I’m a professional geologist – one of those hairy and slightly alarming folk who stalk the hills with a hammer, but don’t worry, I’m quite friendly! I’ve taught and researched geology for over 25 years and I’m most at home in two very similar and very beautiful places – the mountainous western seaboards of Norway and Scotland. I’ve also devoted a lot of time to promoting Scottish geology to a wider public through local clubs, the Geological Society of Glasgow and more recently the Scottish Geodiversity Forum. Last year I was privileged to join a splendidly talented group of enthusiasts for the Bedrock Walk as part of the Stories in the Land project; they really opened my eyes to new ways of thinking and I’m looking forward to trying a similar experiment and meeting old friends, all at sea!
Hugh Miller has been a hero of mine for many years as a brilliant communicator of geology. Much of the fascination of geology comes from weaving stories in the fabric of deep time, and Miller was a pre-eminent story-teller who could express difficult ideas in a homely and accessible style. Miller was also an example of the gifted “amateur” who has much to contribute to science – a role that remains highly relevant today. I hope I can go some way to emulating his style and weave my own stories from the Small Isles for my ship-mates. The Cruise of the Betsey is a delightful and insightful story and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to follow in its wake. I just hope the Leader is a bit less leaky and creaky than Swanson’s battered old yacht!