Legends of the West Grand Tours of Scotland's Lochs


Legends of the West

Paul Murton takes a tour of Scotland's lochs. In this edition, he explores the wilds of Loch Etive, from the Falls of Lora to Buchaille Etive More.


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Transcript


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The beautiful waters of Loch Etive, hemmed in by high mountains,

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lie at the centre of a landscape that fuels the imagination.

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There's an almost primeval feeling about this place.

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These shores are wild and inhospitable,

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and steeped in Celtic myth and legend.

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Lochs are Scotland's gift to the world.

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They're a product of an element

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that we have in spectacular abundance - water.

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It's been estimated that there are more than 31,000 lochs in Scotland.

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They come in all shapes and sizes,

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from long fjord-like sea lochs,

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great freshwater lochs of the Central Highlands,

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to the innumerable lochans that stud the open moors.

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In this series, I'm on a loch-hopping journey

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across Scotland, discovering how they've shaped the character

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of the people who live close to their shores.

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For this grand tour, I'm exploring the origins of a mythic world,

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as I follow a loch from sea to mountain.

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My destination for this grand tour is Argyll and Loch Etive,

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which runs from the White Dogs of Connel through the lands of Lorne,

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before turning north-east towards the high mountains of Glencoe.

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Loch Etive is a classic fjord,

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and was fashioned by ancient glaciers that scoured out

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the landscape, as they made their way slowly to the sea.

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The untamed shores of upper Loch Etive are truly remote.

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There is no public road into this wilderness,

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and no settlements along its farthest reaches.

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The loch meets the sea and the Firth of Lorne at its narrowest point,

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where the early Gaels settled 1,600 years ago.

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They called their kingdom Dal Riata,

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and its history is populated with heroes and their mighty deeds.

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The narrowest part of the loch is the closest to the sea.

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Today, it's spanned by a bridge at Connel.

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Connel means "the White Dogs" in Gaelic.

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So-called because of the tidal race

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that rips through the narrows at an incredible 12 knots.

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The White Dogs are known in English as the Falls Of Lora,

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and when the tide is running, the Dogs

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become a playground for the brave.

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The tide is in full flood and, to watch the sport,

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I've joined kayaker Dave Bleazard

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on a powerboat in the middle of the falls.

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Well, Loch Etive runs about 15 miles up behind you,

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up to Taynuilt and then all the way up to the head of the loch.

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And the tide drops - today it's stopping by about three metres

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in height, so all that volume of water,

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three metres of all the surface area of Loch Etive,

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has got to all come piling through this gap.

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But it's amazing, the force of water that we're looking at here.

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There's great boils erupting on the surface,

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as if there's something alive down there.

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Yeah, the bottom's not flat, so there's pinnacles and hollows,

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and it forces the water up and it forces it down and, yeah,

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it's just not a straight run through at all.

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Now, if you were in a kayak over there,

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what kind of challenges are you faced with?

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Staying upright is the first of them!

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There's plenty of boils and things that are going to push your boat

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-around, push you sideways.

-But this is strictly for experts,

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-I'm guessing?

-Yeah, the boys that will be on here today

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are some of Scotland's top paddlers, absolutely.

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Oh! He's gone, he's gone.

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He's back up again.

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Oh! Dearie me! THEY LAUGH

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That water's gone right up his nose.

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I thought he was a goner for a moment.

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It's amazing how quickly they can recover.

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Some of the kayakers are making use of an unusual two-metre wave

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that's formed under the bridge.

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-That's a big wave.

-It is, yes.

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But it's not actually moving anywhere, is it?

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-It's a standing wave.

-Yes.

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So that's, like, quite a strange phenomenon, is it not?

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Well, in ocean terms, it is.

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In river terms, it's not.

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We get a lot of waves on the river that stand still.

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And so, it is, it's a river feature on the sea.

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So, you'll be able to have lots of opportunity as a kayaker

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to just constantly surf this wave.

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-Yeah.

-And it's not going to ever break and reach ashore?

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No, that's right.

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It's hardly surprising that the early traveller Dorothy Wordsworth

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never forgot the Falls Of Lora.

