This year is all about celebrating the very best of Scotland’s Coasts and Waters – from our natural environment and wildlife, history and cultural heritage, to activities and adventure, and food and drink. Whilst we’re all staying at home, our beautiful waters, rivers and seas still continue to flow and can still inspire creativity, wellness and virtual exploration.
There are lots of ways to stay connected with our natural seascapes and waterways across Scotland through the wonders of technology and virtual experiences which can transport you from the comfort of your home. Everything from arts, music, culture, educational tools to help with home-schooling and activities, wildlife and culinary ideas are a great way to keep inspired, entertained and mindful while engaging with Scotland’s rich coastal and inland water heritage.
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DIVE INTO THE ARTS
Scottish waterscapes have always been a source of artistic inspiration, and thankfully artists, performers and musicians have adapted their work for the digital age. From photography to poetry, there is plenty of cultural activity online to keep you in touch with the Year of Coasts and Waters.
Following the success of StAnza, Scotland's International Poetry Festival, in early March, it is continuing to celebrate water with a digital installation. Publishing one poem a day from its Coast Lines project, it brings together poets from Scotland and Scandinavia, responding to the seas and water around them.
Feel inspired by this theme? Get creative whilst you #StayAtHome and submit a ‘tile’ to the Northern Lights Festival, run by Lyth Arts Centre. All you need to do is make a five-inch square piece of artwork which will be put together as a Marine Mosaic. The end result will be displayed as part of the festival later this year.
To celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters, a selection of images from Historic Environment Scotland’s (HES) ‘Harnessing the Power of Water’ exhibition will now be available online. The exhibition explores early watermills, spa resorts, fountains, the construction of hydroelectric schemes and much more, drawing on historic photographic collections, manuscripts and drawings and modern digital photography from HES’s archives. To view the exhibition which will be live later this month, visit: www.canmore.org.uk
For junior artists try the North Link Ferries colouring sheet, drawn up especially to celebrate our coastal connection. Share your masterpiece on its Facebook channel as part of the Selkie Story Colouring Competition, with a surprise goody bag prize for the best entries! The Scottish Coastal Rowing Society also have a colouring sheet of their skiff, available to accompany its Virtual RowAround Scotland. Maid of the Loch, Loch Lomond's only Paddle Steamer, has also launched a ‘Rainbows and Reflections’ competition, challenging entrants to come up with their best rainbow above a special place near water pictures for a virtual exhibition. This isn’t the only creative competition going online, though.
For the more-musically oriented, use your time in isolation to listen to some of the amazing live music produced in Scotland. The Nevis Ensemble – whose June performances, as part of the Year of Coasts and Waters programme, have been postponed – has brought its celebration of our natural environment online with the musician’s Musical Postcards project. The orchestra is asking members of the public to share photos, paintings, poems and stories to demonstrate their own love of Scotland’s islands, rivers, lochs and sea. Their composers will then use this as the inspiration for a new piece of music to be broadcast online, so get your submissions in by 20 April to be in with a chance of seeing your work included.
Scottish National Heritage (SNH) is also inviting musicians of all genres to compose new music as part of a high-profile national composition and song writing project called 'In Tune with Nature'. To celebrate Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, artists aged 16+ are invited to write new music inspired by one of ten National Nature Reserves (NNRs) across the country featured in a short video. Entrants should submit the following by the 31st May deadline. Make sure you also check out SNH’s beautiful Message in a Bottle video for inspiration, with traditional music by Ingrid Henderson and animation by Cat Bruce, and fall into another world.
Feisean nan Gaidheal, an organisation that supports the development of community-based Gaelic arts tuition festivals throughout Scotland, is also continuing to participate in the themed year, with weekly Twitter postssharing their music. Follow them @fngaidheal. GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF VITAMIN SEA
Just because we’re staying at home doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the new sights and sounds of spring, thanks to plenty of web cameras across the country showcasing Scotland’s stunning nature and wildlife. Keep in touch with the North Sea with live footage from Shetland, including scenes from the harbour and epic views from the island cliffs – you may even be able to spot a puffin or two if you’re lucky! This is also a great time of year to see the fish-eating Osprey – get right into their nest with a live cam from the Woodland Trust in the ancient Caledonian pine forest by Loch Arkaig in the Highlands. Or see them on Loch of the Lowes in Perthshire, thanks to the Scottish Wildlife Trust. Scottish Natural Heritage are also #bringingnaturetoyou via their Twitter feed everyday at 1pm with a wildlife moment @nature_scot.
