Book review: The Munros from Pocket Mountains
I love the Pocket Mountains range of books. They are a handy size and the illustrations are always excellent. The range includes are good number of innovative titles, as well as a few more that you would expect for a Scotland-based publisher.
So it was only a matter of time before Pocket Mountains brought out a Munros book. This is a guide to walking all 282 Munros (Scottish mountains with a summit of more than 3,000ft). Teaming up with Paul and Helen Webster of WalkHighlands, the leading Scottish walking guides website, is a great idea. If anyone knows their Scottish walks it’s the Websters – and having a fresh guide to walking these popular peaks can only ever be a good thing.
The basis for my Munro bagging has usually been the SMC Munros hillwalking guide (a detailed and thorough traditional guide to walking the Munros) or Cameron McNeish’s The Munros (another good guide book although I have often found that suggested walk times are a bit on the long side, even taking into account my own better than average fitness levels). I also like Steve Fallon‘s website for his no-nonsense, speed is of the essence, guide to Munro routes. Steve has walked 14 rounds of Munros so speed is important to him!
In many cases, there are only a finite number of ways to walk a Munro trail or path. While some Munros are less well-trodden and have no particular path, there are still only a few different routes to suggest. Of course, in poor weather navigation by map and compass will always be critical and the Munro walks guides do offer decent walk navigation descriptions. In the end, though, a map will be your best route to the top and back home again. So a Munro guide book is just that: A guide to walking a mountain with suggested start and finish points and a route. In the end, it’s up to the walker to look at map and navigate a route.
The Munros: A WalkHighlands Guide
I have walked a good number of WalksHighlands website walks and always found them to be very accurate and well described. Looking though the Munros book, the same is true. There is a lot of details in terms of distance, ascent, time, access etc. The walks are nicely described and quite functional, with beautiful map illustrations and plenty of enticing photos. This book, like the others, is not the thing to take with you on to the hills but rather a guide to read through before leaving. You could try to photocopy the relevant section but the book is small – and , in any case, you could simply download a route description from the WalkHighlands website.
What I am less keen on is the size of the book. Pocket Mountains are always pocket-sized but the Munro book is very fat. This “feels” good and looks fab when placed on your coffee table – it’s satisfyingly chunky – but trying to read the book isn’t so easy. Because of the width of the book it’s not easy to open the pages flat without breaking the spine of the book. I found it difficult to read the inside cm or so of text. I imagine, with use, the book will flatten out a bit but I don’t like to wreck books in their first few “openings”.
I like to have a book that I can open flat and read without having to hold it open. Perhaps I am now too content with the ease of reading a Kindle?! I do wonder if it would have been better to split the Munros book into two thinner versions. Munros I and Munros II. However this is a minor criticism.
I like the book. It feels good and reads well and at £12.99 it’s a good buy. I can see this being the perfect gift for a Christmas stocking filler. See Pocket Mountains