Isolation Shepherd – Iain R. Thomson
Delve into the world of remote isolation in this moving and very readable account of a shepherd and young family’s life in Glen Strathfarrar. Set in the mid 1950’s it tells of a world before modern communications and comforts but with many aspects – the mountains around Loch Monar, the relationship between laird and tenant, the tough winter weather, and the working of sheepdogs, that remain to this day. Plenty of photographs help to bring the story to life and the loving descriptions of the landscape mentally teleport you to that remote cottage at the far west end of Loch Morar, before life was changed forever by the flooding of the glen for the hydro-electric scheme and the coming of modernity.
The Mountain Cafe Cookbook – Kirsten Gilmour
The Mountain Cafe in Aviemore has long been the place for outdoors folk to fuel up with hearty breakfasts, indulgent cakes and amazing coffee. Many people are intending to use this extended period of time at home to cook and what better project than trying to recreate some of your favourite treats? Written from the heart in a relaxed style the easy-to-follow recipes are accompanied by mouth-watering photography, so even if you never pick up a spatula, this is a great book to leaf through as you drink beer and main-line crisps in an attempt to stay sane.
Scotland – Chris Townsend
Everyone’s got books on the shelves that haven’t been as well-thumbed as they deserve to be. Scottish hill legend, TGO gear reviewer, and epic long distance walker Chris Townsend’s incredibly comprehensive guide to the Scottish mountains is one such book for me. Jam-packed full of fascinating background information, inspiring route suggestions, clear mapping and good photos this is a great option to dip in and out of when you need a virtual hill fix or to plan future adventures.
Calum’s Road – Roger Hutchinson
An uplifting true-life tale of endurance, hardship and sheer stubbornness on a small Scottish island is a real tonic in these uncertain times. Local journalist, Roger Hutchinson paints a compelling picture of Calum MacLeod’s struggle to get a road built to the north end of Raasay, off the coast of Skye. Having worked his whole life as a crofter, lighthouse keeper and postie, Calum had seen the long term effect of the Clearances and economic decline as people moved away, eventually leaving just him and his wife at the remote north end of the island. Having unsuccessfully petitioned for a road, Calum took his wheelbarrow and pickaxe and with dogged determination set out to build his own road across the peat hags, cliff faces, and wooded burns. Almost twenty years later the road was complete and has proved to be a lifeline as people return to live new and different lives at the “end of the road”.
Mountaineering in Scotland – W. H. Murray
The evocative descriptions of Scottish climbs in the years proceeding the Second World War should immediately transport you to the thrill of the mountains; if you can get hold of the combined volume with the companion ‘Undiscovered Scotland’, so much the better. The first book was originally written on loo roll when Murray was interred as a prisoner of war. Published in 1947 it tells of pioneering first ascents and tales of friendships forged in adversity, when people referred to their companions by their surnames. Murray follows in the tradition of the Romantic poets and the books resonate with the spiritual power that he felt he connected to through the hills. Read either of these and I guarantee your love of the Scottish mountains will be enhanced.
At the Loch of the Green Corrie – Andrew Greig
A completely absorbing account of Greig’s quest to fulfil the dying wish of fellow poet, Norman MacCaig to locate and fish a remote Assynt loch. Beautiful descriptions of the landscape of the North West rub shoulders with biographical detail about Norman MacCaig and Greig’s own life. There is also plenty of humour as Greig takes along a couple of friends and the quest threatens to be lost in a haze of whisky – something that may be familiar to veterans of Walkhighlands meets!
Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
When the comfort eating and drinking of the first few weeks of the virus outbreak finally subside, I shall turn to my go-to comfort read, the classic children’s book Swallows and Amazons. Ideal for the current state of attention deficit, the book offers a clean cut boy’s own adventure (complete with girls including one called Titty, whose name is never remarked upon) of swimming, camping and messing about in boats with a well-described Lake District background. The writing is compelling and wraps you in a wave of nostalgia even if your upbringing was a million miles away from the white, middle class world of the inter-war years.