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In 1803, she and her brother, the poet William Wordsworth,

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crossed in an open boat with their horse and trap.

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"The horse fretted and stamped

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"its feet against the bare boards.

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"The tide was rushing violently

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"and making a strong eddy so that

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"the motion, the noise and foam terrified him still more,

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"and we thought that it would be impossible to keep him in the boat."

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Fortunately, they just managed to stop the horse from jumping

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overboard and capsizing the boat.

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And guess what? They never took a Highland ferry again.

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Paddling at slack tide,

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with the fury of the falls but a memory,

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I make my way to one of the most ancient castles in Scotland.

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The imposing fortress of Dunstaffnage

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has guarded the entrance to Loch Etive for centuries.

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In the Middle Ages, Dunstaffnage became a centre

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of Clan MacDougall power.

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Now, unfortunately, they backed the wrong side

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in the Wars of Scottish Independence,

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and were defeated by Robert the Bruce,

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who confiscated their lands and gave them to their arch rivals,

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Clan Campbell, who have reigned supreme here ever since.

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With so much Campbell history embued in its ancient walls,

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Dunstaffnage is a place of legends,

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where the past and the supernatural seem to be ingrained into

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the very fabric of the building.

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Lorn Macintyre has known the castle since he was a boy.

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Having spent his formative years in its shadow,

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the place and its Campbell keepers

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have left a great impression on him.

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Now, Lorn, you've known Dunstaffnage since you were a boy,

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-is that not right?

-Yes,

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we grew up beside Angus Campbell, the 20th hereditary captain

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-of Dunstaffnage, as he never failed to remind people.

-Right!

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My grandmother was his housekeeper in the mansion house,

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which burnt down in 1940, and she was really,

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for the rest of his life, his confidant, and looked after him.

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He's a very colourful character.

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He was a very, very colourful character.

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He was, I would call,

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one of the last of the traditional lairds.

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He was steeped in his own heritage,

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but also very much steeped in a kind of Celtic, mystical,

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supernatural heritage.

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He lived, I think, in a world of ghosts,

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and he lived in a world of rituals.

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When you walked up the avenue with him in the twilight,

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and the moon was rising, he insisted on stopping

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and opening his sporran and turning the coins over,

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because he had a superstition about that,

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and when you were in my grandmother's kitchen when he was

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taking his coffee, you daren't look at the new moon through glass.

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-Right, why was that?

-Because he thought it would bring misfortune

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onto you. He was enormously superstitious.

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He believed, somehow, that these supernatural apparitions -

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and there were apparitions -

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were part of his heritage like the paintings on the walls,

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and therefore just to be accepted.

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The captaincy of Dunstaffnage is

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a hereditary title, granted by the Campbell Duke of Argyll.

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In addition to a peppercorn rent,

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the captains are traditionally obliged

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to spend each Midsummer's night in the gatehouse,

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which has the reputation for being haunted by a poltergeist.

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So, he'd come here by himself on a camp bed,

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and spend Midsummer's night here?

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He came here and he had a torch.

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-He had a West Highland terrier to...

-Uh-huh.

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..to alert him if any ghosts should appear and disturb him.

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And then, he put the light out, he stopped reading

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and he was fetched again in the dawn and taken back home,

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and my grandmother made sure that he had not been disturbed during

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the night by any spectral interventions.

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And were there any spectres that he might have seen, do you think?

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Well, the principal one is a lady called the Elle-maid.

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I'm not quite sure how she gets her name,

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but she seems to have been a very real presence

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in this castle down the centuries.

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And one of the attributes, according to tradition,

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of the Elle-maid is that she has a man's tread, a heavy man's tread.

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What about you, Lorn? Would you spend the night here?

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I don't think so.

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From what I know of the place and what I have actually heard and read,

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I think I would have to have people with me and perhaps

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a very, very good guard dog.

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It is spooky. It is very spooky.

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Out of a strange sense of bravado,

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I've decided to spend the night in the gatehouse.

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I'm doing this not to challenge the claim of the Campbell keepers of

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Dunstaffnage, but to see if it's possible to get a good night's sleep

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in such an ancient and haunted place.

