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Gift Guide: Books for the adventurer

  15 Dec '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Looking for the perfect gift for the adventurer in your life? Check out our wide selection of nature writing, travel memoir, sports biographies, outdoor adventure books, and much more on our website. Here are just a few of our recently published books which would make for a lovely Christmas gift! Click on each of the covers to find out more.

Washed by the surging waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the island chain of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides lies at the very edge of Europe. From white shell sands, peaty moors and gnarly mountains to heather hills, sea-green lochs and mysterious ancient monuments, these are places of unrivalled beauty. This book is a fabulous invitation to discover the unique magic of Lewis and Harris, Berneray, North Uist, Grimsay, Benbecula, South Uist, Eriskay, Bara and Vatersay, as well as the vibrant Gaelic culture of the islanders. Packed with fascinating insights, hidden gems and helpful information, it offers the uplifting opportunity for meaningful travels and life-affirming experiences in these extraordinary islands.

Elemental, fierce and full of wonder, the Cairngorm mountains are the high and rocky heart of Scotland. To know them would take forever, to love them demands a kind of courageous surrender. In The Hidden Fires, Merryn Glover undertakes that challenge with Nan Shepherd as companion and guiding light. Following in the footsteps and contours of The Living Mountain, she explores the same landscapes and themes as Shepherd’s seminal work. This is a journey separated by time but unified by space and purpose, a conversation between two women across nearly a century that explores how entering the life of a mountain can illuminate our own.

A vivid account of a journey through the Scottish Highlands, The Bone Cave follows a series of folktales and myths to the places in which they’re set, the author looking forward as he travels not only to a time when the land is reformed but to a land restored and restoried. Travelling mostly on foot, and camping along the way amid some of Scotland’s most beautiful and rugged landscapes, Dougie Strang encounters a depth of meaning to the tales he tracks – one that offers a unique perspective on place, culture, land ownership and ecological stewardship, as well as insights into his own entanglement with place. Dougie sets out on his walk at the beginning of October, which also marks the start of the red deer rut. The bellowing of stags forms the soundtrack to his journey and is a reminder that, as well as mapping invisible landscapes of story, he is also exploring the tangible, living landscape of the present.

You scramble up over the dunes of an isolated beach. You climb to the summit of a lonely hill. You pick your way through the eerie hush of a forest. And then you find them. The traces of the past. Perhaps they are marked by a tiny symbol on your map, perhaps not. Now they are merged with the landscape. They are being reclaimed by nature. They are wild history. In this book acclaimed author and presenter James Crawford introduces many such places all over the country, from the ruins of prehistoric forts and ancient, arcane burial sites, to abandoned bothies and boathouses, and the derelict traces of old, faded industry.

Doug Scott was a legend among mountaineers. His expeditions, undertaken over a period of five decades, are unparalleled achievements. This book describes the extraordinary drama of them all, from the Himalaya to New Zealand, Patagonia, Yosemite and Alaska. It includes his famous ‘epic’ on The Ogre, one of the hardest peaks in the world to climb, his ascent of Kangchenjunga without supplementary oxygen and his ascent, with Dougal Haston, of Everest in 1975. Catherine Moorehead also uncovers the elusive man behind the obsessive mountaineer. From his rumbustious youth in Nottingham through two tempestuous marriages to a secure third marriage, she shows how Scott matured in thought and action as his formidable global reputation increased. 

Acclaimed historian Alistair Moffat sets off in the footsteps of the Highland clans and their definitive conflicts. In twelve journeys he explores places of conflict, recreating as he walks the tumult of battle. As he recounts the military prowess of the clans he also tells of their lives, their language and culture before it was all swept away. From the colonisers who attempted to ‘civilise’ the islanders of Lewis in the sixteenth century through the great battles of the eighteenth century – Killiekrankie, Dunkeld, Sheriffmuir, Falkirk and Culloden – this is a unique exploration of many of the places and events which define the country’s history.

Scotland is famed for its rugged coastlines, pristine beaches, endless rivers and deep lochs. The whole country is a magnet for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. In this unique guide, adventurer Mollie Hughes introduces many of her favourite places to paddleboard, kayak, swim and surf. Mixing world-class surfing breaks with kayaking adventures on the west coast, and urban paddleboarding along the Clyde with invigorating swims in the lochs of the Cairngorms, the book shows us how to access and enjoy these varied blue spaces.

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