Monday, 23 February 2015

The Southern Uplands, Cicerone - book review

Cicerone small guidebooks have been revised ! Still pocket sized, but with a new cover style and a slightly clearer format inside than before.

Their new guidebook to the Southern Uplands has just been released, written by Ronald Turnbull. Ronald is a major contributor to one of my favourite outdoor magazines, and has written many guidebooks covering long-distance routes and major mountain areas in the UK. His new guidebook for Cicerone covers some of the best hill-walking routes in the Southern Uplands of Scotland.

The routes are collected into geographic areas and are laid out clearly and to a consistent format. Each route starts with a block of key summary information, eg distance, ascent, terrain, timings etc. Another block of key information follows - history, geology or walk background and then we're into the walk detail. In the side-margins there are some nice little hints and comments. Added to all this, the routes are displayed on OS 1:50000 maps.

There are short walks, and long ones. Each walk has a primary route, and some also have alternatives - detours to bag an additional summit, or shorter options for poor weather. Ronald describes the routes in detail, without over-kill to confuse the reader.

Being a fell-runner based in Edinburgh, many of summits in this book are very familiar to me, so it was of great interest when I managed to get a copy. It's great to get a different angle on hills you think you know very well, almost like re-visiting a summit in different weather ! Ronald obviously knows the Southern Uplands inside out !  

The book is handy size, small enough to stuff into a pocket or the top of a rucksack. The maps contained in the book are displayed to scale, therefore in theory you could take the book onto the hill without a map ! I say in theory, as if you were to drift of course on some of the routes, you could be off the map displayed - so best to always take an appropriate map (or GPS) on the hill ! Ronald emphasises this in the book introduction.

The book fired me up to visit some of the rolling hills I'd neglected for a while. So, a short drive south from Edinburgh took me to Coulter, from where I aimed up the Culter Fells, Walk 16 in Ronald's guide book. In winter conditions, I ran a circuit on the high-level crests around Coulter Reservoir. Not quite the route Ronald suggests - it make things a bit more challenging to take a route and mix it up slightly !

I really liked this guidebook and it will be in the top of my rucksack when I aim south from Edinburgh !

You can find the book on Cicerone's website :