Thursday 3 February 2011


The March issue of TGO is in the shops now. My backpacking column is about Peter Wright's Ribbon of Wildness book about the watershed of Scotland and the opportunities it offers to lovers of wild land. The idea of a long walk right through Scotland along the watershed is exciting and Peter Wright shows that the land along the way is pretty unspoilt. I've crossed the watershed many times and camped it on quite a few (the picture shows a camp by Loch Skeen close to the watershed in the Southern Uplands) but never really given it any thought before.

In gear I've reviewed 29 base layers (!) plus the Rab Infinity Down Jacket. Elsewhere Judy Armstrong reviews synthetic insulated jackets, Cameron McNeish reviews some MSR snowshoes and Eddy Meecham, in his last Lighten' Up column, revisits the gear he used before he went ultralight. Eddy's is an interesting article - I think many people will regard most of his original kit as pretty light already. And he does acknowledge that it does have some advantages over his ultralight gear in terms of convenience, comfort and durability.

Amongst the other good stuff in this issue are some interesting reader's letters on the question of air transport and ethical travel; news pieces on the Dumnaglass wind farm and the wake for wilderness Alan Sloman is organising plus the English forest sell-off (today the bill allowing this was passed in the House of Commons), which is also covered in Roger Smith's Tread Softly column; Emily Rodway on a day out on Helvellyn with the Fell Top Assessors; 10 of the best UK winter ridge scrambles described by Dan Bailey (but no Liathach or An Teallach!); the landscape of Donegal celebrated by Adrian Hendroff; Ed Douglas talking to some instructors about mistakes people make in the winter hills; Cameon McNeish Corbett-bagging in the Shieldaig area; geology in the Shropshire hills with Edoardo Albert; Jim Perrin exploring the mysterious Thursbitch valley in the Peak District and Hilary Sharp advising on snowshoeing.


  1. Oh Chris, what have they done to your report on base layers. It looks pretty on the page, but as a tool to compare products has lost all of it clarity. Please tell me this is not a glimpse of the future.

  2. Geoff, no, this isn't a glimpse of the future. It's the only way 29 garments could be fitted in, and because it was base layers it would have been hard to give each one a column anyway. Mostly, gear reviews will feature up to 15 items and look like Judy's insulated garments piece.

  3. Chris,
    What is the watershed ?

  4. Dave Hewitt wrote a book about Walking the Watershed. I used to have a copy, but seem to have mislaid it. Luckily, Dave's book is available on line.

  5. Alastair, a watershed is the divide between two drainages. So the watershed in Scotland is the divide between water that runs to the Atlantic Ocean and water that runs to the North Sea.

    John, I have Dave Hewitt's book and it's well worth reading. I mention it in my column, as does Peter Wright in his book. But Dave Hewitt'ss book is about his walk, Peter Wright's is about the watershed and the idea of conserving it. Also Dave Hewitt walks to Cape Wrath. Peter Wright argues convincingly that the watershed actually ends at Duncansby Head.

  6. Thank you for the clarification.

    I was sorry to see that there will be no more Lighten Up. This column got me back into reading TGO regularly. I don't know how Eddy found so many topics to write about, but, for me, he is/was TGO's best essayist. That may be controversial, but he always left me feeling better informed.

  7. Eddy's last column/feature? Never!

    I always look forward to reading about what he's been up to - along with you, Chris.

    Two 'down to earth' normal bloke talking about stuff that we can all relate to, or be inspired by.

    I do hope he's being given some other kind of role within the mag

  8. Eddy's not disappearing completely! He will be writing features in future issues. How often I don't know.

  9. It's an east-west watershed, so you can chose your finishing point anywhere on the north coast. Ducansby, Dunnet, Strathy, it's up to you once you get to Carn Dearg, where the north coast rivers kick in.

    I really feel Dave Hewitt is getting done over somewhat.