Tuesday 12 January 2021

Outdoor & Nature Books 2020 Review


Every year sees a wealth of outdoor and nature books published and 2020 was no exception.  Here are brief descriptions of the ones I enjoyed most, in no particular order, along with a few that were published in previous years but I hadn't got round to reading until last year and a couple of classics. 

As every year I also dipped into old favourites from authors like Edward Abbey, Colin Fletcher, John Muir, Nan Shepherd, and Hamish Brown. New books don't replace old ones!

Corrour Bothy: A refuge in the wilderness by Ralph Storer

The last book I read in 2020 as it arrived just before Christmas. A love letter to a Cairngorms bothy. History, anecdotes, geography, bridge building, walking routes and many, many excerpts from 100 years of bothy books. I found it intriguing and fascinating. A longer review will follow soon.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

This was the first book I read last year. A magnificent and dizzying tour de force it looks at every aspect of humanity's involvement with the underworld in myths, history, literature and today. The author carries you along on exciting and sometimes terrifying underground adventures, all described with profound understanding of the meaning of the places explored.

The Big Rounds: Running and walking the Bob Graham, Paddy Buckley and Charlie Ramsey Rounds by David Lintern

Three challenging multi-summit hill circuits in England, Wales and Scotland described for walkers as well as runners with interviews and stories from the exceptional characters who first undertook them. Beautifully illustrated with the author's excellent photographs. Longer review here.

Marram: Memories of sea and spider-silk by Leonie Charlton

A lovely lyrical account of a journey on horseback through the Outer Hebrides tinged with sadness as the author grapples with memories of her fraught relationship with her late mother.

Red Sixty Seven curated by Kit Jewitt

A lovely collection of essays and paintings inspired by the Red List of the most vulnerable UK birds. Review here

Walking Through Shadows by Mike Cawthorne

Gripping story of a tough walk through the Scottish Highlands in winter in memory of a friend who died in the wilds. Captures winter in the hills superbly. Review here

Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds by Benedict Macdonald

A deep look at the decline of birds in Britain and what can be done about it. Challenging, provocative, and, ultimately, optimistic.

Walking the Great North Line: From Stonehenge to Lindisfarne by Robert Twigger

Entertaining story of a walk through England along a line connecting historic sites. Humorous, philosophical, and fun. Review here.

The Unremembered Places: Exploring Scotland's Wild Histories by Patrick Baker

Journeys to islands, mountain passes, caves and more in search of history in wild places. Fascinating and informative. Review here

Wanderlust Europe: The Great European Hike by Alex Roddie

A collection of lavishly illustrated walks in Europe from Iceland to Georgia. A book for dreaming and inspiration. Review here

Mountains of the Moon: Lunar Nights On Scotland's High Peaks by Alan Rowan

Exciting and entertaining account of a night ascent at every full moon of the year. 

Keeping Dry & Staying Warm by Mike Parsons & Mary Rose

A detailed look at staying comfortable in the outdoors. Packed with information. I was a consultant for the book. More here.

Life On The Mountains by Terry Abraham

Outdoor film maker Terry Abraham tells his story. Beautifully illustrated with his wonderful photographs. Review here.

Skye's Cuillin Ridge Traverse by Adrian Trendall

The best guidebook I've seen to the formidable Cuillin. Excellent route descriptions, advice and photographs. Review here

Sky Dance: Fighting for the wild in the Scottish Highlands by John D. Burns

Conservation, mountaineering and bothies all mixed together in this comic novel with a serious message. Review here.

Our Place: Can We Save Britain's Wildlife Before It Is Too Late? by Mark Cocker

Thought-provoking look at the history of conservation organisations and legislation with analysis of what went wrong and the radical steps needed to change this. Review here

The Munros In Winter by Martin Moran

New edition of a classic first published in 1986 with a new foreward by Joy Moran. An epic Scottish winter adventure climbing all the Munros in one winter for the first time. I have an original edition I haven't read in decades. It's proved well worth reading again.

Call-Out by Hamish MacInnes

Following the sad death of mountaineering and mountain rescue pioneer Hamish MacInnes last autumn I pulled my copy, dated 1978, off the bookshelves and reread it. The stories are terrifying and sobering and the author's ingenuity in finding ways to rescue people very impressive.




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