At the centre of my life in Edinburgh is Holyrood Park. I can see it from my Leith flat, it towers over and inspired the design of my place of work in the Scottish Parliament and I circle it to do my job as an MSP.
I have always been grateful to live in such a beautiful place.
What other cities can boast a volcano, a beach, a castle and a history quite like ours?
Yet it wasn’t until I joined the Holyrood Park rangers on patrol that I truly understood its size, fragility and the desperate need to respect the landscape.
This is brought into sharp focus by the wild fires tearing through Lancashire moorlands over recent days.
Firefighters from across England are having to scramble to the fire and beat it.
No hose pipe is long enough and it’s the underlying peat that’s the problem.
We’ve seen fires take hold on the side of Arthur’s Seat before and with this spell of hot weather, the gorse is particularly brittle.
Thank goodness for the junior park rangers, the young volunteer boys and girls who devote their spare time to maintaining the park.
Much of their time is spent doing conservation work, monitoring the wildlife and checking the paths, but they also do a crucial job of cutting breaks into the gorse to stop the fires spreading.
It’s back-breaking work but again essential.
Should we do more to punish those who punish our landscape? Are the penalties high enough for those who casually toss a cigarette or hastily kick dirt on a disposable BBQ and walk away?
It depends what price you put on the beauty of this city.