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Three book reviews: Scotland showcased

Written by Fiona March 26 2013

Going out and exploring Scotland in real-time is difficult to beat, except that it’s not always possible to leave desks, families and work. That’s when a good book comes into play. The last wee while has seen me being sent three books, each of them showcasing Scotland in a different but fantastic way.

Scotland’s Heritage: A Photographic Journey by John Hannavy

51Z67sCzNLL._SL500_AA300_-1You’ll lose yourself in page after page of fantastic photography – and engaging words – charting Scotland’s evolution from 4000BC to today.

Hannavy has travelled the length and breadth of Scotland taking in a diverse range of landscapes, buildings, settlements and people. He takes beautiful pictures and writes evocatively about what he has seen, learned and discovered on his travels.

Scotland boasts an amazing and rich heritage and this is wonderfully charted in Hannavy’s stunningly illustrated book. The words and pictures in the book are arranged thematically with sections such as: The Marks Left by Men; The Land of the Mountain and the Flood; Great Houses and Humble Dwellings; Churches, Rituals and Monuments; The Land of a Thousand Castles and 1000 years of Industry .

He also draws on words from travel writers over the last 400 years, such as William Camden, Boswell & Johnson, Thomas Pennant, Daniel Defoe and H.V. Morton.

This is a book to be left on a coffee table and thumbed through in idle moments, or when the weather is so rubbish outside that you can think only of a fire and lying on the sofa. It would also make a thoughtful gift for anyone who loves Scotland’s outdoors. I have flicked through it while waiting for the kettle to boil and lingered longingly when it has been impossible to do take myself off to the real outdoors. This winter, Scotland’s heritage has been a great comfort!

Priced £18.99, Scotland’s Heritage is available at Whittles Publishing.

Great British Shipwrecks by Rod Macdonald

213There is a whole other world in the depths of Scotland’s seas and for those who like to dive this world offers many, many hours of exploration. For those who find the waters a little chilly or daunting, there is Macdonald’s beautiful book, Great British Shipwrecks.

I am really taken by this book. The underwater photographs are amazingly clear – who knew that British waters could be so clear – and Macdonald clearly knows his diving. The accounts of 37 shipwrecks are given in fabulous detail with additional illustrations by marine artist Rob Ward.

For more than 30 years, Macdonald has built his international reputation as leading wreck diver and best-selling author, and he is already well known for books such as Dive Scapa Flow and The Darkness Below.

In Great British Shipwrecks, Rod’s journey around the UK starts with recreational diving of shipwrecks at Scapa Flow in the Orkney He also travels to the English Channel where he covers more sunken ships and on to the North Channel of the Irish Sea.

This is another great coffee table book and a definitive guide to the greatest shipwrecks around the UK. Whether you are already a diver or simply fascinated by the world beneath our seas,  Great British Shipwrecks is a fascinating book.

Priced at £18.99,  Great British Shipwrecks is available at Whittles Publishing.

Three Men on the Way Way by Hamish Brown

217If you have read about walking in Scotland, the chances are you will have come across Hamish Brown MBE. An entertaining writer and outdoors lover, Brown is well known for his many published works, including The Last Hundred, Munros, Beards and a Dog, Exploring The Edinburgh To Glasgow Canals, The Bothy Brew and Climbing The Corbetts. I have had the delight of interviewing Hamish a few times, in particular for articles about walking Scotland’s Munros. He has walked all of Scotland’s Munros a total of six times.

Now aged 78, Brown’s latest book focuses on The West Highland Way, Scotland’s first official long distance waymarked route cutting a 96-mile route from Milngavie, north of Glasgow to Fort William, in the Highlands.

The book came about when Hamish and two friends from Fife set out to walk the Way in the year of the Millennium. The trio nicknamed the Way the “Way Way” and rather than being a definitive guide book to walking this route, it’s an  account of their experiences, including the highs and lows that any challenge offers up.

A somewhat self-indulgent account – and why not indulge when you have had so many great experiences in Scotland’s outdoors – the book is easily read and, in places, laugh out loud funny.  Hamish writes of amusing and weird occurrences, and some very eccentric incidents.

I would have preferred to see a lot more photographs, after all the WHW is fabulously beautiful, but for a fun read that oozes Hamish Brown appeal there is a lot to recommend.

Priced £14.99 Three Men on the Way Way is published by Whittle Published.

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