This pocket-sized book packs a real punch. There are not many books that leave you with a feeling of awe, that leave you inspired. "Skye's Cuillin Ridge Traverse" by Adrian Trendall is most certainly one of them. What makes this all the more unexpected is that this is a practical guidebook, the sort of book you'd expect to be - if it's a good one - useful, or perhaps even invaluable. But this book goes beyond that.
Perhaps it's because the book has such an extremely tight focus. It is all about a single 12km mountain ridge on the Isle of Skye. The Cuillin ridge rises straight from the sea and takes in 11 Munros (individual Scottish mountains of over 3,000ft). A traverse of the ridge can only be completed by the application of considerable skill and a huge amount of effort; and involves significant amounts of scrambling and rock climbing. I should come clean at this point. I've never climbed any of the mountains making up the Cuillin ridge. But I have admired them from every angle with a sense of wonder. And once, many years ago, I did climb Bla Bheinn, a Munro that lies 5 miles east of the Cuillin ridge and provides a superb view of them. Missing my descent path after cloud rolled in made for a more adventurous than intended descent and further helped me appreciate the sheer achievement of those traversing the Cuillin ridge: and the value of the information contained in this book.
So what do you get for your money? A lot. It seems reasonable at this point to quote extensively from the publisher's blurb:
This two-volume guidebook provides detailed coverage of the iconic Cuillin Ridge, a 12km traverse on the Isle of Skye. Over two volumes, this guide covers everything needed to prepare for and complete a successful trip over this spectacular ridge. Showcasing the main traverse and the other classic scrambles in the area, both volumes feature official Harvey mapping, numbered topos and corresponding detailed route description.
The first volume provides notes on training, gear and logistics, alongside 10 classic scrambles that can be used as practice routes for the traverse of the whole ridge. This volume also includes in-depth route description and advice for completing the traverse in winter. The second volume focuses on the traverse itself and is the perfect booklet to carry while attempting to complete this renowned scramble.
Across ten sections, it explains step by step how to tackle the ridge, as well as providing easier climbing alternatives (Cuillin Ridge Light) for the harder climbing sections. The ridge can be completed in one or two days, either as TRIAD (the ridge in a day) or CREST (Cuillin Ridge Expedition Style Traverse). The first volume provides advice about which approach to choose, as well as a list of bivi sites on the Ridge for those who choose the CREST option.
While this is all true, what it fails to mention is the sheer beauty of the book. Stunning colour photographs, many with route overlays, combine with superb Harvey mapping and detailed plans of specific parts of the traverse to produce a book - two books, in fact - that are simply a joy to handle and read. And all in a package that can easily fit on your pocket. We'd highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Scottish mountains, not just those actually intending to make the traverse.