My work includes feature writing, news stories, radio programmes and packages, radio interviews and contributing to TV productions, mostly centred around land, outdoors and environmental topics.
There’s been plenty going on recently – I’ve now done at least eight features, stories and radioÂ tapes about Scotland’s beavers. The latest was forÂ CBC in Canada,Â and it’s here:
The problems of over-tourism in the age of social media have also featured, with packages for BBC Radio Scotland on Finnich Glen, made famous by Outlander, and for BBC R4’s Farming Today on the same topic:
There’s also been a longer audio documentary to coincide with the publication of a hard-hitting new policy by the Scotland’s environmental NGOs on the fraught subject of deer management, a topic being scrutinised now after a major report to Government ministers.
On a related topic, my piece on the battle to protect and expand Scotland’s last remaining fragments of rainforest was published inÂ Scotland’s Herald magazine.
Iâ€™m an experienced radio producer and reporter.
Here’s a piece I made for Dan Damon’s programme on the BBC World Service, about the incredible buyout of the island of Ulva:
That was one of a series of broadcast pieces, as well as written articles, about Ulva. For Radio Scotland I kicked off with this:
I had the pleasure to be BBCÂ Radio Scotland’sÂ man on the spot for the celebrations marking the buyout too:
BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today has been using my material too. Here’s one about the reintroduction of the sea eagle on Scotland’s west coast:
This piece was for BBC Radio Scotland on basking sharks:
… this on the coming new laws on beaver protection for BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, and Radio Scotland:
… and this forÂ Radio Scotland on the redevelopment of the King’s House Hotel, in the world-famous landscape of Glen Coe/Rannoch Moor.
A few years ago I made a radio documentary for BBC Radio Scotland about the Ardroy outdoor education centreâ€™s revival as a social enterprise, Saving Ardroy, and wrote about making the programme here,Â Ardroy BBC feature
In 2016 I revisited my friends there and reported on it for Radio Scotlandâ€™s Good Morning Scotland programme below
I had earlier made a short documentary about Lyme Disease for BBC Radio Scotland.
In 2015 I joined a unique archaeological dig to investigate the mystery of Scotlandâ€™s vitrified hill-forts, and reported on it for BBC Radio Scotlandâ€™s Newsdrive programme.
In AugustÂ 2016, I made another tape on the dig, this time for BBC Radio Scotland’s Out for the weekend programme, on which I have previously guested.
In 2016 BBC 1 in Scotland showed the two-part television documentary Lady Lairds, about women breaking the mould and running large estates in the Scottish Highlands. I helped develop this idea with production company Friel Kean and carried out the research to set it up. You can see clips from the programmes here:Â Lady Lairds clips
I also developed the idea for Friel Keaneâ€™s one-off documentary The Foodbank, shown on BBC1 in 2015.
Scotland’s beavers officially became a “native species” with full legal protection, the first and so far only official large mammal reintroduction ever in the UK, in May 2019, despite the main population of 500-plus in and around the Tay catchment being the result of illegal reintroduction or escapes.
Reaching that point has beenÂ a fascinating process to catalogue, first inÂ May 2017 when The Herald magazine published my study ofÂ the problems and opportunities around the animals -Â Gnaw DealÂ .
I catalogued the long struggle to get them protected statusÂ for the Ferret investigative websiteÂ here, and thenÂ when the law was finally changed toÂ give them protected status,Â I gave aÂ rounded view for The NationalÂ here.
Later in 2019 I took a lighter look at theÂ arrival of a solo animalÂ on the Bonnie Banks for the Sunday Post – you can’t ignaw those headlines, and I’d say I’m the country’s top beaver journalist – what an accolade!
On the community land front I’ve looked at repeoplingÂ hereÂ for the Herald magazine. For the same publication I spentÂ four slightly woozy days at seaÂ on a cetacean survey, and brought together the plastic and anti-plastic lobbies for a fascinating look atÂ the truth behind plastic outrage.
For the new Herald on Sunday I’m developing a niche writing about environmental issues, with a look at the whole debate overÂ development in the HighlandsÂ and the rewilding debate, withÂ newsÂ andÂ analysis.
I’ve also had some fun with archaeology, looking atÂ the fabulous Cochno stones, for the Post
Everyone’s doing the North Coast 500 – including me. In summer 2017 I took a look at the economic and social impact of the route that’s caught on massively among tourists both from the UK and abroad for the Herald magazine in a two-part study, part IÂ hereÂ and part IIÂ here.
Community land buyouts are going to be news for some time in Scotland, with Â£40m Government cash heading their way, and it’s a topic I am learning a great deal about and making some good connections with. I gotÂ a good show in the Sunday Herald in October 2016 with the latest figures and developments in theÂ land reform world Â …The New Land Rush, and have since written about the Wanlockhead buyout for The National.
In August 2016 my article on the 20th anniversary of the launch of the Eigg community buyout was published:Â Future Island.
These Herald magazine pieces are the latest in a stringÂ of articles on outdoors and environmental issues for the Glasgow-based newspaper supplement.
I started in 2009 with a study of deer management on the vast Glenfeshie estate:Â Zero Tolerance.
Other features included a look at how invasive rhododendrons had been cleared from the Knoydart peninsula:Â Highland Chainsaw massacreÂ I have since investigated the rhododendron invasion further for the Sunday Herald and Scottish Wildlife Trust magazine â€“ it is a huge and worrying problem.
I detailed plans for Scotland first gold mine of the modern era, at Tyndrum:Â Highland Gold Rush.
I linked up with the SAS – Surfers Against Sewage â€“ to look at their campaigning, centring on a drive to clean up Pease Bay in East Lothian.Â Surfers against sewage.
IÂ also wrote about salmon farming,Â Salmon Farming: Your money or your sealife?Â the problems of the Assynt Foundation community land buyout,Â Empty Promises,Â and the 10th anniversary of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National ParkÂ The Park versus The People?
InÂ 2009 I stumbled across a piece of the living social history, and wrote about it for the Herald MagazineÂ Kings Of The Road. The men I wrote about then have become good friends.
After that I was fascinated by the outdoors movement of the 1930s that gave birth to the world of outdoor pursuits we now know, and went on to document the life of the Craigallian Fire and its great legacy.Â The Men Who Made The Outdoors Great
I wrote about the nearby historicÂ Carbeth HutsÂ and the successful bid of the tenants to buy the land on which they stand.
I regularly write for the Scottish Wildlife Trust magazine. The isle of Eigg, where the Trust helps manage the landscape, has become a favourite since this visit:Â Eigg, wildlife islandÂ Other topics covered for SWT include basking sharks and deer management.
I keep up the outdoors flavour with travel writing. This piece about the wonderful Comrie Croft mountain biking centre was for the Herald magazine.Â Mountain bike heaven: Comrie Croft
I have written for Scotland Outdoors magazine on topics including the problems of visitor numbers on Ben Nevis.Â Ben Nevis, the Highlands’ biggest visitor attraction
AÂ recent feature was a bit of a departure and stemmed from my involvement in my local community:Â Hammer Time: Scotland’s men’s shed movement
For six months I wrote a blog about the food bank where I have volunteered for the Herald website:Â Tales From The Food Bank
In pevious years I have spent Christmas Days helping serve lunches at the food bank, and wrote about it for the Sunday Herald:Â Christmas Day in the Foodbank