Top positive review
One person found this helpful
Not quite as good as I'd hoped - but a great piece of work
on 13 June 2013
When I first saw this I was really pleased. Obviously loads of research and compilation work has gone into this book and in that sense it's very impressive. So much diverse information in one place - and I will continue to use it as a reference point. However, I do have a few points to make - mostly about the author's style and approach.
Firstly - whilst I totally agree with the principles of environmental conservation e.g. pages 64-65 - I think there's far too much emphasis on avoiding the potentially damaging effects of 'wild camping' which is one of the most sensitive ways of staying in the mountains compared with (say) windfarm development, excessive use of cars (rather than public transport) and other environmental aspects like climate change and overgrazing (by deer and sheep). I think it would have been more helpful to focus more on the really critical environmental issues for the Scottish Mountains and what we can do about them to give them more balanced and careful consideration. Is it more helpful to lobby for restrictions on windfarm development rather than pick up fluff at wild campsites? On page 64 Chris writes about removing stone rings from overnight sites - presumably then he spends time removing the 'extensive low rock walls' on Sgurr nan Eag (page 503) constructed by Cuillin Ridge walkers! I think there's a bit of inconsistency there! Again on the topic of wild camping - there seems to be a current practice of stopping the car and putting up a tent next to a convenient layby or in a field. This isn't wild camping as defined and permitted by law and it has a lot more environmental consequences than true wild camping. It would be really good to encourage people to get away from campsites and roadsides and I don't really see this emphasised.
Secondly - I would have preferred a more objective and less personalised writing in some places. This isn't a magazine article describing a specific walk or day in the hills. As a reader I'm not particularly interested in what the weather conditions were when the author did a particular hill walk etc. I would treat this more as a reference book and source of good quality information (whether about mountaineering, the environment, history etc). However, Chris is a good writer and there are plenty of really good sections that are loaded with interesting and useful information.
On actual scope and content, I appreciate that it's already a big book. Activities covered include walking, climbing ski-touring etc. I'd have been happier to see some more mention of mountain biking (both positive and potentially negative aspects), kayaking and other mountain activities. Many people use the mountains for a diverse range of activities and whilst clearly the author has concentrated on those with which he's most familiar - it would have been good to recognise that other people may have different preferences which are equally as valid.
Finally on transport and 'getting around' - public transport is briefly mentioned over a few pages at the start. I don't think this is sufficient. There are some excellent bus routes that enable access to many parts of the highlands and islands. They get very poor coverage in this book and few people use them. I guess that's why (for example) the old bus into Glen Brittle stopped operating - because it was often empty whilst the car parks were generally full! If we want to really be sensitive to environmental concerns we need to start with our own approach - getting there and getting around is part of that. Plus - buses offer the opportunity for end to end walks rather than circular routes. I appreciate that information like this gets quickly outdated - but that's not the point - it's more about trying to convince people to stop driving everywhere in their cars.
If these comments all sound very negative - I apologise. I have enjoyed this book and I expect I'll continue to use it for many years to come. I'd recommend it for anyone who knows the mountains of Scotland - because there's always something new here.