Peat has been used as a fuel for both heating and cooking in Scottish homes for many hundreds of years.
Cutting peats is both heavy and very hard work.
Peat cutting begins in May which allows for the summer sun and winds to dry out the peat. Before the peat is cut all surface growth is cleared away. Then using a specially shaped peat-cutting spade the turf is cut into pieces of the form of a small slab. The cut peats are then thrown up on to the peat bank where they are caught and passed from one person to another and spread out to harden.
Only when the peats are dry are they carted home and built into a 'stack' to protect them from the elements.
On a cold winter night the aroma of the peat smoke in the glen as the weary traveller approached the croft was as welcoming as the sudden burst of heat from the peat fire on opening the croft door.
Families gathered around the fire for warmth as each in turn recounted the events of their day.
An inpromptu song, the recital of a poem or a tune on a penny whistle brought cheer to all.
As the embers of the peat died down with everyone snugly tucked into their beds, to sleep, to dream, to prepare for the day ahead.
Life was simple but hard.
For a distinctive taste some traditional Scottish distilleries still use peat-fired kilns.
The malt is dried in these kilns where the heat and smoke rise up from beneath the kiln floor and filters through the malt infusing it with a smokey smell and taste.
These 'peaty' Scotch Whiskies are among the most sought after and include famous names such as Ardbeg, Laphroaig® and Lagavulin.
Because of the quantities involved, peat for commercial use is harvested using special machinery.
It's the peat that puts the soul into the spirit!