Bill Birkett is a photographer renowned for his books about the mountainous areas of Great Britain. A particular authority on the English Lake District, he has not neglected Scotland and this volume is the very welcome paperback edition of his portrayal of Glencoe, originally published in 2005.
A photographic depiction of an area needs at its heart an excellent set of photographs, and Bill Birkett has clearly spent a huge amount of time in and around Glencoe, and in particular on the mountains which line its flanks, taking those included here. As the name implies, "A year in the life of Glencoe" captures the glen and its surroundings throughout the year, from the depths of winter with snow on the hills, and at times in the glen itself, to the height of summer, when the green of the lower slopes is only prevented from meeting the bright blue of the sky by the grey rock which is such a feature of the upper levels of the sides of the glen. What makes the book especially attractive to the majority of visitors who probably never stray far from the roadside or lower paths are the many photographs taken at high level looking down into the glen or parts of it.
If a collection of great pictures is an essential requirement for a book of this sort, so is a means of organising them. Glencoe is not so large that it makes sense to try to organise sections by geography, so the approach taken is an altogether more intriguing, and highly successful, one. Four of the book's chapters cover winter, spring, summer and autumn, and are illustrated, as you might expect, with photographs which capture very effectively the very different feel of Glencoe as the seasons pass by. The "seasonal" chapters are interspersed with chapters dealing with the history of Glencoe; with its geology, with its flora and fauna; with legend myth and magic; and with climbing and mountaineering in the glen.
The result as you progress through the book is two interwoven narratives, looking both at the "year in the life" of the title and at particular aspects of the story of the glen which help make it such a popular draw for visitors.