You'd have thought that every conceivable type of Scottish mountain had been classified and categorised - and in many cases reclassified and recategorised - to the maximum possible extent. Many books have been written about the Munros, individual mountains that are at least 3,000ft high; and a good number about Corbetts, mountains that are between 2,500ft and 3,000ft high with a prominence of at least 500ft. Books have also been written about Grahams (2,000ft-2,499ft with a drop of at least 150m), and Marilyns (hills anywhere in the UK of any height, but with a prominence of at least 150m).
What else could there possibly be? "Hughs" is the answer, according to Andrew Dempster. The Hughs are a new category of Scottish hills ("Hills Under Graham Height"). All are under 2,000ft, but beyond that are defined subjectively as "hills with attitude, not altitude". The author goes on to define "attitude" in terms of a hill's prominence, its position and its panorama. This book is volume one of what will end up as a two part set. It covers the 100 mainland Hughs. The second volume will cover island Hughs.
From a reader's point of view, the key question is whether inventing a new category of Scottish hills really adds anything to what had gone before: and whether a book about this new category is worth adding to your bookshelf and your rucksack. The answer to both questions is an emphatic and unqualified "yes". Many of the hills in this book have featured in previous books about Scottish walking and hills, but the act of defining a particular type of especially rewarding hill, giving it a name, and then setting out to show how all of the hills of that type can be climbed, works very well indeed, and appeals to the "bagger" in many of us.
A great benefit of looking at smaller hills is that many of them are easily accessible to those living in the more populous parts of Scotland, though by no means all: three of the hills covered here are in the hinterland of the seriously remote and inaccessible Cape Wrath, while others are scattered the length and breadth of the country. But how could anyone reading this book and living in Edinburgh deny that it exerts a strong pull to don the walking boots and head for Arthur's Seat, or Traprain Law; and the same is true pretty much wherever you live in mainland Scotland.