Recognising the benefits of being by the coast for our mental wellbeing, the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is bringing the ocean indoors with a number of online resources. Engaging in ocean optimism on social media, the charity is sharing the sights and sounds of the sea for people to enjoy and escape to whilst in lockdown via #OceanIndoors, alongside helpful tips on how to keep engaged with the ocean from afar. MCS will also be launching a webinar series as part of its Cool Seas work with topics ranging from ‘Going Plastic Free’ and ‘Aliens of the Deep’, to engage young people with whilst schools are closed.
Make sure you check out VisitScotland’s overview of web cams across the country to add to your watery wildlife fix. It includes the Loch Morlich Watersports webcam in the Cairngorms, the Seacroft Marine webcam at Aberdeen Harbour and the great view of Oban from the lighthouse webcam to name just a few. THE SOUND OF SEASCAPES
Launched last month, VisitScotland’s Sounds of Scotland offers the perfect backing-track for your working from home environment, or switch off and meditate with these sets of soothing acoustics inspired by Scotland’s landscape and wildlife. Whether it’s the rushing Corra Linn waterfall, or the hypnotic rhythm of the North Sea at Kinnaird Head Castle Lighthouse, these sounds immerse the senses and transport you virtually into their scenic getaways.
Delve deeper into Scotland with the 100,000 welcomes podcast, hosted by Neil Roberstson from Travels with a Kilt. Topics to keep you connected with Scotland’s coasts and waters include features on wild swimming in Loch Morlich, whisky tasting at Clydeside Distillery and the rejuvenation of Scottish seafood with an interview from fishmonger Stuart Wilson. Nature, culture, adventure, food and film inspire the episodes of the podcast, so there’s something for everyone to keep in touch with Scotland whilst day-dreaming from home. IMMERSE YOURSELF
For those itching to see the sea again, make sure you check out Sail Scotland’s 360-degree virtual reality experience. The videos have been shot in seven places along the west coast and in the north and puts you directly in the middle of the action!
You can also step into Scotland with the incredible new Augmented Reality app, Portal AR. The app allows you to go travelling from the safety of your home, with 360-degree experiences to directly connect you with our coasts and waters. You can ride a motorbike along the iconic North Coast 500 route, see first-hand inside a whisky distillery and much more! Whilst you’re stuck at home there is nothing to stop you dreaming about and immersing yourself in all that Scotland’s natural landscapes has to offer. The volunteers at Save Wemyss Ancient Caves Society (SWACS) have come up with a way to share the experience of touring the caves without anyone having to leave their house. It’s Wemyss Caves 4D website allows anyone to navigate their own tour of the caves online, but the big idea is to use the 3D models of the caves to give you the full live guided-tour experience. Via Facebook @SaveWemyssAncientCavesSociety, the SWACS guide will take you inside the caves and shine a virtual torch on the carvings while explaining lots of interesting historical detail. There will also be assistants on hand waiting to answer your questions on Facebook Chat. DEEPEN YOUR KNOWLEDGE
Whether you’re keeping little ones entertained or looking to stimulate your own brain cells, there are plenty of activities and programmes online to help the inquisitive learn about Scotland’s coastlines, wildlife, food and more. The Royal Life-Saving Society has created online tools to teach kids about water safety, with activity sheets, games and quizzes to keep it fun and interactive. Marine Scotland also have lots of educational ideas online, including their fishy facts, Lego vessels, pirate crosswords and more. Meanwhile, although it won’t be going ahead as planned this year, the Edinburgh Science Festival has launched a digital #EdSciFest. Sticking with its original ‘Elementary’ theme, keep your eyes peeled for online entertainment, curated articles, and downloadable resources covering all your Science Festival favourites from 04-19 April. In particular, check out the ‘Pale Blue Dot: Water for Life’ for some exciting materials, diving into our relationship with rivers and oceans and why they need protecting. Cook your way around Scotland with this handy eBook on some of the best produce, recipes and history of cuisine across the country. Learn about the legendary Arbroath Smokies and get inspired by the seafood or whisky trail. Why not also immerse yourself in Scotland’s thriving gin scene, joining a virtual cocktail club with Boë Gin, finding new recipes with Edinburgh Gin, taking an online class with Pixel Spirits or hang out with the folks at Brewdog at their online bar – packed with online events.
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