The first thing to say about this book is that it has practicality as a primary criterion. From the book's size being perfectly proportioned for the pocket of a waterproof jacket to the delightful detail of the four (yes, four) appendices in what appears to be a small book, but which has an encyclopedic degree of useful information packed into its petite pages.
One thing is clear from the tone of the guide - the author is not only a person who is dedicated to making the experience of walking in these rugged islands as painless as possible, but that he also has gathered together more knowledge on the scenery and sights to see on the islands of Harris and Lewis than any man should reasonably expect to garner in a mere lifetime.
Do not be discouraged by the apparent paucity of the number of pages dedicated to each walk. The information provided is obviously and immediately useful to the walker struggling to orient themselves in a difficult terrain, with references to the most intimate of details about the direction of peaks, walls, trials and water features, although you will find the short glossary of local words for things a god-send if the local words are unfamiliar.
At each turn the easiest or best route is described, which, given the unpredictable nature of the conditions of the terrain, this had to be one of the most thankful features of the route descriptions.
One thing I found particularly startling was the quality of the mapping used to describe the walk. Small pools of Ordnance Survey detail have been included for every walk, showing just the level of detail required to encompass the route - surely better than fighting with flapping maps in a strong wind?
There is frequent mention of the local wildlife, in particular the bird population, and for the hunter of neolithic monuments special attention seems to have been paid to ensuring that each and every one of these islands' rich heritage is mentioned if not pictured.
A final word about the photographs. If, like me, you are a regular rambler in the British Isles then you will undoubtedly be familiar with the sunny stock photographs that accompany many of these so-called guide books, which one gets the feeling have been created within the comfortable warmth of a writing studio far from the fields of action. I am assured by the lo0uring clouds and dramatic landscapes specific to each walk to feel that this is an author who really walks his own walks, and that sense of familiar passion comes through every page of the guide. These are real ramblers taking real photographs, rather than travel journalists filling a gap in the market with stock footage and fantasy tracks.
I feel that this guide is likely to firmly establish itself as the definitive guide to the wonders of the Herbridean islands for some time to come, and I'm glad someone has gone to the very great trouble of doing the job so very well. A must-buy for real-world hikers.