THE last question on Sunday’s Scottish quiz about the failure of the Earl of Dumbarton and his missus to visit the town inspired me to write the following (with apologies to Carolina Oliphant for the first two lines):

The Earl o’ Dumbarton, he’s prood and he’s great

His mind is ta’en up wi’ the things o’ the state

Weel, it may hae been once, but noo I can see

That his maxim these days is “What’s in it for me”?

For noo, he is just like a pig at a trough

He departed these shores, well he just buggered off

It’s no’ about service or duty at stake

He’s forgetting it a’ when there’s money to make

Tae hae too mony titles is terribly mean

An’ especially Dumbarton whaur he’s ne’er been seen

Since he cam by the title he’s nivver been there

So Dumbarton may weel be a title that’s spare

So I’ll write to King Charlie the Third, and the last

An’ request that a new royal edict be passed

To gie me the title and I’ll mak it quite clear

That I’ll visit Dumbarton at least once a year!

I enjoyed Sunday’s quiz and got nearly all the answers correct

James Caldwell


NICE when you can get a national newspaper to do your lobbying for you, especially if they make it look as grand as the Cairngorms (National park would provide a ‘long-term boost’ to Dumfries and Galloway, Dec 19).

As the article makes clear, there is a process ongoing, and lots of places are vying to be declared as one of the next tranche of National Parks.

There are also criteria. Would readers choose Galloway as one of the parts of Scotland of outstanding heritage, whose problems could be best addressed by National Park designation and collaborative working between partners which is difficult or impossible at present? A national, not just a regional boost?

It reads more like a development opportunity, specifically tourism development.

So, what is the point of Galloway being a large UNESCO Biosphere, set up to bring about the same sort of things?

And has the shiny new Borders Enterprise agency not already given a distinct boost to the same end, including a funding package that we in the other Biosphere (Wester Ross) can only look upon with envy?

Don’t get me wrong – I love the Galloway hills, and consider the little single-track dead-end road in Glen Trool a gem. It reminds me of the road in Glen Nevis, which has far too much traffic and congestion and lots of overflowing car parks in summer.

Perhaps Galloway can avoid the problems, but what would National Park designation do for Glen Trool, apart from bring lots more traffic and perhaps fund a large car park at the end? Perhaps they could devise a competent traffic management system and shuttle bus.

I see it as no accident or favouritism that the Highlands are always at the front of the queue for National Park designations. They are designed to solve the sort of problems the Highlands experiences intensely.

My work as a roadside ranger in summer 2021 showed me that of all the non-designated areas my team covered, the two least able to cope with the modern world were Durness (thank you NC500) and Lochaber from Glen Etive all the way to Arisaig and Morar.

Kate Forbes was personally involved trying to sort out the problems in Lochaber. Visitors often tell you it is a National Park already.

The local people – who live there – have the intense pressure that could be expected in a National Park and no special help at all. Many just avoid going to their favourite places in summer, as they can’t stand it.

It would be nice to include all the great places that want to be National Parks – Arran, Harris, Glen Affric, Cheviot – but we have to work through some screaming priorities where each summer is to be survived and some help is urgently needed.

Nic Bullivant


A FREQUENT line of attack we have heard for years from opposition politicians on the SNP is often preceded by “you’ve been in power for 15 years. Why are things so terrible?’ To say I have been disappointed with the response to this question is an understatement. For the opposition to even draw attention to the fact they’ve been out of power for 15 years is a massive “own goal”.

Our government who should take the opportunity to remind the questioners in no uncertain terms that they’ve been in power for 15 years because the quality of the opposition is so diabolically bad!

RG Clark


IT’S that time of year again – no National! Wishing you all a well deserved Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. All the best for 2023.

Ann Leitch

via email