There're times you've just got to disagree. This is no classic, more of interest because it is a key part of the popularisation of the Munros, but it's not particularly good. It's an account of 112 days climbing all the Munros during a period of very poor weather. Nothing very much happens, he doesn't see that much and a lot of the interest is simply in the logistics.
He's keen on exercising his prejudices. He's a bit of a religious nutter. It's a shame for us atheistical hill-walkers as we descend a hill into a glorious winter sunset that Hamish says our blinkered outlook doesn't allow us to appreciate such beauty. At one point where the weather relents, he walks along stripped down to his underpants and reading the bible. This is an image that has haunted my worst dreams, remembering what skiddies looked like in the '70s.
He is hierarchical in his view of walkers - the highest degree is "gangrel" which he awards to one other walker encountered and to himself. He deplores bagging - strangely, as his trip is all about it. He counts an extra ascent when he retraces his steps on Ben a'Ghlo and reascends Bràigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain, bagging behaviour of the first order. And he's in the fashion police, bright colours of any sort and he condemns you out of hand.
Go ahead and read the book, it's not without interest. But you want a Scottish hill classic? Try Muriel Gray's First 50, or Tom Patey's One Man's Mountains or WH Murray's Undiscovered Scotland.
Anyone who has had some experience of Scottish hills will find this an excellant read. This could be considered an alternative form of guide book as it links the Munros together by routes that the average walker or Munro bagger would not normally consider. Thank you Ann for the recommendation.
This is the best book on mountaineering in Scotland there is. Since hillwalking in the Highlands of Scotland has no equal, then this may as well be the best book on mountaineering altogether. Hamish's style is reminiscent of John Buchan's "John McNab". His love for the hill gushes off the page and is utterly inspiring. It takes a greater skill to paint such a glorious picture than it does to pepper a story with dramatic mishaps; Joe Simpson this is not. Like Hamish, I am happiest in the mountains and he echoes the love of the hills that so many of us feel in such a perfectly pitched literary manner. It's such a shame this book is out of print. It is the perfect accompaniment to both the SMC Monroe/ Corbett guide books or Martin Moran's Munroes in Winter. Only a few pages in, you are flicking through your diary and mulling over when is the soonest I can return to the hills - the land where we are all kings. So often novels carry the newspaper review along the lines of "I finished the book and turned straight back to the beginning and read it through again"... this is a sentiment that has always seemed hard to swallow; however if it wasn't for an urge to run up fell and glen I would be re-reading this book as soon as I have closed the back cover. If you can find it - read it.
This must rank as one of the classics of Scottish Mountaineering literature. I read it first back in the early 1980's and it really did inspire me to climb many of those mountains visited by Hamish on his long trek over the Munros. But its not just about the mountains. Hamish writes about the history, wildlfe and people of the areas he travels through as well as reminiscing about his own experiences over the years. A wonderful book to read from end to end or simply to dip into.