A new Scottish Mountaineering Club Hillwalkers' Guide is a major event. Their best known books, among many, are their long-standing guides to "The Munros", and to "The Corbetts and Other Scottish Hills". We suspect that very few people who have ever set foot on a Scottish mountain did so without the benefit of first consulting what have to be considered the definitive guides to individual Scottish mountains over 3,000ft and 2,500ft (Munros and Corbetts respectively). There are any number of books published about Scottish mountains, and many are extremely good: but the SMC Hillwalkers' Guides are the "gold standard", the books that any hillwalker or climber wants to own - or, almost certainly, already owns - and around which many climbing libraries have been built.
Against this background we approached "The Grahams & The Donalds", edited by Rab Anderson and Tom Prentice, with enormous expectations. It is a huge pleasure to be able to report that the book fully lives up to those expectations. The target audience will probably need no introduction to Grahams and Donalds, but others might not be aware that Grahams are defined as Scottish hills over 2,000ft in height and under 2,500ft in height; while Donalds are Lowland Scottish hills of above 2,000ft in height. What this means in practice is that there is some overlap between the mountains covered in this book and those covered in the earlier Corbetts book, as seven Lowland Corbetts are also Donalds. But that's not a criticism: ensuring the comprehensive coverage of the latest book has to be the priority.
Anyone who has read the earlier books will not be surprised by the approach adopted here. Hills and mountains are divided by areas, and within the areas a series of excursions are mapped out allowing all the desired peaks to be reached. The production values are outstanding. The descriptions are well written and the background information is extremely helpful. The copious colour photography is of a very high standard throughout, and the colour maps are large enough to allow routes to be plotted onto the more detailed maps you'll want to take with you: its weight alone means that this is certainly not a book to carry with you onto the hill. Regrets? We have just one. As the mountains included are defined by their heights in feet, it's a shame that nowhere between the covers, even in the tables at the back, could space be found to give the heights of the hills and mountains covered in feet in addition to the metres used throughout. But that's hardly a major gripe. This is a wonderful book. Go out and buy it, either for yourself, or for the hillwalker or mountaineer in your life.