Grand Tours of Scotland’s Rivers episode 5: This Grand Tour begins in the hills above Glen Clova, on a mountainous plateau known as the Mounth. Following the South Esk downstream, Paul enters picturesque Corrie Fee, where he scrambles on the cliffs with two botanists, searching for Scotland’s rarest plant. Back on the South Esk, he goes electro-fishing to discover more about the ecology and general health of the whole river system.
Running out of riverside paths, Paul takes to the road for a few miles and rides a motorbike to the ancestral home of Harley Davidson. Later he discovers how social distancing in the 17th century enabled traders to ply their wares during the plague in Brechin, Scotland’s smallest city. Where the river enters the saltwater Montrose basin, Paul learns how plans to transform the tidal basin into a Dutch-style polder for agriculture were scuppered by a storm witch – or was she just a scapegoat for competing interests?
During the Second World War, the Norwegian navy was stationed in Montrose. Their mascot, a huge St Bernard dog called Bamse, became a war hero and a national celebrity. Paul pays homage to the giant dog with a visit to his statue before ending his journey down the South Esk at the river mouth, where a lighthouse stands guard over the rocks of Scurdie Ness.
Seasoned traveller Paul Murton sets off downstream to explore five rivers over six programmes from source to sea. Paul Murton is a Scottish television presenter and broadcaster, film-maker, and historian, working primarily on the BBC with an emphasis on travelogues in Scotland. Born in 1957 and raised in Ardentinny on the shores of Loch Long, Argyll, Scotland, where his parents ran a small hotel, Murton is best known for his series Scotland’s Clans, Grand Tours of Scotland, Grand Tours of the Scottish Islands and Grand Tours of Scotland’s Lochs.
Murton is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen and the National Film and Television School. Before writing and presenting his Grand Tours series, he directed several TV dramas, including Bramwell, The Bill, Casualty and River City. In 2021 he wrote the biographical novel The Highlands, published by Birlinn. He is married with five children and lives in Scotland.
Grand Tours of Scotland’s Rivers episode 5
Bamse was a St. Bernard dog that became the heroic mascot of the Free Norwegian Forces during the Second World War. He became a symbol of Norwegian freedom during the war. Bamse was bought in Oslo, Norway, by Captain Erling Hafto, the master of the Norwegian whale-catcher Thorodd, and he was taken to sea from an early age. In her childhood memories of pre-war Honningsvåg, Captain Hafto’s daughter Vigdis remembers Bamse as a very kind dog that would look after the children while they were playing.
At the onset of the Second World War, Thorodd was drafted into the Royal Norwegian Navy as a coastal patrol vessel, based in Hammerfest, and Bamse was enrolled as an official crew member on 9 February 1940. After the Nazi invasion of Norway on 9 April 1940 the Thorodd was part of the naval opposition to the Germans and had as one of its uses POW transport. Shortly before the 10 June 1940 capitulation of mainland Norway, Thorodd was one of 13 Norwegian naval vessels to escape to the UK, arriving 17 June 1940. She was converted to a minesweeper in Rosyth from 30 June 1940 and stationed in Montrose and Dundee in Scotland, where she remained for the rest of the war.
From his ship’s mascot, Bamse became mascot of the Royal Norwegian Navy, and then of all the Free Norwegian Forces. An iconic photograph of him wearing a Norwegian sailor’s cap was used on patriotic Easter cards and Christmas cards during the war. The PDSA made him an official Allied Forces Mascot.