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According to Lorn,

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the Elle-maid announces her presence with the sound of very heavy

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footsteps, which is bad news if you're unlucky enough to hear them,

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so I've got these earplugs

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just in case and, as an added precaution...

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..in case I see anything

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that's particularly ghoulish and disturbing,

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I've got this eye mask.

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So, time for bed.

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HE SIGHS

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I'm exhausted.

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SCREAMING VOICES

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FOOTSTEPS

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Dah!

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After a rather fitful sleep,

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I leave Dunstaffnage and its supernatural connections,

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and continue my journey eastwards up Loch Etive,

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heading to Bonawe and the village of Taynuilt,

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where I come across a little-known monument with legendary connections.

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This standing stone, curiously called the Nelson Stone,

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was the first-ever monument erected to the memory of Admiral Lord Nelson

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after his death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

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So, what, you might well ask, has a Highland village

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got to do with a one-armed, one-eyed naval hero?

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And the answer, of course, is balls.

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Cannonballs, to be precise.

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Remarkably, some of the cannonballs fired by the Royal Navy at Trafalgar

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could well have been made from iron smelted here

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on the shores of Loch Etive.

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At Bonawe are the impressive remains of an iron foundry built

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in the 18th century.

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These days, it's also a museum.

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Now, this is a rare and rather unexpected example

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of early industry in the Highlands,

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and this is a lump of iron slag,

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the waste product from the smelting process.

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It's rough and quite heavy,

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and you find it on the ground everywhere around here.

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Now, the iron ore itself actually came all the way from Cumbria,

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brought here by the ironmasters for the smelting process.

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And the reason they chose Loch Etive

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was because of this stuff - charcoal,

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which came from trees round about.

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To find out more about charcoal-making,

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which kept an army of men busy in the oak forests of Etive,

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I meet up with one of the few charcoal makers left in Scotland.

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Alasdair Eckersall is a ranger with the National Trust for Scotland.

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He combines charcoal making with woodland conservation.

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-This is a kiln?

-It is.

-A charcoal kiln?

-That's right.

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Well, I have to say, it doesn't look quite as high-tech as I imagined.

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It's basically just a big oil drum, is it not?

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It is, indeed.

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But it's higher tech than you would have come across in days gone by.

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There are certainly more advanced ways of making charcoal

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these days, right enough.

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Now, what exactly is charcoal?

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So, charcoal is just the carbon element of wood.

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If you take a piece of wood,

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and you burn it without the presence of oxygen,

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everything else in the wood will disappear,

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and you're left the carbon skeleton of that piece of wood.

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So, how do you take the oxygen out of the equation, then?

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By getting a good hot fire going in a controlled fashion.

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Using a kiln like this, we can seal out most of the air,

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just let a small amount of air in.

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The next phase of operations is to stack the kiln,

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which means that we actually have to climb inside it to lay the wood,

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which Alasdair's volunteers have prepared,

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a task that would have been familiar to charcoal makers of old.

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The charcoal-making families would have just lived in the woods.

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Some of the archive photos,

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you'll see the very basic stone and little thatched huts that they would

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build themselves in the words.

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And the whole family would live like that?

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The whole family would live there.

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The nature of charcoal-making then meant they had to be on site

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-all the time, watching their burn.

-Uh-huh.

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The team keeps feeding us with wood, and gradually the level rises.

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I'm then granted the honour of removing the centre pole

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and pouring burning embers into the space to set the fire.

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And how long will this burn for?

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This is going to burn for about 14, 15 hours.

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With the lid in place and sealed with mud,

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the burn will need to be tended carefully,

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and the airflow adjusted using four pipe chimneys

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to make sure the wood doesn't turn to ash.

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After the smoke finally clears the following morning,

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I join an anxious Alasdair

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to lift the lid on his charcoal-making skills.

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And this is the moment of truth.

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-It certainly is.

-What's inside?

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HE LAUGHS

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I thought there might just be a pile of ash!

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But that's really impressive, Alasdair, isn't it?

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-That's come away OK. Yeah.

-That is really impressive.

