The Scottish Sporting Gazette - Summer 2015
It was an exciting theme from the outset - one that tugs at the very heartstrings of anyone who has ventured into the region. The Highlands and Islands are places of superlatives, where the landscapes are as stunning as the sporting grounds are fertile, and where the community life is as persuasive as the whisky is renowned.
We set out to explore the culture, sport and traditions that are intrinsic to these hills and isles, and were often rendered speechless by what we unearthed. Within this theme another soon emerged; from the spice of life on Orkney (page 76) to the soothing pace of Iona (page 56), the Highlands and Islands truly get under the skin; there's just something magical about this part of the world.
No-one knows this better than Ian Lawson, a man for whom a trip to the Outer Hebrides sparked a passion that would fundamentally alter the direction of both his personal and professional life. Whilst following the connection between the land, thread and weaver to create the legendary Harris Tweed, he discovered that the process encompasses an entire way of life (page 12). The characters involved in its manufacture - such as Morag Mackinnon, featured on the front cover - have a unique quality; a preserved charisma and charm far removed from the modern world.
While the region appeals on so many levels, it is the sporting opportunities that entice people to return time and time again. Though for many there is an avant-garde for large driven shoots or an expectancy of a tight line with every cast, this is simply not what the Highlands and Islands are about. Quite the contrary. Here, sportsmen and women are rewarded not by numbers but by unrivalled scenery and seclusion. Ask Simon Barr (page 26), whose highlight of the 2014/15 season was a day spent hunting snipe on the tiny and uninhabited island of Taransay - his bag just 1" brace.
The Highlands have a power to astonish and surpass all expectations like no other place on Earth. Glen Cannich provides a perfect example (page 66). The endless scree-strewn massifs, motorboat entry and pure solitude of stalking a red stag in such a place cannot be described with words alone. Even the excellent photography of John MacTavish barely does its majesty justice.
Another talented photographer, L'opold Amory, is inclined to agree, as he recently uncovered a deep reverence whilst watching the relationship between a falconer and his peregrine play out in the skies above the Cairngorms (page 106). This bond is the result of immeasurable time and effort, and the pleasure of the hunt is in the pursuit.
As part of this brilliant team at BPG we've been extremely fortunate to visit many amazing sporting destinations across the UK and further afield, but there is just something about the Highlands and Islands... there's the natural beauty and mystery, true escapism punctuated by the most intriguing of characters and cultures, and the sport demands admiration and anticipation. There is nothing run-of-the-mill or as expected; this is a place of extremities and severity - we urge you to go explore it.