Packraft Camp at Whiteness Head – March’s Outdoor Sleep

Posted by on Mar 28, 2017 in Camp, Climate, Earth, East Highlands | No Comments
Packraft Camp at Whiteness Head – March’s Outdoor Sleep

I’m now at 25 months of sleeping outdoors at least once a month. One might imagine that it would get easier after two years, but I still experience an inbuilt resistance to leaving my warm house and comfortable bed for the dark unknown.  Even when my logical mind knows that I am bound for a pleasant […]

This Green Winter Bivvy is a Sign of Things To Come

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Bivvy, Climate, Commentary, East Highlands | No Comments
This Green Winter Bivvy is a Sign of Things To Come

This month I have a bit of climate chat for you. As you can see from the accompanying photo of my ice-encrusted bivvy bag, my January sleep was chilly but not particularly wintery. Not only is there no snow at my bivvy spot, there is barely a scrap of the white stuff to be seen […]

Why open plan offices amplify existential angst

Posted by on Jan 8, 2015 in Commentary, Productivity, Science | No Comments
Why open plan offices amplify existential angst

Ever get the uneasy feeling that your life might be sliding past in an undifferentiated grey mass? It probably is: the machinery of the brain conspires with the open plan office to make modern work an unsettling, unmemorable experience. The brain’s internal GPS and the grey fog of similarity I recently listened to Grandmaster of […]

A watery future? Sea level will rise by 25 metres, eventually

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Climate, Earth | 2 Comments
A watery future? Sea level will rise by 25 metres, eventually

David Hume wrote in 1777 that “all inferences from experience suppose … that the future will resemble the past”.  This is a natural human tendency and a pretty good rule of thumb, but it has its limitations. Take the example of sea level. It has altered very little in the last 6,000 years, the period during […]

Bog wood: the Caledonian forest and climate change

Posted by on Apr 20, 2012 in Books, Climate, Human Origins, Landscape | 3 Comments

Exposed bogwood on the shores of the channel between Loch Bad an Sgalaig and Dubh Loch, near Gairloch Anyone who has wandered the Scottish hills must have at some point been perplexed by the presence of bog wood, preserved tree stumps with radiating roots that protrude from the peat in what appear nowadays to be […]


Posted by on Mar 21, 2012 in Camp, Northwest Highlands, Science | 2 Comments

The Cuillin of Skye from near Applecross   After a series of weekends that have been spent close to home it was a delight to spend a cracking weekend at Applecross, amid great seascapes bordered by the pyramids of Skye and the mesas of Raasay.  It was a weekend that blended novelty and familiarity, time […]

A brief history of Scotland up to 1000 BC

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012 in Human Origins, Landscape | 4 Comments

 Ice age Earth at glacial maximum. Based on: “Ice age terrestrial carbon changes revisited” by Thomas J. Crowley (Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 9, 1995, pp. 377-389 I spent part of the Christmas break reading ‘The Scots: A Genetic Journey’ by Alistair Moffat and James F. Wilson. In this excellent book Moffat and Wilson review the recent […]

Renewable energy – could tidal power supply all the UK’s electricity?

Posted by on Apr 6, 2011 in Climate, Commentary, Science | 4 Comments

I seem to spend an increasing amount of time engaged in debates with my work colleagues about renewable energy. Usually we exchange a few half-remembered and unverified ‘facts’ until two or more clearly contradictory statements emerge, at which point we retreat from the topic, muttering about checking facts and getting  to the bottom of the matter […]

Does it make any difference if we object to wind power developments ?

Posted by on Mar 28, 2011 in Climate, Commentary, Science | 3 Comments

Loch Ness from Lochend beach I am rapidly coming to the dismaying conclusion – based on the recent approval of the vigorously opposed Corriemollie scheme – that an increase in blood pressure is the only thing likely to be gained from the opposition of wind farm developments. As a consequence of the no doubt well-intentioned […]

Prehistoric bothy trips

Kiloran Bay, Colonsay. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of large scale hazlenut processing by mesolithic hunter-gatherers I’ve always been more interested in prehistory than in history. Up until quite recently there has been very little reading matter on the topic, however  recent advances in science are allowing us to build up a far more complete picture […]