Humans seem by nature to be collectors. This is especially true of travellers. Go into any bookshop, and you can find books setting out collections of Scottish mountains over 3,000ft (Munros), of mountains of between 2,500ft and 3,000ft (Corbetts), and many other groupings. Meanwhile, large numbers of people spend large parts of their leisure time ticking off lists of such features.
You could be forgiven for thinking that by now the scope for coming up with novel lists of geographical features that are worth collecting has been pretty much exhausted. Reading "349 Views of Scotland" by David Squires will make you think again. The author has spent much of the last six years collecting information about, and visiting, every known Scottish view indicator. You know the sort of thing. They come in various guises, from circular metal plaques on mountain tops showing you what you can see (or could see but for the cloud), through to labelled images on viewpoints and roadside laybys and relief models showing chunks of landscape. The author notes in his introduction that the idea is not wholly novel, and was first dreamed up by climber Ben Humble in the 1930s. What is certain, however, is that David Squire's excellent book will bring the idea of collecting view indicators to a very much wider audience than ever before.
What is especially impressive is the sheer amount of background research that has so obviously gone into producing the book. The history, origins and purpose of many of the indicators is given, and , not satisfied with giving information about every existing indicator the author has been able to discover, there are also details of a number of others that no longer exist for one reason or another. Another very nice aspect of this collection of view indicators is their sheer diversity. Some are certainly only accessible by those able and prepared to put in some hard mountain walking: but many can be easily reached by the less able or those without the time or inclination to mount a serious expedition. The result is a "must buy" book for anyone who spends any time travelling in Scotland.
An excellent book could have been made better still had the indicators been organised other than by reference to the traditional Scottish counties that went out of use in 1975. There is no problem with this in unchanging Fife, or in widely-recognised areas likes Caithness or Sutherland. But we suspect users of the book will be confused to find the Western Isles split between Inverness-shire and Ross & Cromarty; or Edinburgh included within Midlothian. They may find it even odder that the up-to-1975 Aberdeenshire in use in the book is not entirely the same as the Aberdeenshire you will find on modern maps or on the ground; or that boundary changes mean that Glencoe, which lies within Highland, is shown here in the old county of Argyll, while the west side of Loch Lomond, now part of Argyll and Bute, is shown within "Dumbartonshire" (the county referred to was actually called Dunbartonshire, with an "n"). But so long as readers are aware that the book's organisation can throw up the unexpected, this does not detract greatly from its enjoyability or usability.