Scottish Snippets

Colour Supplement

17 January 2009

The Rampant Scotland Newsletter includes a number of photographs which illustrate the weather and the seasons, plus the flora and fauna of the current week around Scotland. This separate "colour supplement" displays some more pictures, in a larger format. Here is this week's crop of Scottish views!

This is Airth Castle near Falkirk and the river Forth. There was an earlier castle here in the days of William Wallace and during his efforts to free Scotland, Wallace was forced to rescue his uncle from this early Airth Castle. The present castle incorporates a 15th century tower, known as Wallace's Tower, but it has been extended several times, notably in the 19th century, which obscured much of the earlier buildings. The castle was owned by a Bruce family, passing through other hands until finally reaching the Grahams. The Graham family became Earls of Airth in 1633. Airth Castle is now a hotel.

Although Glasgow is many miles inland from the sea, the river Clyde is tidal to beyond the centre of the city. Although recently constructed bridges mean that large vessels can no longer reach the docks which were once a feature of central Glasgow, the river still provides access to quite large ships as far as Shieldhall, just up from the Braehead shopping mall. That is thanks to a channel which has been dredged in the centre of the river. Even so, the river is not particularly wide and when vessels as large as this one pass by, they tower over the river bank. This is the "Prince of Ocean", a wood chip carrier bringing a cargo of animal feed to Glasgow at Shieldhall docks. She was built in Japan in 1991 is over 41,000 tonnes deadweight. Her overall length is 195.0 metres (640 feet).

"Prince of Ocean" needed the services of a couple of tugs so that it could turn 180 degrees in the narrow river before it could leave Shieldhall Docks to proceed back downriver. One of the tugs - "Warrior III" - was some distance ahead of the cargo ship. The tug is seen passing the Royal Navy's latest destroyers being fitted out at Whiteinch by BVT Surface Fleet. HMS Daring (launched in February 2006) is the ship nearest the dock. This high-tech warship left the Clyde a few days after this photo was taken, to sail to Portsmouth which will be her home port. Her sister ships (Dauntless, Diamond and Dragon) are at various stages of completion at the facility.

Gorse is a most amazing shrub. Evergreen, and capable of growing eventually to nine feet high, its spines can be an inch long. But it is its brilliant yellow flowers that are the most striking element of this plant as the blooms can appear at just about any time of the year. Its main flowering season is March to July when hillsides can be covered in a mass of yellow flowers. But it can continue flowering until October and some plants produce these flower spikes throughout the autumn and winter. There is an old proverb: "When gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of season." Gorse also produces a strong vanilla and coconut fragrance. In days gone by, the tough branches and spikes of gorse were hauled up and down chimneys to sweep away soot.

This picture of sunlight glinting through the trees was taken by Vicki in Beecraigs Country Park. This public park nestles high in the Bathgate Hills near the historic town of Linlithgow, Beecraigs caters for a wide range of leisure and recreational activities within its 913 acres, including fishing and archery and there is also a deer herd. The Park is open throughout the year (dawn to dusk) and admission is free.

If you want to look back at earlier editions of this Colour Supplement, there is an Index Page

Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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