Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Book Corner: Scotland by Chris Townsend

My trip to Scotland at the end of November didn't happen. What's the next best thing I could do? Get a copy of Chris' superb Scotland book.

As someone who has never been to Scotland, this is an excellent resource to plan a trip. We live in a time and age where we often forgo books and maps for the internet and mobile apps, but seldom that, what you find for free from the net, is of high (enough) quality. So if one is serious about a trip to Scotland, be it for the TGO Challenge, a solo traverse of the Cairngorms or any other trip, this tome of knowledge is required reading.

After I got the book I wasn't able to put it back down. Chris manages to capture your interest with his writing style, and first after I went through the whole Introduction chapter I took a break. In the introduction you'll find pretty much everything you need to know if you plan to walk the glens and mountains of Scotland, from how to get there, how to behave in a bothy, where you can find accomodation and what gear would be smart to bring.

Because I haven't been in Scotland before, it is also very, very useful that the book has a glossary at the end of the book - now I know that glen (Gleann) means valley, a Burn is a stream and a Loch is Gaelic/ Scots for lake. The maps are good, but for a trip you should get the proper OS maps. Chris is a good photographer, and the book is full of fine photos from mountaintops with great views, waterfalls and scenic wild camping spots which makes you want to pack your rucksack and start walking right away.

Chris divided the mountain areas of the region into seven areas - from the Southern Uplands to the Northern Highlands and The Islands. Each of these chapters starts up with a summary, which lets you know the highlights of the region, a general map to get an overview and an introduction. Then Chris dives into the details, describing hills, access to the area, where you can finds pubs & accommodation as well as suggestions for routes and trips. Because Chris has walked all the munros - twice! - he knows the region, and you can feel that when reading this book. However if you expect ready-made routes, think again - Chris wants to inspire and encourage readers to plan their own routes and trips, while he gives them all the tools they would need for it.

A list of further recommended reading, the current list of Munros and Corbetts (apparently mountains in Scotland are still growing/ shrinking =), and a handy Index round out this tome. At a massive 1184 gram, divided over 557 pages, Scotland by Chris Townsend is something to read at home, next to the fire while pouring over maps to plan a trip.

In conclusion, if you plan on any rock/ ice climbing, mountaineering, ski touring or hill walking in Scotland, for a daytrip or for a week or more, you should get this book. The knowledge and insider information in this book, together with the stunning photos and maps for planning, make the book mandatory for all those who plan to spend time outdoors in Scotland. It is also excellent for those who see their trips thwarted =)

Cicerone was so friendly to allow me to raffle off one copy of Scotland by Chris Townsend. To participate, you need to leave a comment and tell where in Scotland you'd like to go. The raffle closes on Sunday, 2nd of January at noon Finnish time and the winner - determined by Random.org - will be announced in The Week in Review on that day.

For those who don't trust their luck or can't wait, click the underneath photo & link to purchase your own copy.

Disclosure: If you buy the book via the link I will earn a couple of cents, as I have a Amazon Affiliate Account.

The Week in Review

The times, they are a-changin.

News & Various:

Pig Monkey created the latest and greatest Gear Tracker.

Grant has 5 tips on How to save money on skiing.

Mungo was shooting the moon. I wonder if he also was barking at it?!

Read Jill's account of her first ultra-marathon, the Rodeo Beach 50K.

David captured trees in many beautiful angles.

Stick lets us know the recipe for a natural winter drink.

Richard reflects a bit on the past and shares some cracking winter photos with us.

John had the great idea of looking back on the year soon to be over with the photos of where he has been hiking in the past twelve months. Great idea, I imagine we'll see some more of these kind of posts soon =)

Brawny has some wise words for all those of you who are planning a long hike in 2011.

Dunko explains how to bring back an axe.

Ross presents part 3 of cheap, lightweight backpacking food, this time the topic is baking.

Joe made a MYOG Stove pad.

I reviewed Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book last Monday, and if you only got rubbish for Xmas go and get your copy now.

Trip Reports:

Jim walked the Chatfield Trail in Killingworth.

Sonya and Andy visited Ben Lomond and Lui - it looks cold!

Casey went for a hike at Backbone State Park in Iowa.

Gustav visited Svarthamrane.

YohonP, who's planning an AT thru-hike for 2012, went to scout the AT in Maryland.

Jason visited Red Hill.

Kelley and her owner John went for a walk around Harbor Brook and Elliot Mtn. Pretty!

Karl went for a day trip around Echo Lake State Park.

Steven and his daughter went for a daytrip on Saline Bayou Hiking Trail in the Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana. Lovely photos.

Mike, Brian and Charlie spent the Solstice Morning on top of a hill with a great view.

The Alpine Ridges of Glencoe which Gary visited look mighty fine to me.

Scott and Ryan went fishing amongst Bikinis. Very nice, enjoyed that post a lot.

Jeff and Jason started their Sedona Traverse.

Anne went to Rialto Beach and brought back stunning photos.

Chris' Lonesome Lake trip report is really nice and worth your time.

Chris visited Big Pine Canyon in the Inyo National Forest last year and shares some superb photos with us.

How about some mid December San Juan packrafting? This weeks recommended read.

Gear Talk:

Check out the Bushman of Yukon's Inferno II stove including a video!

Phil reviews the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Peak Elite AC and raffles one off among those who comment.

Rio shows off his latest moves in his fresh Patagonia R1 Hoody. Sweeeeet!

Blogger Zed givves us the latest on the Evernew Ti DX.

Still wondering about footwear for the winter? Check out what the Adventure in Progress Family uses!

Al fin, I reviewd the Finisterre Bise MkII vest.

Finisterre Bise MkII Review

Finisterre is a company to my liking. Ethical and sustainable principles are written big in this business, and instead of greenwashing and proclaiming things, they actually walk the talk. Check their Philosophy to see what I mean. So on to the actual star of this post, the Bise MkII, a synthetic vest for those cold & active days.

Looking sharp.

So yeps, Hendrik has a vest. A vest? A vest! Splendid for those crisp n' cold autumn and winter days where you're active, but not so active to keep your core warm enough. Splendid under a hardshell when hiking. Great for standing around at camp in spring, summer and autumn. 255 g it is on my scale, that's for a Size S. It is filled with Primaloft Sport, has a Riri 2-way zipper, the collar is lined with Microfleece and has two elastic pockets to store stuff or put your hands and look busy. It's mighty warm. Do I need to mention that it is black?

Double zippers.

I wore the Bise in Kvarken, during school and on various day trips. It is a good looking garment, something you can wear without a problem to the Café or Pub after a hike and look smart and not nerdy. But looks aren't Number 1. Priority, function is. Glad to report that in that department the Bise can convince as well.

Longer in the back.

The cut is slim, sporty, and longer in the back to keep the buttocks warm. Two elastic cords in the hem keep the heat inside, and the cuffs/ armholes are elastic as well and let no warmth escape. The collar is nice high, and means you can leave the Buff for the neck at home. Those pockets are fine, big enough to store a pocket camera or a small-ish DSLR like the Sony NEX-5. Ah ja, hands without gloves will find the pockets of use also on a windy day.

Trap that heat!

So what's not so good? Well, I think the zipper is overkill. It is massive, a smaller would due the job just as fine. The function of a two-way sipper is also lost on me. I like it simple. Like a simple, small, one-way zipper. The dual draw-cord adjustable hem is nice, but I wonder if one would be enough? I'd mention Primaloft Eco as a filling for superior environmental credibility, but the Bise Mk III has it, so no need to point that out.

Freedom to drink coffee without losing heat.

What's good. The piece of fabric on the zipper is perfect, robust, big enough to operate with mitts and looks nice. The pockets are also very well made, and I like them a lot. It is black. Even when walking at a good pace and perspiring, it keeps me super warm. It is actually so warm that my girlfriend likes to loan it from me. It is made in Portugal, thus it didn't travel halfway around the globe.

Conclusion? Well, while I prefer to start the day's walking with only my baselayer and maybe a hardshell, autumn and winter mean that a bit of extra insulation will make me more comfortable. My arms are not in need of much extra insulation, but the core is - that is where a synthetic vest shines. With a down vest I'd be worried that my perspiration makes the down collapse if I don't take it off once start to perspire; with a synthetic vest I can be a bit more careless (read: lazy) and walk in comfort. The garment being black means it dries a bit quicker in the sun as well, but as we know, synthetic fill retains 75% of its warmth when wet so it is no biggie when drying isn't a option. Which means the Bise Mk II is a great garment to bring along in any season, where a bit of extra, good looking warmth is needed!

The Bise MkII is currently on offer at Finisterre, so go get one while they last. If you're too slow, you might want to get the Bise Mk III which comes in new colours, received a inside pocket and Primaloft Eco for insulation.