44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Granite and Grit: A Walker's Guide to the Geology of British Mountains (Hardcover)
My previous experience of Ronald Turnbull is his witty and entertaining route guides and articles in Trail and TGO. Fortunately, Granite and Grit is more of the same: witty, easy to read and very informative. The opening paragraph sums it up and gives the flavour to come: 'This is not a geology book. Well, okay, this is a geology book. But I'm not a geologist: I'm a hillwalker who likes to know what's going on under my feet.' And that's it. Technical/geological/scientific terms are used throughout the book, but are always explained. And, and this is crucial, it is NOT a dry academic text. It is witty and informative with nicely bite sized chapters.
The book covers the geology of all Britain's mountain areas making it clear that whilst Britain's geology is highly involved and complex it is within the reach of the non expert. For the first time, I've begun to grasp the difference between granite and rhyolite. A recent visit to the the Carneddau in North Wales was made hugely more exciting than normal by being able to recognise rock stratas, and beautiful pieces of milky quartz (not simply knowing that they were milky quartz but being able to understand how they formed).
When I first started reading the book I found it frustrating. Chapters would just seem to be getting going, with a nice mixture of easy science, Turnbull's own walking experiences, and good explanatory diagrams and then finish. But as I read more this approach became its greatest strength: the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It is the kind of book that you read from cover to cover first time round and then go back to, to re-read individual chapters. In this way you begin to see geology as a holistic science. If you wish it's like a jigsaw puzzle, the more pieces you fit together, the more you understand the entire picture.
And talking of pictures, the book is amply and beautifully illustrated with pictures that leave you planning trips to some of Britain's most awesomely beautiful landscapes; where, with the help of this book, that awe is increased by an understanding of the extraordinary and gigantic forces and time spans that created those landscapes.
If you like walking up,down and around mountains, and want to understand more about them, then this book is for you.