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An excellent read for anyone who enjoys nature and the great outdoors. Beautiful drawings and maps help illustrate the author's tales of his adventures in the Scottish Highlands. I very much enjoyed reading and it's a book I will return to many times. Highly recommend.
The final book in the "Highland Journal" trilogy is the jewel in the crown. Climbing all the Munros is an incredible achievement, but you get the sense that the author, now freed from the regimentation that comes with completing "The List", is able to enjoy an easier connection with the mountains he loves.
The three books as a whole are astonishingly detailed. "Beyond the Last Munro" is the final piece of an intricate treasure map which the reader can follow into the heart of the Highlands. Rather than an "X" to mark the spot, the author leaves us with quirky way-markers for the adventurous reader to find. A "perched block" on the "Hill of the Fairies" invites us to sit and share his connection with Coigach and its renowned Summer Isles, "swimming together out to the Minch". By contrast a cold, damp Kirk in Invermark allows a glimpse of the ghosts haunting the Highland glens, "the heather hiding the fallen walls of their abandoned homes".
A great naturalist, the author is also generous with his knowledge of the wildlife spotted along the way. This knowledge, clearly accumulated through years of keen observation and research, is joyfully shared in vivid descriptions and charming sketches. We learn about the ideal habitat for an adder and the Victorian sensibilities which were offended by the humble wheatear. We meet mountaineering voles, courting ptarmigan and a tragic stag.
The author has an affinity with the myths and legends of the hills he walks in, and delights in playfully introducing the likes of the "Kelpie of Loch Treig" and the "Trolls of Inchnadamph".
"Beyond the Last Munro" is both a love letter and a chronicle of people, friendships, dwellings, bothies, mountains, rocks, plants, animals and birds. Through enjoying this book, the reader will find sufficient clues to broaden their appreciation of journeys into the Wilds of Scotland, while leaving enough mystery for adventurers to plot their own maps. The Highland Journal Trilogy may be read as a delightful puzzle rather than a guidebook, and the real reward will come for people answering their own riddles in similar places to those visited and described so evocatively by the author. This Trilogy is a legacy which will deepen many people's love and respect for all that is good about Wilderness, and I heartily recommend it.
by Kerina Buzan
"Beyond the Last Munro" is a triumphant conclusion to Jack P Harland's Highland Journal trilogy. The series is a truly genuine and heartfelt love letter to the Highlands, with the author's connection with this beautiful part of the world shining through on every page. Even those who have never ventured on a hillwalk can feel as if they're there alongside Jack and his colourful cast of friends and family, with the author's accessible and anecdotal style inviting anyone to try to get a little closer to the nature around them.
In this third installment, Jack faces some of his greatest challenges yet, scaling peaks in some of Scotland's most remote corners. He also considers the Munro bagger's final conundrum: what comes next once the list is complete? As in the two previous Highland Journals, Jack faces this question with his usual optimism, and, as the title would suggest, embraces the freedom to explore the other beauties Scotland has to offer.
The book is further brought to life by the author's charming illustrations and handdrawn maps, which are reminiscent of Wainwright's pictorial Lake District guides.
An excellent work for anyone who feels a connection to the wild places of our Earth and the joy and often humbling experience of entering these new worlds.
by Christopher Rutland
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Jack Harland’s third book about his exploits in the hills and would recommend it to anyone who loves wandering in the hills or just reading about wandering in the hills.
The sketch maps contain just enough detail to allow you to follow Jack’s routes and his observations of nature are welcome additions to his tales of the hills.
Like many Munroists, Jack’s later Munroes included some of his toughest hill days and this is reflected in the character of the early part of the book. The later chapters bring out the more relaxed feel of climbing hills after finishing the Munroes.
by Graham Wood
A rare and beautiful experience to read this third book by Jack Harland.
You are invited by the author to journey with him as a hill walker to the extremes of our beautiful Scottish landscape. To join him on such a personal adventure which involves his family and friends is like a breath of fresh air. Every word / illustration is captivating , encompassing everything he embodies about nature , come alive.
Thank you Jack for sharing the gift you have with us .
by Debbie Monteith
Before turning the pages, I visualised fantastic views, growing heady with mountain air and the humour that I knew would accompany Jack's narrative, and I wasn't disappointed.
We see glimpses of ravens, deer, frogs, and goshawks when walking with Jack, not forgetting those super annoying midges and clegs. All this whilst enjoying wonderfully delicate descriptions like how bog cotton bounces with each raindrop. So we are served a picture of the remote rocks, corries and mountainsides that map Highlands.
Jack takes us on journeys up through the clouds to Scotlands wildest summits, where we can gaze out on the rugged beauty. Places where he connects to the mountains and the folklore they have inspired, clouds curl like waves and pour into Lochs, evoking Kelpies from Scottish mythology.
Then there is the book's core, the drive to meet the challenge to face it with grit and determination—the point of the Highland Journal series; to bag Munroes. (Although this term seems rather flippant considering the whole expansive experience!) The continuous challenge forces the author on step by step through adverse rain, snow and the mighty power of flooding rivers.
Beyond The Last, Munro sees Jack complete his challenge. Still, even as he and his companion are looking down on a wilderness from the last mountains, they are and anticipating further adventure.
A fantastic read for all those who love to climb, hope to climb, have never climbed, or even never intend to climb and prefer to read someone else's experience with a cup of tea in the front room.
It doesn't matter how many times I go back to this book the descriptions are as fresh and beautiful as ever.
by Fiona Malkin
The author grew up in Northumberland in the Fifties and Sixties.
At university, he studied geography and met his wife (at the Freshers' Hop). Their first child was born in his final year and their family has grown to four children and six grandchildren.
Jack became a geography teacher and had an interesting career which included working with the BBC and on national projects with the Scottish Education Department. With the help of St Andrews University, Perth Museum and Dundee Museum he developed the expertise to teach geology.
Wanting to experience something different, he spent a few years working in the Arts with a modern dance company, Scottish Opera and other bodies.
He missed teaching and returned, ending his career as a Head Teacher in Aberdeen.
As his children grew up and went off to university, he had time for trips to the Highlands to climb the mountains. Retirement in 2013 gave him the opportunity to go more often and Jack climbed his last Munro in 2015.
He has always enjoyed writing, drawing, painting and making maps and Jack has put all these together in his books about the Highlands.