Out And About: Over The Hills And Far Away . . .


out and about

In the latest in our “Out And About” series, we’re following in the footsteps of Feature’s team’s Marion.


There’s a small mountain range between my home and the “Friend” office. Driving back each day, cresting the highest point on the road and seeing the valley below basking in the evening sunshine never fails to bring a feeling of peace.

It’s a view I’ve missed since we’ve been working from home.

The evening sunshine is still beckoning to me, though. It’s a great time for the daily walk.

Listen . . .

I’m lucky — I can head out in virtually any direction and be in the countryside in just a few minutes, so there are several routes I’ve been enjoying recently.

All of them take in farmland, wooded areas and, of course, the river. There’s almost no traffic on the road, so the sound of the birds singing their little heads off almost drowns out the babbling of water over the stony bed.

The quack from a sunbathing duck comes over loud and clear, though!

out and about

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

I’d love to be like Chris Packham, able to identify umpteen bird species by sound alone.

But I’m still happy to be able to pick out woodpigeon, blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, the rooks in the nearby rookeries and — my favourites — the oystercatchers who migrate here in spring for our lovely Scottish summers.

out and about

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

Heading up the hill, a pair flew right overhead, calling joyfully, off into a cloudless sky, and far too fast for me to catch them with my camera.

Trying to snap them did have the effect of making me pause long enough to hear an intermittent tapping from a copse off to my left.

Could it be a woodpecker?

out and about

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

I had to wait until back at the computer (hands washed) to check online. It was. That’s the first time I’ve heard one “live”!

Flowers of Scotland

out and about

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

There’s always something to see, particularly at this time of year.

Appropriately, on the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth, banks of daffodils bloomed mightily along roadsides and woodland paths alike.

They’re lasting well, too. Still making a good show, with the forget-me-nots and bluebells are coming in alongside.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

Here’s something pretty and pink by the roadside.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

I haven’t a clue what it is, but it’s lovely.

The woods are also full of wild garlic just now. Not quite in flower yet, but give it a week or two and the unmistakable scent will be strong enough to swim through!

Four-legged friends

Normally, you’d meet plenty of dogwalkers on these walks, but at the moment there are fewer around.

So it was good to say hello to Charlie the schnauzer and his owner, Heather, while they paused for a photo at a socially responsible distance.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

The lambs are getting used to conversations, too. They’re growing so quickly.

Only a couple of weeks ago they were tiny little newborns. Now they’re out and about; skipping around, giving their mums cheek, and refusing to hold still for my camera.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

Bridge over crystal water

Heading towards the bridge in the town, the sun glints off the water.

Look down; it’s so clear.

There are probably a fair few salmon hiding among those stones, but they’re so well camouflaged they’re impossible to see until they move.

And with those seagulls perched over on the weir, waiting their chance [circled], they probably won’t be doing that any time soon!

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

The water level is quite low at the moment, so, over the road, the salmon ladder is easy to see. The fish need that in the autumn when the river flows deep and fast.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

Thinking of autumn reminds me of the office. There it is, look, over those hills and far away.

Waiting for the day when we’re back there in person.

Photograph by Marion McGivern.

Until then, we’ll carry on bringing you the “Friend” from our various locations, and hope that you’ll enjoy coming out and about with us on our virtual walks!

For more from the team, read our blog here.

Marion McGivern

As editor of the cookery, money, pets, know how and talking point pages, Marion covers wide a range of regular Features content. Along with the rest of the Team, she enjoys finding interesting features for both the weekly and Special issues that readers will love. Having so much variety every day means that over ten years with the “Friend” has just flown by!