Cairngorm John: A Life in Mountain Rescue – John Allen Publisher: Sandstone Press Ltd Published: 20 March 2009 ISBN 13: 9781905207244 ISBN 10: 1905207247

Frequently when working or walking in the Cairngorm mountains I hear or see the mountain rescue helicopter buzz overhead and wonder what has happened to an unfortunate climber or hillwalker. I’ve felt especially concerned for the injured person and the mountain rescue team if it was particularly bad weather. I’d then maybe hear a short two line article in the local press the following day.

In this book John Allen tells of the background and aftermath of some of these incidents. John Allen served as member of the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team for over thirty years and he was team leader for most of that time, following on from the well-known Molly Porter. (Read more)

Into the Wild – Jon Krakauer (Paperback) Publication Date: February 1997, ISBN-10: 0385486804,  ISBN-13: 9780385486804

In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild. (Read More)

Hostile Habitats – Scotland’s Mountain Environment: A Hillwalkers’ Guide to Wildlife and the Landscape, Mark Wrightam (Ed.), Nick Kempe (Ed.) (2006)

Publishers blurb: This is the first guide to Scotland’s mountain fauna, flora and landscape written for hillwalkers. “Hostile Habitats – Scotland’s Mountain Environment”, takes an in-depth look at the upland environment of the hillwalker and outdoor enthusiast, with chapters and identification sections on climate, geology, landscape, plants, animals, birds, insects, human influences and conservation.

My thoughts: This is an interesting and informative book. Although a fair chunk of the information was stuff I know (or should have remembered) from my Environmental Science study days, it was really useful to have all this explained in relation to mountains specifically. The identification chapters are clear and illustrated with good photos and although it is not a field guide, it can used to help with identification of plants or mosses if you’ve photographed them.

The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd (Paperback) (ISBN: 9781847674241)

Publishers blurb: The Living Mountain is a lyrical testament in praise of the Cairngorms. It is a work deeply rooted in Nan Shepherd’s knowledge of the natural world, and a poetic and philosophical meditation on our longing for high and holy places. Drawing on different perspectives of the mountain environment, Shepherd makes the familiar strange and the strange awe-inspiring. Her sensitivity and powers of observation put her into the front rank of nature writing.

My thoughts: This is beautifully written prose through which Nan Shepherd describes her immersion in the Cairngorms. For Shepherd, being outdoors is a sensuous experience.  She  lives off wild food, eating cranberries, cloudberries, blaeberries, drinking from the “strong white” water of rivers. She swims in lochs, and sleeps on hillsides.

The First Fifty: Munro-bagging without a Beard  by Muriel Gray ISBN-10: 0552139378 (Out of print)

One of the funniest hillwalking/Munro bagging ‘guide books’ around. I remember when I fist read this in the 1980s it struck a chord. Then, us females were trying to fit in a man’s world – and men’s-cut clothing – and doing it in our way.  Muriel  explains the importance of the flask of tomato soup (something I’ve never carried on the hill);  conveys images of breathing ‘Breathable Fabrics” and explains the opportunties us women had to get up close and personal to nature when attending to toilet stops!


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