Day Walks in the Cairngorms: 20 circular routes in the Scottish Highlands by Helen & Paul Webster is a superb little book that does exactly what the title suggests. Between the covers you find everything you need to inspire you to pull on your boots and set out to follow in the authors' footsteps and explore the Cairngorms, the largest national park in Great Britain. The 20 walks are all circular and range in length from 6.3 to 18.4 miles or 10.2km to 29.6km. They include both gentle rambles and more challenging day walks and are spread across the Cairngorms National Park.
We'd have to acknowledge that books of walks focusing on various parts of Scotland, including the Cairngorms, are not exactly novel. Go and look at the local interest or outdoor activities sections of any good Scottish bookshop to see what I mean. Does this book do enough to succeed in a busy marketplace? The answer is an unqualified yes. This is a book we would recommend without reservation.
Why? There are a couple of different answers to that question. Let's start with the most superficial yet, perhaps, the most influential. Sometimes you pick up and flick through a book and just think "wow!" Sometimes a book's presentation and production values are so high that it immediately impresses and draws you in. Day Walks in the Cairngorms is not a physically large book - it is genuinely and comfortably pocket sized - but it is nonetheless an instantly impressive book. Beautiful colour photography is combined with full colour segments of the relevant parts of Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps (over one or two or sometimes more pages) and clear, concise directions that allow you to follow the walks. Also here are a colour map showing the distribution and location of the 20 walks; an introduction; and an appendix with additional contacts and sources of information. The end result is a book it would be very hard to improve upon in terms of look, feel, usability and sheer inspirational impact.
Another reason to take this book seriously is the strong sense that comes from every page that the authors know exactly what they are talking about. This should not be a surprise as Helen and Paul Webster are the founders of the Walkhighlands website, which has become the busiest walkers' website in the UK. The authors' expertise is particularly obvious in the introduction, but the route descriptions and directions also inspire confidence. The introduction covering everything from mountain safety to Scottish outdoor access to maps: including a recommendation to carry wider area maps in case you need to divert from the higher or more serious routes in the book.