The summer before I went to university, I was taken by a parent on a world tour of Scotland. The mission was simple: know your own country before you seek to learn about others. It was a real education.
This summer I’ve been fortunate to experience some of the best scenery, and indeed weather, Scotland has to offer. The whitest sand and the bluest of seas in Southern Harris, the depth of forests and lochs across the Trossachs and rolling fishing villages of the East Neuk. The beauty of it all is breath-taking and I’m so proud of the country I call home. But are we doing it proud?
Sadly in so many beautiful places across our land I feel like a trick has been missed. The food stops are expensive and dated. Edinburgh’s attitude to the status of your tea is writ large across the customer service and the public realm is a disgrace. Over-flowing rubbish bins, disappearing public loos and poor signage.
On the walk from St Monans to Elie in Fife you’ll find Newark Castle, a dramatic ruin hanging on a cliff edge. It’s the stuff Instagram accounts are made of – which is good because you need a smartphone to Google what it is. It just sits there with a metal grill frame across the front – not an educational sign in sight.
Why do we neglect so many of the natural assets that make this country so great? Is the nonchalant ‘take it or leave it’ approach a deliberate strategy? Or do we just not care? The truth is that our great country is just so beautiful we’re getting away with it, but that doesn’t make it right.