Top positive review
3 people found this helpful
Rugged and Remote
on 21 December 2014
The title `Great Mountain Days In Scotland' and the subtitle '50 classic hillwalking challenges' states with exactitude what the author expects his book to be about and where the action takes place. On reading I was delighted at how narrative unerringly captures the unique and special flavour of Scotland's mountains, and I empathized with the author's obvious devotion to the country. In selecting the 50 `challenges' it is clear Dan Bailey knows Scotland intimately and he has a great affinity for the mountains.
The `Introduction' explains how Scottish hillwalking offers some of the greatest mountain days to be found anywhere, yet they combine being rugged and remote with the advantage of being conveniently compact. Dan Bailey has brought together details of 50 `quality' walks from all over Scotland with 23 in the northwest highlands, 14 in Lochaber, central and southern highlands, 6 in the Cairngorms, 1 in Galloway and 6 in the islands from Arran to Lewis. An overall map of Scotland gives the location of walks, and `Great Mountain Days In Scotland' is enhanced by numerous excellent colour photographs for each `challenge' plus others to support text.
As a rock-climber I have visited most areas in Scotland where a lot of my hillwalking was a necessity to get to the crags and I did little that could be called classic hillwalking. However I feel qualified to review `Great Mountain Days In Scotland' as I have done a few of the routes identified by Dan Bailey and also I have done sections of others. For example I walked over Ben More and Stob Binnein but did not extend it to Cruach Ardrain etc., and I have walked the Ben Lawers group but left the Tarmachen ridge to another day, and I bagged Ben Hope without Ben Loyal. I admire Dan Bailey for his guts and determination but there is no way that after traversing AnTeallach I would have continued to Beinn Dearg Mor, but on the other hand I recall a most satisfying traverse of the Cuillin ridge in one go which must eclipse his challenges on Skye (this is deliberate and it is described in Dan Bailey's `Scotland's Mountain Ridges').
This is not too surprising considering so many of the 50 routes incorporate overnight stays with Dan Bailey including 2-day expeditions and notes on accommodation which in turn gives details of bothies, howffs etc. as well as presenting details of start/finish, distance, time, terrain etc. (and some uncommon approaches as mountain bike or kayak). He gives preference to tackling long rigorous expeditions (ranging from 20 - 46 kilometres and up to 4,200 metres of ascent) and perhaps that is why there is no place for Scottish favourites like Schiehallion or Stac Pollaidh, yet there are full accounts of the nearby (in Scottish terms) massive circuit of Ben Alder and Geal-Charn, and the isolated double peak round of Suilven and Canisp. After covering the usual preliminaries for a guidebook including access, weather, hazards etc. he draws attention to possible short cuts and alternative routes which are indicated on clear 1:100,000 scale maps. Readers need not slavishly follow the exact routes described by Dan Bailey - `Great Mountain Days In Scotland' is really about identifying opportunities - it is a mixture of inspiration and celebration - and it deserves a 5-star rating.