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PREVIOUS SPREAD: Glenfinnan Viaduct, the Scottish Highlands. This sweeping view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct as it curves its way through the West Highlands captures the beauty and romance of the railways at the peak of their popularity. Designed by Sir Robert McAlpine, the 380-metre-long viaduct, which features 21 arches, some as high as 30 metres, was one of the largest engineering works ever completed using unreinforced concrete. Completed in 1901, and today regularly described as one of the most scenic railway lines in Britain, the 263-kilometre single-track West Highland Line crosses the top of Loch Shiel by way of the viaduct, en route from Glasgow to Mallaig in the Western Isles; ABOVE: Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. Bass Rock hosts the largest single rock colony of northern gannets in the world, containing more than 120,000 occupied nests. With more than one tenth of the North Atlantic gannet population perched here, cheek by jowl, jostling for space in this noisy colony, it’s astonishing that the birds are able to find their nests after returning from their fishing expeditions. The first detailed studies of gannets were carried out on Bass Rock, a fact reflected in their scientific name, Morus bassanus. Although Bass Rock is uninhabited today, it has housed a number of solitarians and sheep since the sixth century, when a Christian hermit by the name of Baldred took up residence on the island after taking Christianity to the nearby Lothians jason

30 www.geog december 2010

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