The full title of Rab Anderson's excellent guide is "The Pentland Hills: The Definitive Guide to High and Low Level Walks in the Pentland Hills" and, at the risk of a cliche, the book provides exactly what its title promises. The Pentland Hills stretch for roughly 20 miles south west from Edinburgh's bypass and their north eastern end is a permanent reminder on the capital's skyline that Scotland is a country defined by its landscape, and a paradise for hillwalkers.
Rab Anderson sets out to give his readers everything they need to make the most of the wide variety of walking opportunities available in the Pentlands. The range is itself uncrossed by modern roads (though in times past it was traversed by important drove roads), but it is highly accessible, with roads running closely alongside its north western and south eastern flanks, and (the Edinburgh bypass) along its north eastern end.
The book is described as a "definitive guide", and it certainly lives up to the high expectations this raises. No fewer than 60 walks are included, each with a well written description and some basic background information about length/time, terrain, grade and start/finish points. Walks range from "easy low level" through five intermediate grades to "strenuous hillwalk", ensuring that there is something here for just about every level of ability and for just about every mood of the weather (and the walker). Each walk also comes with a good sketch map: the author is at pains to emphasise that you should not stray into the hills without more detailed maps, but those in the book are great for planning. Meanwhile the book is highly illustrated throughout with excellent photography which really succeeds in conveying the feel of the Pentlands.
The walks are organised into chapters which group together those with start and finish points in defined parts of the encircling road network. Many of the walks overlap, and many of the key hills and other points of interest within the Pentlands feature in more than one walk, often from completely different starting points. Add in a nice format that could easily fit in a rucksack or jacket pocket and round off with a set of tables of all the hills, tops and rises in the Pentlands, and you end up with an outstanding guide book and an essential read for any hillwalker ever likely to have a spare afternoon (or more) in central Scotland.