
Make your own list for your son or your daughter.
translated by Jackie Kay

The universal reach of Gaelic song

Celebrated Gaelic singer Anne Martin discusses how music can bring people together and help break down cultural divides. As well as reflecting on her own international work, she performs a moving song she shared with delegates at an indigenous music seminar in Melbourne.

Sàl / Saltwater

Collaboration between musician and composer Iain Morrison with visual artists Dalziel + Scullion on a performance to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of The IOLAIRE, on which 205 returning servicemen lost their lives as they approached Stornoway on New Years Eve 1918. Twelve short films have been made to accompany a live performance of the music.
Co-commissioned by An Lanntair, Stornoway and 14-18 NOW: WW1 Centenary Art Commissions

Air for John Rae

Jennifer Wrigley playing at the opening of a new gallery in The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London. She wrote the piece for the 200th anniversary of the birth of the explorer John Rae and is playing on the fiddle Rae took with him on his arctic expeditions and which is now displayed in Stromness Museum in Orkney, his home.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh lecture: John Rae: Forgotten Hero of Arctic Exploration

Take the Slow Road

Highlands and Islands tour video, featuring Kicks In live from Orkney.

Filmed and Edited by Colin Macleod


Eilidh has never left her island. Every day is the same. Same chores, same people, same conversations. She stands on the cliffs and dreams of the Bigland over the sea.
Then one day a strange girl from faraway arrives on the Island - and with her, events that will change Eilidh's life forever.

Boldly exploring themes of conflict, migration and identity, Islander is for everyone 8 years and older. Blending dramatic action, epic storytelling and a cappella song, the performers live-record and layer their voices with looping technology to create a feast for the ears and imagination. -
Helen Milne, producer
directed by Amy Draper
written by Stewart Melton
music & lyrics by Finn Anderson

developed in association with Mull Theatre
supported by Creative Scotland

Rose Hips and Thistles

It's been a long Indian summer
and the hips are rotting on the beach rose.

I can almost taste their sour skins -
red balls of seeds glistening

like fiery cauldrons in the late September sun;
green tentacles dripping below.

I’m dreaming of exotic gentians,
alpines, delphiniums.

But it's the last of the flowering thistles
that stand before me

with their decadent helmets and feathers.
I think of Ellen Willmott

secretly scattering thistle seeds
in her neighbours' gardens,

spreading pieces of herself - a legacy, to grow
and grow again when her body

is lowered to feed the earth
in a last great act of love.


Cúchulainn focuses on climber and writer Ian ’Spike’ Sykes, whose life has been shaped by the Scottish Highlands and his experiences in the RAF Mountain Rescue team.
Shot in a variety of locations across Skye, from the dark walls of Garbh Corrie to the striking pinnacles of the Basteir Tooth, the film’s poignancy centres around a remote corner of the island, tucked below the Dubhs in the Coruisk Memorial Hut. Spike reflects on his love of Scotland, his affinity with the wild ridge line, and his memories of the tragic mountain rescue call out that took place over the New Year of 1963. The film also invites us to reflect on the poignancy of the setting by featuring a rendition by Spike on the banjo performing ‘The Grand Old Masters’, a folk song written by the late Tom Patey as a homage to his closest climbing friends including Jimmy Marshall and Don Whillans. - Coldhouse Collective
Live it up, fill your cup, drown your sorrow
And sow your wild oats while ye may
For the toothless old tykes of tomorrow
Were the Tigers of Yesterday

as sung by Tom Patey, from The Last of the Grand Old Masters

3 I 6 I 5

A short film highlighting humans' want and need for adventure. Aiming to inspire the viewer to endeavour to achieve more in their daily lives.
A film by Emma Whitaker/Silver Sloth Productions
Entered for the Women In Mountain Adventure film competition 2015

The Silent Islands

Using a battered medium format camera once belonging to the legendary photographer Fay Godwin, Alex Boyd captures the archipelago of St Kilda in a new light, from a 21st century perspective. From the crumbling Cold War military base to the wild beauty of the natural landscape, this collection of photographs is both an ode to the history of the islands and an insight into the modern day lives of those who live and work on St Kilda today. - Faclan

Proud Ness

Donald Morrison is challenged by Bauer Radio Scotland’s North of Scotland Correspondent Bryan Rutherford over his claims that the LGBT pride parade planned for the Highland capital next month will ‘promote immorality.’

Unbelievable response, almost at 7000 in a couple of days. Thank you to everyone who has signed, it just goes to show that when so many people come together we can spread a positive message and hopefully build towards having a more equal community. Thank you ❤️ - Rona Graham and Norman MacKinnon, of  Support Inverness Gay Pride and the LGBTQI community petition

Update: Thousands attend Pride events in Inverness and Stornoway

Àros na Fèinn

The Abode of the Fianna