Title: Scotland's Mountain Ridges - Scrambling, mountaineering and climbing - the best routes for summer and winter Author: Dan Bailey Publisher: Cicerone Press - 2006 Price: £17.95
Read our review of Dan Bailey’s brilliant guide to Scotland’s finest ridge routes, published by Cicerone Press
This book has been out for a number of months now but has just landed on my desk for review. Your first impressions on hearing the title could be to think that it’s another book about walking in Scotland in a market that is already saturated. But that is where you would be wrong, with the subtitle “scrambling, mountaineering and climbing – the best routes for summer and winter” giving a clue to the gems that await you inside.
If you’re a mountaineer who is not so interested in ticking lists but in finding exciting and challenging routes to a summit then this is the book for you. With nearly 50 routes (48 to be precise) across the length and breadth of Scotland and loads of background information, this will keep most people busy for months, if not years. And for people such as myself who aren’t lucky enough to reside in Scotland and have to limit themselves to trips north of the border once or twice a year, this is an excellent resource for planning where to go.
Dan has split his routes into logical groups based upon geographical region and while including a number of classic and popular routes such as Curved Ridge on Buachaille Etive Mor, Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis and even the Cuillin Main Ridge Traverse there are many less frequented and excellent routes available. One thing I found really refreshing was that the author avoided the usual pit fall of focusing all of his routes around Munros. While granted a large number of them do summit on the higher peaks, he has also thrown in a few which finish on other peaks something which I wish more books would consider.
As already mentioned this book contains both winter and summer routes in roughly a one third - two third split respectively. That said as the majority of routes can be tackled in any season it is good to see that although each description focuses on a particular season it does include notes on the differences that can be encountered in say winter if the main description is for summer.
As the name would suggest the routes are all based around ridges and are at the easier end of the grade range with the hardest summer route being the South Ridge Direct of Rosa Pinnacle which has what some might call the “modest” grade of VS. Don’t be put off by this though as the majority of summer routes sit in the mod – v diff bracket with a number of severes if you want something a bit more challenging or scrambles in all grades if you prefer. For winter the hardest route is grade III (Inglis Clark Ridge) with the majority being grades I and II. These kind of grades are to be expected as the to emphasis here is not on climbing hard but on covering a considerable amount of ground in relative ease, following interesting and varied routes to a summit.
The route descriptions are clearly written and well laid out with lots of large colour photos, OS maps and details of the approach, route and descent. While larger in format than a standard guide book, it’s roughly A5 in size, I think that the vast quantity of photographs easily lends itself to this size and if you want to take the route description on the hill with you, you can always take a photocopy of the page in question.
Overall I am very impressed by this book and would recommend this to any mountaineer planning a visit to Scotland. In fact for those not completely familiar with the wide diversity of the Scottish mountains then this book will aid in planning a wonderful trip of discovery.
The guidebook can be purchased directly from Cicerone for £17.95.
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