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That's not a bad burn. So, you can see there how the wood's kept

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-its integrity. We've still got the...

-Uh-huh.

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..the shape of the original piece of wood,

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but everything else has gone out of it,

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and we're just left with the carbon.

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You can even see the grains in the wood and the rings.

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It's really quite beautiful.

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It's almost like a work of art.

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It's amazing to think that Alasdair's charcoal-making process

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links Loch Etive to be cannonballs

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fired by Nelson's fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar.

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As mist descends over the forest, I move on,

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heading to a place that continues to make use of the area's abundant

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resources - oakwood and salmon.

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At Inverawe Smokehouse, salmon and trout are prepared daily.

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Once filleted, the fish are placed on racks to be dried and cured,

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using the age-old process of cold smoking.

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-Yes! You beauty!

-That's better.

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I help the owner, Robert Campbell-Preston,

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to load up with freshly split oak logs.

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He then introduces me to the arcane art of smoking.

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The smoke goes under the floor here,

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and then up through the kilns and out through the roof.

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-It's very simple.

-Passing through the fish on its way.

-Oh, yeah, yeah.

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Absolutely.

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So, I'll just pull this out for you.

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Then...

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Now, how you make the smoke is

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really with this little contraption down here.

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-Is that controlling the air supply?

-That controls the air.

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-Uh-huh.

-And when you're cold smoking and you don't want flame,

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-you just want smoke, every fire is different.

-Mm.

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You get to know the quirk of each fire.

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-So, lift the lid off...

-So, this is a 24/7 operation?

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Yeah.

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And the secret to good smoking, I think,

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is to keep stoking the fire every four hours.

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That's perfect. Now,

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what you need to do to make a good heart in your fire,

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what they always do is bang it.

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Bang it. Go on, bang it. That gets a good heart going.

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It puts the wood down.

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And heart to a fire is really important.

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-Now, see how it's getting...

-There's a lot of stuff out.

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Now, the smoke is increasing. Even though the lid's off, the smoke's

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-increasing...

-Uh-huh.

-..because we put fresh wood in

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and, obviously, the more...

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The fresher it is, the more smoke you get.

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And that's why it's so important that you stoke the fire

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every three to four hours.

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You love your smoke!

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Yeah, you'll love it, too! Right, lid on.

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Now, this is important to, again,

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control it, because that controls how the fire works,

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but where you place this in here matters, because,

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remember, when we are smoking,

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we mustn't let the fish get warmer than 30 degrees.

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-I'm smoking already, Robert.

-OK, push it in, push it in.

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Push it in. That's it.

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So, you must have shift work here?

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Oh, yes. 7/7, yeah.

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-We've always got somebody here.

-And the fires never go out?

0:18:580:19:01

But at night, we just stoke it down, and...

0:19:010:19:02

-Do they ever go out?

-Oh, yeah, of course they do.

0:19:020:19:06

-They do?

-Well, sometimes.

-Sometimes?

0:19:060:19:08

That's when the boss starts shouting!

0:19:080:19:10

And then starts to get angry. Why are the fires...?

0:19:100:19:13

Who let the fires go out?! You know, just like the wife at home.

0:19:130:19:16

Who let the fire go out?!

0:19:160:19:17

-You know what I mean?

-You're very passionate about this.

0:19:170:19:20

I've never heard of someone speak so passionately

0:19:200:19:23

about smoke in my life before.

0:19:230:19:25

-HE CHUCKLES

-Yeah, that's crazy, isn't it?

0:19:250:19:27

Leaving Robert in a cloud of his beloved wood smoke,

0:19:290:19:32

I bid farewell to Inverawe, taking a lovely side of smoked salmon -

0:19:320:19:37

a present for my dear old ma.

0:19:370:19:40

Back on the water, I head further up the loch,

0:19:430:19:46

in the company of Natalie Hicks,

0:19:460:19:48

a research scientist working

0:19:480:19:50

at the Scottish Association Of Marine Science.

0:19:500:19:53

Natalie has been studying the extraordinary ecosystem hidden

0:19:530:19:57

beneath the deep, dark waters of Loch Etive.

