Another delightful read!
The second book of the Highland Journal series In My Stride plunges straight onto the wintry mountainsides of Lochnagar.
Jack takes us through the beautiful and sensorial aspects of his walk, which starts with the "snow rose pink" sunrise and ends walking through the pinewoods in the winter gloaming.
Descriptive prose flows through the chapters, and I found myself carried along with it from one mountain to the next.
I particularly enjoyed reading the postscript at the end of the chapter A Walk on the White Mounth. It was a lovely contrast between the sights, sounds and smells of the old fishing village of Whitby and the lonely silent wastes of the White Mounth.
The book moves through the seasons with wonderfully pictorial sections. Jack highlights his walks not only by sharing with us the wildlife he encounters but also his geological knowledge and the different characters of his walking companions. In particular, Gordon, who despite being blind, climbed Bennachie and proclaimed that he would like to follow this accomplishment by climbing a Munro!
By the ending chapters, temperatures have risen to 29 degrees Celsius. Dragonflies and butterflies enjoy the summer breeze on Beinn Sgulaird. We leave Jack at the end of the book reaching for his maps and wondering where his next adventure will be.
PS Thanks for the introduction to peanut butter and honey sandwiches.
by Fiona Malkin
A brilliant read for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and nature. Beautiful hand drawn illustrations throughout the book. I very much enjoyed this.
"In my Stride" picks up where "The Making of a Hillwalker" left off, with Jack's increasing confidence as a mountaineer seeing him tackle increasingly challenging winter routes, often with a new and eccentric companion.
A move to Aberdeen has placed him nearer to the Cairngorms, and the broad expanses of the arctic plateau at the heart of this range seems to have worked its way into the author's soul. He writes with love for the Lairig Ghru, the Wells of Dee and the resilient wildlife he encounters.
There are still enough trips West to totemic mountains such as An Teallach, Slioch and Ladhar Bheinn in remote Knoydart, to fire the imagination of those who prefer Scotland's wild Atlantic coastline.
While Jack's quest to become a Munroist is a central theme, he is never dogmatic about this and there are plenty of descriptions other enigmatic routes upon lesser known hills, none the less interesting for that. Discovery of St Colm's Well and the Hill of the Cat, Corbetts such as Morven and Morrone may be less familiar but Jack clearly revels in the solitude he encounters on these mysterious hills.
As with "The Making of a Hillwalker", the whole book is lavishly illustrated with Jack's uniquely charming pen and ink drawings and maps. He delights in the detail, from the lichen and arctic flora at his feet on a day when the views are obscured by hill fog, to the differing winter colours of the mountain hares running on the slopes he treads. Jack has a curious mind which he takes into the mountains, making this a book which will delight anyone who loves our wild places. From Shouting Rocks to Brocken Spectres, this one's got it all!
by Kay 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.