Bruce Sandison's name will be well known to anyone who's ever tried their hand at fly-fishing, in Scotland and beyond it. He is one of Scotland's most eminent writers and journalists and has written full-time since 1981, when he's not been fishing, that is. This lovely book is an account of one man's love affair with his native land, with its history and culture, and with its people and its places. It takes the reader on a journey through some of Scotland's most wonderful areas to discover some little-known lochs, and some sublimely beautiful ones.
The author describes his book perfectly in the preface: "This book tells the story of some seventy years' fly-fishing in Scotland. Along the way, it also tells the story of my growing up, getting married and raising a family, all of whom went on to become fly-fishers... My new book is all about fishing in the far north, where we have now lived for almost forty years. The book features Caithness; Sutherland; Orkney and Shetland; and Benbecula, the Uists and the Western Isles. It is essentially about the outstanding wild brown trout fishing to be found there, as well as some exciting salmon and sea-trout fishing."
Coming to this book as a non-angler, I did wonder how the author would keep my attention. The answer lay partly in the gentle, almost lyrical, quality of his approach, which allowed even a complete outsider to gain some appreciation of what it is that makes someone return time and again to the same locations with a fishing rod. It also lay in the insights the author offers into parts of the country we know and love ourselves, and others that we would like to know much better. Earlier this year we visited Loch More, in the remote heart of Caithness, and in reading the chapter on Caithness I wondered whether it would feature. It did, but only - literally - in passing, as being en route to four smaller and even more remote lochs to its north west, and to another two to the south east of it. Next time we visit, we will have to go a little further. The author's account of the changes he has seen in the area over the years as a result of forestry is fascinating, and just one small example of the gems liberally scattered across the pages of this book. As an account of a life, it's one the author should be proud of.