0:19:570:20:00

So, Natalie, we certainly picked the weather to be at an Loch Etive,

0:20:000:20:03

which, from a scientific point of view, is a really unique loch.

0:20:030:20:07

Yes, it is, indeed.

0:20:070:20:08

I mean, is one of 110 sea lochs that we have on the West Coast of

0:20:080:20:11

Scotland and, for scientists, this is particularly interesting,

0:20:110:20:15

because effectively we've got a marine-dominated system

0:20:150:20:17

in the lower basin here, and we've got a more freshwater-dominated

0:20:170:20:20

system in the upper basin,

0:20:200:20:22

very much like a fjord you would find in Norway.

0:20:220:20:24

So, what does that mean in terms of the marine life

0:20:240:20:27

that you might expect to find here?

0:20:270:20:29

So, we've got a few unique species in the loch.

0:20:290:20:31

Most of them you do find in the open oceans.

0:20:310:20:33

For example, we've got a Zooplankton population and a Copepod population.

0:20:330:20:37

What's that?

0:20:370:20:39

They're small organisms that feed on Phytoplankton.

0:20:390:20:43

They form the basis of the food chain.

0:20:430:20:45

There's a huge population in the loch.

0:20:450:20:46

-Really?

-It's an ideal environment for them.

-Mm-hmm.

0:20:460:20:49

So, they can tolerate the changes in salinity,

0:20:490:20:51

and there's not many predators, but there's a lot of food.

0:20:510:20:53

So, what kind of abundance are you talking about?

0:20:530:20:56

You can just scoop it out of the water?

0:20:560:20:57

You can scoop it out of the water, and it looks like a pink soup -

0:20:570:21:00

because there's so many of them,

0:21:000:21:01

it changes the colour of the water itself.

0:21:010:21:03

-I know you've got a net.

-We have got a net.

0:21:030:21:05

Are we going to do some scooping?

0:21:050:21:06

-I think we should scoop some out and see if we can catch some.

-Excellent.

0:21:060:21:10

The Zooplankton we're after form an important part of the food chain.

0:21:130:21:18

Their bodies have a very high omega oil content,

0:21:180:21:21

and it's what makes the fish that feed on them,

0:21:210:21:23

like herring and mackerel, so healthy to eat.

0:21:230:21:27

Natalie's method of catching them takes me back

0:21:270:21:30

to a happy childhood spent rock-pooling with a shrimp net,

0:21:300:21:34

although this one is considerably longer

0:21:340:21:37

and has the collection bottle at its base.

0:21:370:21:39

You don't want to lose that, now, do you?

0:21:390:21:41

No. Definitely not.

0:21:410:21:43

It's as simple as lowering the net into the depths

0:21:430:21:46

and bringing it up to the surface.

0:21:460:21:49

Here it comes!

0:21:490:21:51

-Have you got anything?

-Let's have a look.

0:21:510:21:53

Let's tip it into a bucket and see what we've got.

0:21:530:21:55

Ooh, we've got a couple of jellyfish! Look, you can see there.

0:21:580:22:01

-Is that them?

-Yup, so, all those little pinky, browny colours.

0:22:010:22:03

-The pink stuff?

-Yup. You can see them zipping around.

0:22:030:22:06

Some of them are in clumps,

0:22:060:22:07

and that's why the water's this sort of pinkish, brownish colour.

0:22:070:22:10

Looks like we got lucky and we've got two Moon jellyfish as well.

0:22:100:22:14

-Do they sting?

-These ones don't sting us. Yeah,

0:22:140:22:16

you're safe to pick these up. That's not a problem.

0:22:160:22:18

-Here you go.

-Wow. Are you sure it doesn't sting?

0:22:180:22:22

-Yeah.

-It doesn't sting. It doesn't sting, folks.

0:22:220:22:25

-You can pick them up.

-Yeah.

-But only the Moon jellyfish?

0:22:250:22:27

Yeah, only the Moon. Don't pick any of the red ones up that you see

0:22:270:22:30

around the coast, they definitely sting.

0:22:300:22:32

I'm surprised to see so many of these tiny little...

0:22:320:22:34

They look like little shrimps.

0:22:340:22:35

-They do, and they move very quickly, don't they?

-They do.

0:22:350:22:38

-Do they bite?

-They don't bite.

0:22:380:22:40

-I've never known of a Copepod to bite a human.

-Let me see.

0:22:400:22:43

-Go on.

-Ouch!

0:22:430:22:45

THEY LAUGH It got me.

0:22:450:22:47

Leaving Natalie and her Zooplankton,

0:22:520:22:55

I head up lonely Glen Etive,

0:22:550:22:57

a place which is steeped in the legends of the early Celts

0:22:570:23:01

who settled here.

0:23:010:23:02

I can see why the landscape fed into the collective mythology.

0:23:030:23:08

This is a place that excites the imagination

0:23:080:23:11

with every turn of the road,

0:23:110:23:12

which eventually emerges onto the bleak expanse of Rannoch Moor.

0:23:120:23:17

There can be few visitors who are unimpressed by the imposing

0:23:240:23:28

mountains which dominate the moor, especially Buachaille Etive Mor

0:23:280:23:32

behind me, which translates from the Gaelic

0:23:320:23:35

as the "big herdsman of Etive".

0:23:350:23:37

To fully appreciate the epic scale of the Buachaille,

0:23:450:23:48

which, I have to say, is my favourite mountain

0:23:480:23:51

in the whole of Scotland,

0:23:510:23:53

I'm meeting up with Murray Wilkie,

0:23:530:23:55

who specialises in taking extraordinary mountain photographs.

0:23:550:24:00

His secret is to capture them in the magical light of dawn, sunset,

0:24:000:24:05

or both. But to do this, he goes to exceptional lengths.

0:24:050:24:09

I'm joining him on a trek to the summit of a hill

0:24:110:24:14

overlooking the Buachaille.

0:24:140:24:16

The plan is to camp at altitude.

0:24:160:24:18

So, what's the idea behind this high-level camping, Murray?

0:24:190:24:23

Well, it's the views you get, I think.

0:24:230:24:26

The sunsets and the sunrises.

0:24:260:24:27

When you get them, you just can't beat it.

0:24:270:24:30

It's the best light. You get great views, but when you get the light,

0:24:300:24:32

-it's just amazing.

-It's a real privilege to be up here.

0:24:320:24:36

I'm not quite so sure about the privilege of camping up here.

0:24:360:24:39

LAUGHTER

0:24:390:24:40

-We'll have to see how that goes.

-Well, let's see. There it is.

0:24:400:24:44

-The sunshine.

-That's what we want.

-Yeah.

0:24:440:24:47

That's what we're chasing.

0:24:470:24:48

I think we might get a view in a minute, the view we've not seen.

0:24:480:24:51

It's getting spectacular with every step.

0:24:550:24:58

Or more spectacular with every step.

0:24:580:25:00

Look at that. Isn't it just...?

0:25:000:25:01

Some people wonder why you come to the mountains,

0:25:010:25:03

and you don't really know until you get into these positions, do you?

0:25:030:25:08

Such an impressive view, Murray.

0:25:080:25:10

-It's not bad, is it?

-Ben Nevis in front of us, look.

0:25:100:25:12

Yes. You can make out its north face and the moors in front of that.

0:25:120:25:17

-The Ossians over there.

-That's right.

0:25:170:25:19

And then, if you go further round, you can see Ben Alder,

0:25:190:25:22

and right round to Schiehallion again.

0:25:220:25:25

And in front of us, we've got this great chasm.

0:25:250:25:27

The beginning of Glencoe.

0:25:270:25:29

Sunset, which is what we've come for, isn't too far away.

0:25:330:25:37

But there's still time to put up the tent and have a blether before the

0:25:370:25:40

magic hour arrives.

0:25:400:25:43

It's the first serious mountain I ever claimed.

0:25:430:25:45

-Oh, really?

-When I was a wee boy. Yeah. I was about 13 or 14.

0:25:450:25:49

And I was scared rigid.

0:25:490:25:51

-A curved ridge in early December.

-Right.

0:25:510:25:55

Snow and ice, and I was dragged up there kicking and screaming.

