Saturday 8 January 2022

Outdoor & Nature Books 2021


Every year sees a wealth of outdoor and nature books published and 2021 was no exception.  Here are brief descriptions of the ones I enjoyed most, in no particular order, along with one from a previous yeart I hadn't got round to finishing last year. Where I've reviewed the book online I've given a link.

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! I've mentioned a couple of others here then finished with a short list of books I'm reading now or will be reading soon.

The Earth Beneath My Feet by Andrew Terrill (Enchanted Rock Press, 2021)

I liked this so much I reviewed it twice! Here and here. It's a superb hiking story about the author's walk up the length of Italy and through the Alps. Expansive, personal, and positive this is a life-affirming book. And it's only part one, with the second volume, On Sacred Ground, covering the continuing journey to the northern tip of Norway due out this year. I'm really looking forward to it.

The Farthest Shore: Seeking solitude and nature on the Cape Wrath Trail in winter by Alex Roddie (Vertebrate, 2021)

Another excellent tale of a long walk, this time a tough winter one in the Scottish Highlands. The author set out to escape the online digital world and immerse himself in the natural one. What he discovers is illuminating and thought-provoking. My review for The Great Outdoors magazine should appear soon.

Wild Winter: In search of nature in Scotland's mountain landscape by John D. Burns (Vertebrate 2021)

In my review of this book I wrote "the mix of adventure, wildlife, comic incidents, intriguing characters, and thoughts about the future of the land make this an entertaining and thought-provoking book". 

The 1033 High Hills of Britain by Alan Dawon (Pedantic Press, 2021)

An idiosyncratic book about hill bagging with an unusual list of summits this successor to The Relative Hills of Britain is entertaining and informative. Contains some wonderful mountains stories and interesting arguments. I must get round to writing a review.

Peaks And Bandits by Alf Bonnevie Bryn (Vertebrate, 2021)

First published in Norway in 1943 this is the story of two students and their 'discovery' of Corsica in 1909. They have plenty of amusing and hair-raising adventures, not all mountaineering ones. A light humorous read. I reviewed it here

The Trail by Ethan Gallogly (Sierra Nevada Press, 2021)

This is a novel based on a hike along the John Muir Trail in California, telling the story of two hikers whose relationship develops as their walk progresses.  The author knows the trail and the area really well and imparts a great deal of information in an entertaining and easy-to-read way. I'll post a full review soon.

The Vanishing Ice: Diaries of a Scottish snow hunter by Iain Cameron (Vertebrate, 2021)

A fascinating and intriguing book about the author's passion for the remnants of snow that last through the Scottish summer. Adventure stories, scientific research, history. There's a lot to snow patches! I reviewed it for the December 2021 issue of The Great Outdoors. I'll post the review online soon.

The Munros by Rab Anderson & Tom Prentice (Scottish Mountaineering Press, 2021)

The fourth edition of the Scottish Mountaineering Club's guide to the Munros this is by far the best yet with much more information, more photographs, and larger maps. The subsidiary Tops are included for the first time too. I reviewed it here.

The Peatlands Of Britain And Ireland: A Traveller's Guide by Clifton Bain (Sandstone Press, 2021)

The third in a trilogy by Clifton Bain, the others being The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland and The Rainforests of Britain and Ireland, this is a lovely book for browsing and inspiration. It's packed with information on peatlands and their importance along with information for visiting key ones plus some wonderful photographs.

Wanderlust Alps: Hiking Aacross the Alps by Alex Roddie (Gestalten, 2021)

A companion to 2020's Wanderlust Europe this is another book for browsing and inspiration. It's packed with details of hiking routes in the Alps and mounth-watering photographs. I reviewed it here

Of Stone And Sky by Merryn Glover (Polygon, 2021)

A family saga set in the Cairngorms this novel is powerful and absorbing as the complex tale evolves with a profound mystery at its heart. I haven't finished reading it yet so it may well appear in next year's round-up too.

Regeneration: The Rescue of a Wild Land by Andrew Painting (Birlinn, 2021)

The story of the vast Mar Lodge Estate in the Cairngorms since it's takeover by the National Trust for Scotland in 1995 this book reveals the hard work, compromises, and scientific study needed to restore nature and the landscape. 

Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its Birds by Benedict Macdonals (Pelagic Publishing, 2019)

I included this in last year's review though I hadn't finished reading it. Now I have I think this informative and provocative book is worth a second mention. The uplifting optimism at the end is very much needed.

Walks And Climbs In The Pyrenees by Kev Reynolds (Cicerone Press, 1978) 

Author and guide Kev Reynolds sadly died towards the end of last year. I have many of his books. I've chosen this one as it was the first I bought and the one I used in the hills most, taking it on several trips to the Pyrenees. We've lost a great outdoor writer.

The Cairngorms by Adam Watson (Scottish Mountaineering Trust, 1975)

Another sad loss was Adam Watson in 2019. The expert on the Cairngorms in all aspects his Scottish Mountaineering Club District Guide Book is packed with information on geology, weather, natural history, as well as walks and climbs. 


Finally here's a list of books I've either started reading or will be doing so soon. (I read too many books at once!).

Wanderers: A History of Women Walking by Kerri Andrews (Reaktion Books, 2020)

Restoring The Wild: Sixty Years Of Rewilding Our Skies, Woods and Waterways by Roy Dennis (Collins, 2021)

The Black Ridge: Amongst the Cuillin of Skye by Simon Ingram (Collins, 2021)

Chasing The Deer: The Red Deer Through The Seasons by Neil McIntyre (Sandstone Press, 2021)

The Fox of Glencoe by Hamish Macinnes (Scottish Mountaineering Press, 2021)

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