Friday, February 03, 2017

Boulder Scotland - waterproof editions!

I have a number of new Boulder Scotland guidebooks with wraparound plastic covers (after all, Scotland is often wet!), which we're selling at £23 which includes all P&P. First come, first served!




If you have a copy already, the waterproof covers can be ordered from Gresswell here >>>
(the code you need for the plastic cover is: 420 6512 Slip-Over Cover H202mm (W310) Pack 10)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Schiehallion



'The hill of the Caledonian pixies', if you like, is the classic pyramidal mountain - a stalwart of Scottish Munroists and regal in its isolation amongst the feeder lochs for the Tay and Tummel rivers. In 1774 its isolation was what attracted Nevil Maskelyne and Charles Hutton as they sought a regular and massive part of the earth they could measure, weigh and extrapolate the weight of the Earth. The tale is told entertainingly in Ian Mitchell's Scotland's Mountains before the Mountaineers. (Edinburgh: Luath, 2013). Perhaps of most enduring legacy was Charles Mason's method of slicing the mountain into conceptual layers to calculate weight, which led to the idea of contours as a useful topographical tool.

The site of the experiment was in the glen in the photo above. I recall reading the research bothy burnt down, or was immolated no doubt in celebration of leaving the midge and rain for the comforts of the city Society scene. The grouse and hares still patrol the snows, light-footed and unaware of the gravity of the place...




Friday, January 13, 2017

Boulder Scotland - 3rd edition now published

The new third edition of Boulder Scotland has now been released! It's 320 pages of full colour adventure! If you want to get hold of a copy, it retails at £19.99 and can be ordered through the following suppliers:

Amazon >>> 

Cordee >>>


The making of this guidebook took a lot longer than expected, rightly interrupted by dozens of new venues, plus the interim issue of the new edition to Essential Fontainebleau!  For this edition, published a criminal nine years after the second edition, it was greatly aided by some local experts and I'd like to thank the advisory editors, your gratis copies will be on their way shortly.

This guidebook simply wouldn’t exist without the community spirit of all the boulderers who have added their contribution to this third edition of a Scottish bouldering gazetteer (the first was in 2005). This vastly expanded but still immature bouldering landscape is one of the world’s finest collection of geologies and will not run dry any day soon. We hope a strong ethic of exploration without impact continues with the new generations raised on indoor walls and training boards – the opportunities available to them are huge and open territory for their talents. Scotland is a land of freedom and adventurous access…

As general editor, the intention of this guide is to provide a balanced overview of Scottish bouldering, in terms of place, grade and general variety of experience, and especially to give the new visitor a gazetteer to get the best out of a visit to Scotland wherever they end up. We hope it is a tribute to this beautiful country and the practice (some say art) of bouldering in the wild.

There are many people to thank, not least the advisory editors who helped build and proof this guide, in particular: Colin Lambton, Nigel Holmes, Dan Varian, Pierre Fuentes, Kevin Howett, Gaz Marshall, Tom Kirkpatrick, Hamish Fraser, Richie Betts, Ian Taylor, Robbie Gardiner, Stewart Cable and Andrew Hunter. The publisher is grateful for their advice and tolerance to the general editor’s errors and in some cases excesses of enthusiasm.





Friday, January 06, 2017

Lifescapes #2 - Sound and Landscape

Sound mirrors at Denge, Dungeness

I have perched on icy ledges in a winter storm, listening to the main-sail buffeting of a wind against a large rock buttress. It creates deep booming sounds on impact and surreal whistles and songs as it howls through fingered gaps in the shattered rock rims of corries. There is a high lonely corrie to the east of the summit of Ben Dorainn called Coire Chrutein ('Hollow of the Harps') with a rocky wall called Feadan Garbh ('rough chanter') which perfectly captures the suggested soundscape of a mountain in a storm, and this aural presence to a place often needs extreme weather for us to be conscious of it, yet it is always a present and often subtle informant of place and feeling. Of course, we are all familiar with more gentle sounds of summer such as rills and burns tinkling over rock-steps, or larks improvising their jazzy song in deep blue skies, but it belies the rules that when 'looking' at landscape we take for granted the rich soundscapes that colour our impressions and memory.

Sound and stone are rarely twinned but in prehistoric times this was more common and the many examples of 'musical stones' around the world, such as at Mudgal in India (below), show that landscape is enhanced by sound especially if it is seen as 'hidden' or or special, so you can see why it became ritualised or revered as something otherworldly or in the spiritual realm, rather than the everyday.



Currently, a project at Huddersfield University, run by Rupert Till, is studying the sound architecture of ancient monuments such as Stonehenge, suggesting they had an aural ritual purpose, with harmonics and repetitive echoing rhythms an integral part of their design. The sound clips recorded here are indeed impressive. Could this interpretation be extended to the Stones of Stenness on Orkney, or even the Callanish complex in Lewis?

This is a growing area of enquiry known as 'soundscape ecology' and the natural geological sounds I refer to above can be classed rather musically as 'geophony'. For more read here.