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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
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.