0:25:550:25:58

But I loved it!

0:25:580:25:59

I absolutely loved it. And we got to this summit as the sun was going

0:25:590:26:03

down, so the way, watching the sun go down behind the Buachaille is

0:26:030:26:06

-kind of reliving that.

-Yeah, yeah.

0:26:060:26:08

Have you got any favourite mountains that you've climbed and managed to

0:26:080:26:11

-capture the essence of?

-Yes.

-In your photography and your videos?

0:26:110:26:15

Yeah, I think the one that stands out, I think,

0:26:150:26:19

I did a wild camp on top of Beinn Alligin, which is up in Torridon.

0:26:190:26:24

It was getting dark. I looked outside back at the summit,

0:26:240:26:26

and I saw a wee flash. Somebody's out taking pictures already.

0:26:260:26:29

So I thought, "Right, I'll get out", and I started taking the

0:26:290:26:32

pictures, and as I scan north,

0:26:320:26:34

I took a picture, looking, you can just see...

0:26:340:26:36

You couldn't see it with the naked eye, because it was still quite

0:26:360:26:39

light, but there was a wee band of green,

0:26:390:26:40

and as the night progressed, the lights became visible to the...

0:26:400:26:43

-The Northern lights?

-The Northern Lights. Aurora borealis,

0:26:430:26:46

yeah, became... You know, you often see them on the cameras,

0:26:460:26:49

but you can't see them with the naked eye.

0:26:490:26:51

This is only one of three times I've seen them with the naked eye,

0:26:510:26:54

and the only time I've seen them on top of the mountain.

0:26:540:26:57

It was spectacular, though?

0:26:570:26:58

-Oh, it was amazing.

-It's strange, though, because,

0:26:580:27:01

doing what we're doing, it's... Well, the way that you do it,

0:27:010:27:04

is essentially a very solitary pastime.

0:27:040:27:06

But you're not a solitary person.

0:27:060:27:08

-Well...

-Do you come up here to contemplate,

0:27:080:27:10

do you feel because you're high somehow,

0:27:100:27:13

you know, you're on the summit of the gods,

0:27:130:27:15

looking down on the rest of humanity?

0:27:150:27:17

-No!

-Because we are! We see the cars driving past down there on the A82.

0:27:170:27:21

-Yeah.

-Tiny wee things.

0:27:210:27:22

-And we're up here.

-For me, personally,

0:27:220:27:25

not that I'm not enjoying your company tonight,

0:27:250:27:27

but I do like it when I'm by myself and I don't meet another soul.

0:27:270:27:30

There's something...

0:27:300:27:31

You appreciate things as well,

0:27:320:27:34

I think, when you do go back, back home.

0:27:340:27:37

-It's a bit zen.

-Yeah, well, absolutely.

-A bit of zen.

0:27:370:27:40

A bit of meditation, maybe, yeah.

0:27:400:27:43

But look at it. I mean, you can't argue with that, can you?

0:27:430:27:46

We are exceptionally lucky.

0:27:500:27:52

The clouds have kept away,

0:27:520:27:54

allowing the dying rays of the setting sun to catch the Buachaille.

0:27:540:28:00

The great herdsman of Etive looks very imposing now,

0:28:000:28:03

as I take a photograph

0:28:030:28:05

to capture the essence of my favourite mountain.

0:28:050:28:08

Now, this has definitely been worth waiting for.

0:28:090:28:12

Because I've never seen the Buachaille in this light before.

0:28:120:28:15

He looks truly epic, a real giant,

0:28:150:28:19

making this the perfect place for me to end my grand tour among the

0:28:190:28:24

legends of the west.

0:28:240:28:26

My next grand tour takes me to the far north-west,

0:28:300:28:34

exploring both above and below the waves.

0:28:340:28:36

Paul Murton explores the wilds of Loch Etive, from the spectacular tidal race of the Falls of Lora, where kayakers revel in the overfalls and ride a three-metre standing wave, to high-altitude camping on a hill opposite Buchaille Etive More, watching the sunset, and lights up the hundreds of lochans across Rannoch Moor.


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