"Walking in the Southern Uplands" by Ronald Turnbull is a lovely little book that shows just how good a walking guide can be. Ronald Turnbull is a man whose name and books will be known to anyone who loves the Scottish hills and mountains, and whose knowledge of the subject is deeply impressive. And the books of Cicerone Press are likewise very familiar to and loved by hillwalkers, in Scotland and far beyond it. This book is the first we have seen that takes a new approach by Cicerone. In the past their output could be characterised as "excellent books in rather drab covers". As the cover image shows, they are now giving their books covers that allow them to stand out far better on the bookshelf: and, it might be said, do far better justice to the quality of the contents.
For many visitors to Scotland, the Southern Uplands are the hills they drive through on the M74, or glimpse from the A1, while en route to the "real" Scotland. They have been overlooked for far too long, and Ronald Turnbull does much between the covers of this book to help address that neglect. The area it covers includes some of the most remote and quietest parts of Scotland. And now many pub quizzers would know that Scotland's highest village (Wanlockhead) is in Dumfries and Galloway? Or, as the author tells us in his introduction, that there are more than 80 hills over 2,000ft in height in the Southern Uplands?
The content begins with an introduction of the sort that is obligatory in walking guides, albeit a well written and informative one. We then move onto 44 sections, each covering a different walk. Each walk comes with essential facts, an often amusing introduction by the author, a route guide, a nicely produced colour map, and a couple of very good colour photographs. The included walks are widely geographically spread across the area. Notable hills such as Merrick, Hart Fell and Cheviot are included, and a particular attraction is the wide variety of the walks on offer, from challengingly long to very short, and from hill climb and ridge walks to river and coastal walks. Plus an island walk, on Ailsa Craig, and, arguably, a city walk, taking in Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh.