As mentioned in an earlier post, I’ve recently purchased a couple of books with walks on the Isle of Skye. I’m hoping to do some hill bagging in the second week of my stay on the island and I needed a book that would help me identify the best routes up some of the more interesting hills, as well as perhaps offering some ideas for good, lower level day walks.
I’ll quickly review the two books I bought – both from Amazon Marketplace and both second hand books. They cost the same 1p, plus the usual postage of about £2.50. Both, in their own ways, were slightly disappointing, despite the bargain basement price.
The first book to arrive was this one. The first surprise was how small it is. It’s a tiny book. It fits in the palm of my hand. At 15cm high by 10cm wide it is perfect for slipping into a pocket of course, but the downside to the size is that the text is very difficult to read. This is compounded by the fact that the text is actually grey rather than black and overall I found it really hard hard going.
As an object however, the book is lovely. It has a stiff outer cover that would repel water and the pages inside are a joy to behold. Every page is full colour and each one is backgrounded with a beautiful photograph of the scenery along the route you are looking at.
The pages themselves almost appear to be water repellent, they are robust and will stand up to quite a lot of passage in and out of pockets.
But that’s the end of the praise I’m afraid. This book won’t be going to Skye with me and I doubt I’ll be using any of the walks provided. Essentially this is a book of small walks and timid climbs, what I would rather dismissively call “bimbles”. No mention of the Cuillins or even the lower hills of that range, no mention of Glamaig or Bla Bheinn or even the Storr.
The Quiraing is included, but the walk is only 4.5km long – hardly worth the wait for the bus at the other end. The Old Man of Storr is included of course, but again the walk is 3.5km long. I was rather disappointed to say the least.
If you need a guide to the bimbles around Skye then this book is probably perfect, but unfortunately, it’s not for me.
Two days later the second of my books arrived. This time the format was much more readable, with the book being A5 in size and the text is perfectly readable, even without my reading glasses.
The disappointment this time lay with the quality of the book, it’s fairly basic, like a pulp fiction novel. The external cover is fine, but the internal pages are made from the cheapest quality paper you put in a book. The least exposure to rain or damp and this book is going to crinkle instantly.
There is no colour in the edition I received, which I think is one of the earliest editions (you take your chance when you buy second hand). There are a few black and white photos stuck into the middle of the book, but they hold your attention for only a second before being dismissed.
The true joy of this book is the content though. It’s a proper walkers / hikers / climbers guide to Skye, with many of the classic routes you’d expect to be included. There are routes along the Cuillin ridge – in fact almost half the book is dedicated to the Cuillins – but there are also walks covering the other major hills (Glamaig, The Storr and Bla Bheinn for example) and several walks along the coast and lower hills of the island.
The maps are hand-drawn and not particularly detailed, but they still show more than the colourful maps in the first book. There is also useful information on the technical difficulty of each walk, the sort of terrain it covers and the level of navigational difficulty you are likely to experience.
Ever wondered how to pronounce Bla Bheinn or Quiraing? Well wonder no more, the book also includes a fabulous section on pronunciation, which will help prevent you from looking a numpty in the bar of the Slig! It also includes an English translation of the name. A great addition.
All-in-all this is a great book – some short morning or afternoon bimbles, scattered in between full day expeditions and a route up nearly all the mountains on the island. This one is going in the backpack!