Few people who love the mountains and wild places of Scotland won't have heard of Tom Weir. Many will remember him from his TV programme "Weir's Way", screened between 1976 and 1987, while others will known him from four decades of contributions to "The Scotsman" magazine. But how many of us can claim to know all of Tom's many different facets? Very few indeed, we suspect, and getting to know more about the man himself, his exploits, and the world he lived in is the chief joy of this fascinating book.
Over the course of a long and active lifetime, Tom Weir wrote many books, and a huge number of articles. The job of reducing what we suspect must have amounted to many thousands of pages to the collection of insights and glimpses presented in this volume has fallen to Hamish Brown. As another icon of the Scottish outdoors over a long period (though not yet quite as long as his subject, who was born 20 years earlier), and as a renowned author in his own right, there can have been nobody better fitted for the role, and this shines through as you read the book.
How do you go about representing a lifetime's written output in a way that truly reflects the character, outlook and beliefs of the man doing the writing? Hamish Brown has presented the collection in what at first feels like a chronological order, though we soon head off into a series of thematic chapters, sometimes covering relatively short periods in Tom Weir's life, at other times covering interests that he maintained over decades, and each containing a number of relevant extracts of his writing.
The first chapter therefore looks at Tom's writing about his life from childhood and during the Second World War, including some of his excursions into fiction. We then look at Tom's role in various expeditions to the Himalaya in the first half of the 1950s, before returning to his long term love, the mountains of the Highlands and Islands: and then further afield, to Morocco, Kurdistan and Greenland. Scotland's mountain are not forgotten for long, before the horizons broaden once more to Norway, the Alps and Corsica in the immediate post-war years. The last three sections take a broader view, with one looking at Tom's writings about particular individuals he encountered; while the closing chapter is entitled "Always a Naturalist" and includes extracts from Tom's writings about the natural world.