Education and Communications

Slowly Into Secret Scotland | National Geographic

I believe that to truly slow down, 
you have to change the way you travel. Cycling allows me to travel more fluidly, to connect more deeply with my surroundings and, I hope, with the people 
who call this place home. I’m Michael George and I’m a National 
Geographic travel photographer. I’m exploring the Scottish Borders by bike. My journey will take me from the heart of this region out to the North Sea coast. I’m curious to understand more of the area’s history and how the region inspired the 
legendary writer, Sir Walter Scott. Well, welcome to Abbotsford, home of Walter Scott. Built this home himself with 
the proceeds of his writing.  Disaster struck when he was a toddler
because he contracted polio and because of his infirmity, he was quite lonely and his imagination was fired 
with all the stories of the Borders. Shall we take a travel back in time and I’ll give you a little bit of introduction
to this great house? Sure. It’s like a beautiful chaos. I think that’s a wonderful expression. “A beautiful chaos” is absolutely correct. but most importantly perhaps are the
shields that go round the ceiling, because these are the shields 
of the families of the Borders. You have this wonderful view 
of the magnificent River Tweed. Scott was an environmentalist. Looking after the landscape was
something that was very important to him and of course many of these magnificent trees,
we see in the natural landscape, were possibly planted by Scott. We don’t know which ones
but we can just be grateful. With this gratitude in mind I head further into the incredible
cultural tapestry of the area. There is a warmth and honesty to the 
people even in your first meeting. It’s as if you’ve known them all your life. You arrive a stranger but leave a friend. The Scottish Borders is a place that feels hidden. Everything seems to be tucked away. But traveling more slowly allows for
gentler places to reveal themselves. The ruins of ancient abbeys, beautiful bridges across the River Tweed. Each place with its own magic. Moving through the ever-changing landscape, woven with reminders of the region’s history, I am moved by how deeply
connected the people are both to the past and to the present. Peel towers, fortifications originally built to 
protect the people from invasion and capture, are now perfect for capturing a photograph. An ethos of conservation is evident here from Scott’s dedication in planting trees to today’s wildlife preservation at 
St. Abb’s Head National Nature Reserve. Hi there.
Hi Michael. How are you doing? It’s nice to meet you. I’m Ciaran, I’m
the ranger here at St. Abb’s Head. Yeah, it’s so nice to meet you.
You too, yeah. The sea’s nice and calm so just keep an eye out for dolphins and whales and so even at this time you can see Bottlenose dolphins quite close in. Oh amazing.
Yeah. So, St. Abb’s Head is a really heavily designated site. So, it’s a national nature reserve which is one of
the core purposes is to connect people and nature and protect the nature as well.
Yeah. The reasons why this site is designated 
is for its assemblage of wildflowers. So, if you come in midsummer there’s
like carpets of pink thrift and a sea of yellow from various flowers,
rock rose and gorse and… yeah, it’s beautiful. So, we’ve got an amazing grey seal colony
here, so in just a couple of weeks time the first pup will be born and from the little lump
of land up there and back to this beach here there’ll be over eighteen hundred pups born on the beaches. So, in the summer the sea birds take over. So, they completely fill the stacks. The noise, the smell is incredible. But we get about 60,000 seabirds here
and really is an assault on all your senses. So, I kind of feel the responsibility on my
shoulders to protect and conserve what’s here, to try and provide the habitat and try and protect
it from anything that’s going to damage it, or harm it. The Scottish Borders is a place 
with many stories to uncover. If you want to know more, it’s as simple as asking. But to get the full story, you’ll have to slow down.
Video source:

Related Articles

Back to top button