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Walking in Scotland's Far North: 62 Mountain Walks (Cicerone British Mountains) Paperback – 1 Mar 2005
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'This compact 160 page guide covers the area to the north of a line from Ullapool to Bonar Bridge, but excludes the lowlands north of Dunbeath and east of Thurso. The 62 walks described cover various approaches to the five Munros as well as most other hills, supported by sketch maps, distance and height gain. It provides information on most villages and their facilities as well as accommodation, campsites and parking, all linked to walks nearby. The reader is left in no doubt that even the shorter routes can be challenging. Longer traverses include the Assynt Horseshoe from Quinag to Canisp by way of Conival and Ben More Assynt, while the low-level walk to Sandwood Bay is lovingly portrayed. The sparkling text and excellent colour photographs provide a sound basis for planning several walking holidays in Caithness and Sutherland - just remember to take waterproof boots and midge repellent.' (Hazel White, Cairngorm Club Journal 2004)
About the Author
Andy Walmsley is a keen outdoorsman, fell and mountain-marathon runner, he is originally from Preston, where he is an engineer. As well as Scotland he has walked extensively in the Sierra Nevada.
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My early trips to this remote and inaccessible part of Britain allowed me to tick-off classics as Stac Pollaidh at the southern end and Ben Hope as the most northerly Munro. In between I became aware of a host of mountains that are largely ignored, but their solitude is an added attraction to the spacious and rugged nature of the country. The walks described start north of Ullapool with Ben Mor Coigach and Sgurr an Fhidhleir before describing easier to get at Stac Pollaidh, Cul Beag and Cul Mor, after which with longer approaches are Suilven and Canisp, and the two Munros of Ben More Assynt and Conival plus Breabag, and then the unique jewels of the far north including Quinag and smaller gems as Ben Leoid, Ben Stack and Meallan Liath before magnificent Foinaven at a disputed but single foot below a Munro, yet more challenging than the last two Munros of Ben Hope and Ben Klibreck, and one of the finest statuesque peaks as Ben Loyal. For me this north-western area has provided the most alluring, but I am tempted to look further to take advantage of the guidebook’s inclusion in the east of Morven and Scaraben. There are alternative on some of the mountains described, and there are additional mountains to those summarised, together with inclusion of longer routes as the Assynt Horseshoe, the traverse of Ben Hee and Carn An Tionail, and a long ascent of Cranstackie as furthest north.
Not much seems to be missed in author Andy Walmsley’s selection of 62 mountain walks, and as expected of Cicerone guidebooks there is advice on topography, climate, flora and fauna, travel, equipment etc. and to suit the wild country involved there are suggestions of places to uses as bases, with a helpful section on roads within the area. Preliminary matters in ‘Walking in Scotland’s Far North’ are less comprehensive than more recent guidebooks but remain relevant, and the route descriptions are sound with supporting stylized maps and fine colour photographs. The text refers to pertinent OS Landranger maps, and it presents overall information on terrain, distance, height gain etc. though it ignores times and grades as these are considered too subjective. The guidebook is perhaps a bit dated but it competently covers a magnificent area with truly magic mountains – and for doing so it fully deserves a 5-star rating.