Peter Wright's earlier book, "Ribbon of Wildness: Discovering the Watershed of Scotland", was published in 2010, and as we said in our review of it, was "a deeply inspiring book that achieves the far from easy task of ensuring that its readers, even those of us who believe we know our country very well, emerge viewing Scotland in a rather different light." It described a walk, undertaken by the author in 2005, along The Watershed of Scotland. This is the line which decides whether a drop of rain landing on the ground ends up flowing west into the Atlantic Ocean or east into the North Sea. The complexities of Scotland's geography dictate that this line is over 1,200km long: and the nature of a watershed means it is often at high level, running at an average elevation of over 500m, and reaching the summits of 44 Munros and 28 Corbetts.
"Ribbon of Wildness" was an inspirational book, but for many of us who read it, it described an undertaking that would forever be out of reach. How many of us would have the skill, stamina or time to tackle such a mammoth undertaking? That is where "Walking with Wildness: Experiencing the Watershed of Scotland" by Peter Wright, comes in. Within its covers the author sets out 26 walks, each of which takes in a section of the Watershed.
The walks are reasonably evenly distributed along the length of the watershed, from the Southern Uplands to the Northern Highlands, and there is also a walk along the watershed of the Mainland of Orkney. The northern isles were not part of the original "Ribbon of Wildness", and the inclusion of this 26th walk seems a strong hint that the author intends to continue the Watershed north to, as he acknowledges, Muckle Flugga.
Each walk comes with an introduction, descriptions of the route to the Watershed, along it for the section being followed, and then back, in most but not all cases, to your starting point. Each is accompanied by a monochrome map that gives you enough detail to plot a route onto an Ordnance Survey map for use on the walk itself. Peter Wright doesn't do walks that the mere mortals among us might call "easy": but then the Watershed, even in manageable chunks, is almost by definition remote and inaccessible. The shortest in the book is 14km or 6 hours long and takes in "The Watershed View of Cumbernauld", while many are between 20km and 30km long and a number, especially in the Highlands, are intended to be two day expeditions. This is an excellent companion to the original book: or a great purchase in its own right for anyone wanting to discover some Scottish walks that are quite literally off the beaten track.