By: Blonde Two
I have come to the conclusion that a good walking guide book should encourage you to expand your horizons and abilities. This should occur at the same time as warning you off attempting walking projects that are beyond your personal realms of safety.
Cicerone’s ‘Walking in the Cairngorms’ does exactly this; it does it with confidence, it does it with accuracy and it does it with a big enough touch of humour to make you want to read it from cover to cover.
I am not sure if reading from cover to cover is what you are supposed to do with walking guides; but I did it with this one and I thoroughly enjoyed doing so. This really is a book for walkers rather than strollers. The author, Ronald Turnbull (a man of knowledge and humour whom I would really like to meet) has included low level ‘easy’ walks of two to three hours and all of them have clearly been carefully planned to include different walking experiences. The range of walks is extensive, and at the more difficult end takes you (but not me this time) into the heart of the Cairngorms via rocky gorges, leaking bothies and daring scrambles.
I used the guide in two different ways; I completed two whole ‘lower level’ (there is always a hill in Scotland!) walks, but also used it to plan my venture into the mountains themselves.
Sadly, after days of waiting for weather changes, the mountain venture was reduced to a foggy ascent of Cairngorm Mountain via the marked tracks of the Coire Cas route; but here we are back to my original point, the Cicerone guide encouraged me to consider further options but also helped me to make the right decision for the conditions (sleet up on the tops).
My lower level walks however, both went according to plan and for both, the chosen route and the guiding instructions were excellent. My favourite of these was a 3.5 hour exploration around the Glenlivet Estate. It included a regenerating native forest, deer, some open moorland, a beautiful glen and a 570 metre hill (Carn Diamh); what more could a walking Blonde want? I definitely wouldn’t have been able to organise all of this on my own. The author had obviously taken great care in providing instruction; the ‘rutted ride’ was indeed rutted, the ‘plank footbridge’ did indeed have planks and the ‘confusing cow paths’ briefly confused this Blonde.
We Blondes have discovered that writing walks for other people is not easy. It takes time and it takes local knowledge. Whilst reading and using the Cicerone ‘Walking in the Cairngorms’ Guide, I was in awe of Mr Turnbull’s depth of knowledge and level of research. I would thoroughly recommend it to any walker who is contemplating, planning or has already embarked on a trip to that area. I am pleased to say that my copy is looking a lot more used than it did before I set out; and I have plans to go back to the stunningly beautiful Cairngorms and dirty it (but not them) a bit more!
Thanks Cicerone – nice work!