Bill Murray's 'Mountaineering in Scotland' has a well-known mythology of its own, having been written on toilet paper in a PoW camp. Now 55 years old, this book stands in the same relationship to Scottish climbing and to Scottish climbing literature as Leslie Stephen's 'Playground of Europe' does to alpine climbing and literature: it provides both the style and tone for the activity, and the yardstick for all subsequent books about it. The climbs Murray describes, even his fierce pioneering winter climbs of the 1930s, may now simply be test pieces for climbers at an early stage of their apprenticeship, while the expression may seem formal and a bit dated. Life moves on.
But the quality of the writing, both in describing climbing action and in evoking landscape across the diversity of Scotland's mountains - on rock or ice, by day and by moonlight, in spring sunshine or in winter blizzard - carry the reader off into a uniquely exalted world of intense mountain experience. All Scottish climbers should own this book, even if it is the only book they own; so should anyone with an interest in the highest quality writing about mountains and mountain landscape.