What's your favourite thing about leading Brightwater tours?
The satisfaction of having shown people places and wildlife they might never have discovered otherwise - regardless of whether it's in Scotland or elsewhere in the Nordic regions.
Tell us about your favourite place to visit with Brightwater?
Islay is such a contrast to any of the other Hebrides, Inner or Outer. There are wild, high places, inaccessible cliffs and wonderful sandy beaches, but there’s also good arable farming of oats, barley and grassland supporting productive beef cattle and sheep. The local barley is put to excellent use in the 12 distilleries on Islay and its neighbouring island of Jura. Local fishing also means that absolutely fresh seafood platters are served groaning with lobster, crab, langoustines, scallops and mussels. On a clear day, one has excellent views westwards to Ulster, northwards to Colonsay and Mull, and eastwards to Jura and beyond that the mainland of Argyll stretching all the way south to the tip of Kintyre. For the ornithologist, there are the rare choughs on the OA peninsula and, in the winter, many tens of thousands of migrating geese from Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard and mainland Scandinavia.
The Uists in the Outer Hebrides. There is a romanticism associated with these islands not only in their prehistoric roots, but in the subsequent Viking and Jacobite eras, and their place in history when travel by sea meant they were positioned on a maritime highway. The six islands in the Uist group that remain populated provide an insight into a crofting way of life that may not survive for very much longer. Mostly low-lying, there is a huge contrast between the high, rugged hills on the eastern coast of North and South Uist and the low machair lands to the west. The hills support red deer and raptors, the machair is a fertile plain of amazing and colourful wildflowers and migrating birds such as buntings, dotterels and corncrake. On a warm, still summer’s day, the deserted beaches on all the islands are a delight.
Walking the coastal path to Reinigeadal on the island of Harris and watching otters frolicking in Loch Trolamaraig, several hundred feet beneath us. Then later, on that same trek, returning inland on the old packman’s track through Glen Lacasdail and listening to the deep-throated roaring of the red deer stags rutting in the corries, high on the slopes surrounding us and echoing all around.