What's Tony Thinking

Walking in Scotland


Now here is an amazing thing: according to the Scottish Lands Act of 2003 walkers have a universal access to all land in Scotland.

What this means for someone like me is that there are all sorts of places to go walking, anywhere and everywhere. If you come to a moor where sheep graze, there is a gate with the request that you not bother the sheep and close the gate after yourself, but otherwise you are free to take a stroll. The photo a right is from such an area near where we stayed on the southern part of Skye.

Here’s more on the Land Reform Act of 2003 from Wikipedia: “The first part of the act codifies into Scots law the right to universal access to land in Scotland. The act specifically establishes a right to be on land for recreational, educational and certain other purposes and a right to cross land. The rights exist only if they are exercised responsibly, as specified in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. Access rights apply to any non-motorised activities, including walking, cycling, horse-riding and wild camping. They also allow access on inland water for canoeing, rowing, sailing and swimming.”

Though I don’t mean to be down on America, this is quite a contrast to the U.S. And to some recent experiences of my own in Wallowa Country, the location of the family cabin in Northeast Oregon.

Toward summer’s end I walked on a familiar dirt road. Someone popped out of their cabin to ask in a voice that belied their words, “Can I help you?” I said, “No, I don’t need help, thanks, just on my way back to the main road.” “Well, this is private property,”  In other words, get your butt outta here. Another nearby place where public access to the Wallowa River and a waterfall had existed there are now menacing signs, “Private Property, No Trespassing, 24 Hour Video Surveillance, Violators Will Be Prosecuted!”

We are an up-tight people in an up-tight land.

Here in Scotland, walking seems to be the national sport. There are lots of established trails, but beyond that you can go for a walk darn near anywhere so long as you “act responsibly.” Pretty cool! This second photo is from a hike called “The Point of Sleat.” Sleat is the peninsula on the south end of Skye. Note the purple heather and gold bracken fern.

Now we are on the northern part of Skye, staying at a really lovely place on a hillside above Loch Duneavegan. Here’s a shot of the sunrise over the Loch from yesterday morning.

All of Skye, but particular this northern area, is home to a variety of artists. The light and landscape provide inspiration. The long winter nights (daytime in winter is 9 to 3:30) provide plenty of time to work. While there are many tourists (we’re after the highest season) the local population is sparse, another positive for artists who want to give priority to their work.

Back to America . . . finding ourselves visiting with people from various places I’ve asked if they have an interest in visiting the States. Each time, so far, the answer has been a polite “no.” I’m wondering about a Trump-effect on tourism.


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