About me

Welcome to my blog. I’m Sheila, although some of you may know me from various discussion forums as swanscot/swan-scot.


I have a great passion for our countryside, especially here in the Highlands of Scotland.  I am most at home in the hills, but also wander the glens by mountain bike and occasionally explore our lochs by kayak.

My wonderful husband, Neil is my chief walking, biking and camping partner. Many of the photos on this blog are his (he has such a nice model! ;-))  He tends to shoot the wide landscapes, while I’m often to be found lying on my belly photographing wee plants, mosses, lichens or insects. I spend many hours trying to identify all the flora and fauna I see, but there’s so much to learn!



ps My Profile Page photo is taken on Cul Mor in NW Sutherland. The full picture can be see here and shows the neighbouring hill of Stac Pollaidh.

A Man in Assynt
Glaciers, grinding West, gouged out
these valleys, rasping the brown sandstone,
and left, on the hard rock below — the
ruffled foreland —
this frieze of mountains, filed
on the blue air — Stac Polly,
Cul Beag, Cul Mor, Suilven,
Canisp — a frieze and
a litany.

Who owns this landscape?
has owning anything to do with love?
For it and I have a love-affair, so nearly human
we even have quarrels. —
When I intrude too confidently
it rebuffs me with a wind like a hand
or puts in my way
a quaking bog or a loch
where no loch should be. Or I turn stonily
away, refusing to notice
the rouged rocks, the mascara
under a dripping ledge, even
the tossed, the stony limbs waiting.

(from A Man in Assynt – Norman McCaig)

15 comments on “About me

  1. A stunning spot on the photo above Sheila, where was it taken?

    I hope that whoever took the shot was not saying, “back a bit more” as you are pretty close to the edge!

  2. James, you reminded me I was going to add the location of my header and About Me page photos. I’ve now done so and as you can see these were taken on a lovely day on Cul Mor.

    The photographer was my hubby, Neil and far from him saying “Back a bit more” I often scare him because I stand a bit too close to the edge. I enjoy the feeling of exposure!

  3. Jings I’m new to Book Crossing and never thought of releases in bothies or trig-points..
    I haven’t been up any mountains of late but I do visit the odd bothy down here in Lochaber.
    I’m just getting started and need to get the bits n’ pieces to start. Like the web-site.
    Thanks for dropping a line.
    Slainthe Mhath Lachie Mor

  4. Hello! Wonderful photos, have come across them by accident. I’m getting in touch to ask whether it would it be possible for me to make a couple of your photos from Flickr available on the Internet? I am involved with a relatively new nonprofit organization, the Friends of Cochituate State Park, just west of Boston in the U.S. We have a Web site, http://www.friendsofcsp.org, and a companion group on Facebook, Friends of Cochitutate State Park (you’re welcome to join). The Friends have two mascots/ambassadors, river otters named Ollie and Olivia, representative of the otters who live in the park. I am endeavoring to educate people about the wonders of otters, and have been encouraging people to learn about Gavin Maxwell, read his Ring of Brigh Water trilogy, and of course enjoy the film of the same name. Thanks to you I have come across on Flickr a couple marvelous photos of the grave markers of Mr. Maxwell and the otter Edal, and am wondering whether it would be ok to include your wonderful photos in the photos area of the Friends group. If it’s not ok I will certainly understand.
    Best regards,
    Chris Maietta
    6 Pesce Drive
    Wayland, MA 01778

  5. Can you tell me when the pics of Teanacoil sawmill were taken please? I was up there on Sunday (18/10/09) and it’s completely overgrown. In 1979 I actually drove my company car up the track looking for Teanacoil Riding Centre. Now the bridge over the burn has a Keep Out Danger notice on it. There is a mound of sawdust which has turned to red mud but still defying vegetation!

  6. Dear Swanscot,

    catching “The English Patient” back in 2007, I have become a delighted BookCrossing fan and member!
    I have just written a note about our last BC meet-up in Ravensburg (southern Germany) last Saturday and went through my books – and everytime I look at the very first, well, it takes me to you!
    Together with my husband we took a memorable trip to Scottland in 2007, leading us all around the coast and making me falling in love with this part of the world. And the journey was for me a big stepstone within my fondness for books (my mum has taught me reading when I was 4, I grew up in Black Africain the 70ies and 80ies without TV and therefore with many many books!), because it has lead me to BookCrossing and to a very active and nice group here in Southern Germany.
    So, I just want to say a heartly thank you to you, Swanscot!!! Keep on discovering the world, letting books free and allowing others to follow the tracks!
    All the best & a big hug from Germany,

  7. Hi Swanscot, discovered your blog from a mutual flickr contact, although Im not using flickr at the moment.
    Have subscribed as it seems you get about a lot of familiar places to me.
    Oh, and I’ve stolen/borrowed/plagiarised your wee note on advertising… hope you dont mind =)


  8. Hi David and welcome. Feel free to use the advertising bit; I didn’t write it but got it from a helpful person on the WordPress forum who was willing to share his words.

    • Hi Andy, sorry about the delay in replying.

      Could you please email me at swanscot @ fastmail dot net

      Could you tell me exactly which photo – post the link, if it’s one that takes you to my Flickr account -and what you wish the photo for.

      BTW the old derelict building is now demolished.

  9. Hi Sheila,

    I have commented on your blog of the Canadian Forestry Corps in the past, but I would love to reference your observations of the site ( from your blog) in my PhD. However, I am having trouble in finding your full name to credit you. If this is ok, I would appreciate it.

    Best Wishes

  10. Sheila

    Fabulous images! I’m researching a possible Beauly to Applecross Charity Challenge and would love some advice, if possible?

    I’ve provided my details in the info box…hope to hear from you soon!

    Much appreciated!!


  11. Sheila, thanks for making me aware of Bookcrossing and for posting vivid photos of your adventures. My wife and I are headed to Assynt in late September. Do you have any tips as to hikes and must see places in Assynt and surrounding area? Much thanks for any recommendations. Brian

  12. David, I love Assynt and in fact have just returned from climbing Suilven last Thursday/Friday. I’ve not written a blog post, but you can see our photos on my Flickr account here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swan-scot/sets/72157655023192840

    We walked in from Inverkirkaig to the south of Suilven, but it was a very boggy, muddy walk. I’ve previously walked from the north starting at Glencanisp Lodge, near Lochinver. That route is easier as you follow a track initially. I’ve shared a few pictures here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swan-scot/sets/72157594444524673

    Other hills in the area I’d recommend are

    Conival and Ben More Assynt: https://www.flickr.com/photos/swan-scot/sets/72157600322716676

    Cul Mor: https://swanscot.wordpress.com/2011/11/23/a-man-in-assynt/

    Cul Beag: https://swanscot.wordpress.com/2011/04/25/cul-beag-a-good-friday-walk/

    I’d recommend stopping at the Geopark interpretation display at Knockan Crag, just south of Elphin on the A835.

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