Cairngorms bothy book

Bothies cover - 2 cairngormsAfter a longer than planned gestation period, the second of my guides to Scotland’s bothies – Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills – Cairngorms National Park is now available.

Taking the same format as the first book in the series – Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills – Perthshire & Angus – it is a comprehensive listing of open bothies, unlocked huts and howffs within the Cairngorms National Park. It includes popular shelters like Corrour and Ryvoan alongside less well known refuges like Coyles Cottage and the Garrocher Hut with its fine wooden privy! Chapters cover Lost Bothies, Royal Bothies and the famous Secret Howff.

The book is available as an ebook and paperback from Amazon.

If you are planning a trip into the mountains and glens of Angus or Perthshire, Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills – Perthshire & Angus offers ideas on places to stay in the great outdoors.

 

Secret Scotland

Cover1Welcome to Scotland… Not to the Scotland of glossy tourist brochures, airbrushed landscape photographs, coach parties, visitor centres and woollen mill cafes, but to a nation of secret, treasured places, free of crowds and tartan trappings.

Here, we veer off the well-trod tourist trail and wander down backroads and byways to reveal the country’s unusual and offbeat attractions, quirky curiosities and hidden gems, secluded and less well-known spots that await discovery.

Of the 50 attractions listed in the book, most can be visited at any time of the year, day or night, with no booking required or admission charged.

So, whether you want to wish upon an ancient stone, spend the night in a Royal lodge or hermit’s bothy, drive an alpine road, climb a manmade hill, spot gnomes all at sea, descend into a pagan canyon or see where oil rigs go to die, pack a bag and enjoy the journey…

Available now in paperback from Amazon

Secret Scotland for a taste of Secret Scotland

Kerrowmore Wood trails closed

3 - The first of the forest lochans encountered - James Carron, Take a HikeThe network of trails through Kerrowmore Wood, near Bridge of Balgie, Glen Lyon, is currently closed to allow the Meggernie Estate to fell existing forestry and replant it as a native pinewoods.

The paths will be upgraded as part of the project, which is due for completion sometime in 2019/20.

Other routes on the estate, including walks in Meggernie Birchwood, remain open.

 

Bothies, Huts & Howffs in the Hills

bothies-cover-12NEW BOOK – Bothies are basic shelters in remote corners of the countryside, a home from home in the hills for walkers, backpackers, mountain bikers and others who love spending time in the great outdoors.

Scotland has a long tradition of bothying and, while the better known ones are easily found, one of the great pleasures of exploring the nation’s mountains and glens is stumbling upon one for the first time – and finding the door open.

This guide takes some of the guesswork out of the equation, listing unlocked habitable shelters, ranging from comfortable, well-equipped bothies suitable for overnight stays to simple wooden huts and howffs offering protection from the elements, a place to break for lunch or a bolthole in an emergency.

Covering Perthshire and Angus, the fully illustrated guide details the location of each bothy, hut or howff by grid reference, offers advice on how to reach it and outlines what to expect upon arrival. Available as a paperback and ebook from amazon.co.uk

Angus Coastal Trail

cover03 copyAfter devoting the summer of 2012 to the Angus Glens, I spent much of this year exploring the county’s shoreline, hiking the coastal path between Broughty Ferry and Montrose and discovering some real gems along the way. The fruits of these labours have now come to fruition in the publication of Angus Coastal Trail.

The linear route is 68km in length, although there are plenty of detours and distractions as the trail progresses north.

From the Firth of Tay, the mouth of Scotland’s longest river, sandy beaches, backed by a gently rolling grassy hinterland, give way to more rugged and dramatic scenery.

Beyond Arbroath, spectacular cliffs, interspersed with craggy coves, secret caves and unique geological features, rise from the insistent ebb and flow of the tide. Beyond the cliff top village of Auchmithie, the coastline reaches its highest point at Red Head, a towering sandstone promontory.

Carlingheugh Bay, near Arbroath

Carlingheugh Bay, near Arbroath

The terrain softens again, the forgotten hamlets of Ethie Haven and Corbie Knowe lying at the southern end of Lunan Bay, a sweep of golden sand. However, a more exposed and inhospitable stretch of shoreline leads round the coast to Scurdie Ness lighthouse, standing guard over the entrance to the county’s busiest port, Montrose.

The trail can either be walked in its entirety or the various sections can be undertaken as day walks.

