Lessons from the Cape Wrath Trail, caring for red squirrels, and the superficial din of the glowing screen

This week's Pinnacle Reads

This week we have some cracking pieces on nature and long-distance hiking, wildlife photography and wildlife care, the evolution of the rewilding debate, and the evolution of the digital minimalism debate. One thing that interests me about the pandemic era is how some of the rather simplistic narratives and ideas that had been building Before are turning into more nuanced forms of their earlier selves, and I think that can only be a good thing.

How lockdown—and birding—changed the way I hike – Andy Wasley on a change of perception that I think many of us can relate to: ‘Lockdown called me to birding, and birding has changed me. Alone or with friends or strangers, I’ve come to appreciate a new way of enjoying my own space, and learned to see the landscape over more scales and in more detail than before.’

Lessons from the Cape Wrath Trail – great stuff here from David Lintern, who recently completed this fantastic long-distance walk across Scotland. His advice is excellent – especially the fact that it’s hard to manage and predict your expected mileage.

Farming, Fears and Folly – Patrick Laurie writes for SCOTLAND: The Big Picture about the future of working landscapes, the ‘r’ word (rewilding), and how farming and nature are two sides of the same coin.

How to Photograph Pine Martens – my brother James Roddie writes for Nature TTL about capturing these elusive animals. James has specialised in pine martens for several years now and has created award-winning images.

Simply Red – Polly Pullar, on caring for red squirrels and other wild creatures: ‘As I rise in the small hours in high summer, the kitchen windows flung wide and the hot breath of night sighing from the garden, the calls of tawny owls fill the room, I feel the weight of responsibility towards these tiny squirrels so dependent on me… We do indeed love red squirrels, but it’s important to remember that without our help, we are in danger of losing these athletic woodland sprites.’

David Ross: Police must side with citizens to protect Scotland’s right to roam – ‘In Ardnamurchan in 2019, however, two local residents were reported to the police for alleged aggravated trespass … The retired couple said they had been walking the path in question unhindered for 40 years, and that their “crime” had been to pass within a few yards of a biomass woodchip shed, built in recent years.’

Sabrina and the Wainwrights – a great blog post here from Chris Lines, reflecting on the achievement of Sabrina Verjee, who recently set a new FKT for a continuous round of the Lake District’s Wainwrights.

Thoughts After Six Years As A Trustee Of The John Muir Trust – Chris Townsend ends a six-year stint as a Trustee of the JMT, and looks back on some of the conservation successes during that time.

When reaching the summit is just a tick in the box – Mark and Edita climb Binnein Beag in Glen Nevis. ‘What we found could only be described as inviting if you’d just had one of those nights out where several bouncers have refused you entry for wearing the wrong shoes and the only place left is a snooker hall accessed via a dark stairwell.’

Sebastian Junger’s Focused Retreat – what interested me about this fairly typical Cal Newport blog post, about how a writer boosts his productivity through solitude in a writing retreat, was my own reaction to it. Specifically, this quote (emphasis mine): ‘It’s hard, I imagine, to get lost in the superficial din of that glowing screen in your hand when outside your window is a [sic] quiet woods, only partially muffling the sound of crashing waves beyond. That’s the type of space that inspires one to instead orient their attention toward the deep and the slow.’ That ‘I imagine’ speaks volumes, doesn’t it? What about those of us who live in these places full time, rather than visiting them with our urban attitudes? There’s some truth here, but if we place solitude and immersion in nature on a pedestal, treat them as this magical other place that we visit in order to boost productivity (and hence increase our value in the capitalist system), what does that say about us? These are all questions I ponder in my forthcoming book, The Farthest Shore. There was a time when I hung on Cal Newport’s every word, but let’s just say that my thinking has evolved on this matter over the last couple of years – and I think the entire digital minimalism debate is gradually moving forward too.

Until next time,



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