The Mary Queen of Scots Way is a new long distance walk devised and developed by the author of this excellent guide, Paul Prescott, over a period of some five years. The route of the Way runs for 107 miles or 172km, and crosses Scotland from coast to coast. The west end is at Arrochar, at the head of Loch Long, and after crossing Loch Lomond to Inversnaid, an aspect of the walk that will require some advance planning, it passes through Aberfoyle, Callander, Dunblane, Tillicoultry, Glendevon, Glenfarg, Falkland and Ceres, before concluding on the coast at St Andrews.
Paul Prescott's aim was to end up with a route that was wholly off-road, though it became clear during development that a more realistic objective was to avoid any road with a white line down the centre. With the exception of a single 500m section, he succeeded. The guidebook is written with a west to east traverse in mind, and as the route isn't waymarked, it is strongly recommended that this is the direction taken, allowing the detailed route instructions to be followed in the order set out in the guide. Although this is a new walk, the instructions show every sign of having been carefully checked by actual users. When combined with excellent photography, in some cases with an overlay of the route to be followed, the result is a guide that inspires confidence in the reader.
The book shares all the features we have come to know and appreciate from other Rucksack Readers: including waterproof paper, a robust spiral binding, and a fold out route map. Add in an introduction which covers planning issues such as accommodation and terrain and you really do end up with everything you need in order to begin to dream of crossing Scotland by a new route that we suspect will become very popular over time.
The book also includes a biographical section about Mary Queen of Scots, and as the name implies, the route of the walk visits a number of places associated with her during her time in Scotland. In fairness, the walk could as readily have named after some other aspect of its route, though "coast to coast" has been done at least once. So while the walk does not visit some of the places most closely associated with her, even when they might lie fairly close to its route (Stirling and Lochleven Castles for example), associating the walk with Mary Queen of Scots gives it a great additional focal point: as well as a name to remember!