Fully illustrated, Angus Coastal Trail includes clear mapping and a wealth of background history, geography and wildlife information, plus practical advice on accommodation, public transport and places to eat.

The book is currently available from Amazon for Kindle and Kindle apps. Click here. However a paperback is on its way soon…

Camping in Glen Mark

IMG_7292After years of sterling service my trusty Phoenix Phlighter backpacking tent has finally given up the ghost. Patched and re-patched (there are patches over the patches!), the time had come to accept that retiral was long overdue. So, with the Phoenix put out to pasture and unlikely to rise from its ashes, I scouted about for a replacement. I wanted something inexpensive to tide me over the summer and opted to give the Hi Gear Soloista a go. At just £19.99 from Go Outdoors it made but a small dent in my gear budget. Read more…

Walking in the Angus Glens

Angus Glens coverThe summer of 2012 dispensed some of the most unpredictable – and wettest – weather I have encountered for a long time in Scotland. Despite this I managed to achieve a long term personal goal – to produce a book of walks covering the Angus Glens, my favourite part of the country.

Living in Dundee, the glens are on my doorsteps. I began walking there as a child, both with family and through the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme, and have an enduring passion for the area. Over the years I have explored the hills and glens in all seasons and never fail to be inspired by the varied scenery and rich heritage of the landscape.

Hill and valley walks abound and a clutch of mountains, including several Munros, provide more challenging excursions for those seeking high ground and some of the best views in eastern Scotland. While the Munros are well known, I hope this book will introduce walkers to many lesser but equally satisfying peaks.

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

Coire Fee and Glen Doll

After many days wandering the mountains and valleys with notepad and camera in hand and countless hours tapping away at the computer keyboard with a ready supply of coffee close by, the end result is now at hand – Walking in the Angus Glens was published by Cicerone in June. The book covers the five main glens – Isla, Prosen, Clova, Lethnot and Esk – and contains 30 routes ranging from mountain ascents to linear hikes following the ancient Mounth highways linking Angus and Aberdeenshire. Lots of info on the book, including a sample route, can be found here.

Highland Hermit Brought to Book

Our popular book Highland Hermit is now available in paperback form. It sold well in Kindle format but following a number of requests we have now published the title in traditional book form. It is available from Amazon priced at £4.99 plus shipping.

The book can also be ordered from CreateSpace by clicking here.

On the same topic, Ghosts of Barlinnie is also available in paperback form, again priced at £4.99 plus shipping, from Amazon and CreateSpace.

The content of both titles is exactly the same as the Kindle versions although all images are reproduced in black and white.

Glen Doll Wild Camping

Glen Doll has long been bereft of a campsite. There used to be one adjacent to the car park but, thanks to some rather rowdy campers and a few too many boozy parties, it closed down (quite a number of years ago now). However, in a bid to fill the void left by its departure, the local ranger service has designated three short stay wild camping sites. They are located in Glendoll Forest adjacent to Jock’s Road (NO 252766), in a former quarry above Acharn (NO 280764) and by the River South Esk south of Moulzie (NO 285768). With no road access, all require a walk in.

Hill Tracks

Making tracks

What a difference a decade makes. Today, I hiked up the Firmounth Road from Tarfside in Glen Esk en route to the summit of Hill of Cat. I did a similar walk in 2002 and, as I set out from the car park, I had happy memories of walking the old road all those years ago.

However, above the renovated lodge at Shinfur, I quickly discovered that over recent years the original hill track – a long established right of way linking Tarfside in Angus with Dinnet in Deeside – has been replaced by a much more robust estate road, one of many on the Millden Estate constructed to service numerous lines of grouse butts.

Grouse butt building

It wasn’t particularly pleasant underfoot, but did make short work of the ascent to the top of Tampie where, as part of the estate’s ongoing drive to upgrade its grouse moors, a line of butts was in the process of being rebuilt.

The ‘upgraded’ Firmounth Road lifted me up and over Tampie and as I progressed towards the next peak, Gannoch, it became apparent that the redevelopment was not yet complete. Ahead of me, at the end of the newest section of track, sat a mechanical excavator – poised to carve up even more of the original route.

It is a great pity that the old Firmounth has been bulldozed out in such a fashion. Gone is a wonderful old hill track. In its original state, it was an integral part of the landscape. Weathered and overgrown, the heathery highway lay hidden amongst the hills. Now, sadly, it is an all too obvious scar of grit and gravel.

For more on the Firmounth Road, visit Heritage Paths.