Across 2022, the Year of Stories, we are spotlighting Publishing Scotland members, who will share their own story in their own words. Get to know Scottish Mountaineering Press, who celebrate an exploratory spirit and create books for those who love the mountains and wild places of Scotland.
What’s your story?
At Scottish Mountaineering Press, we create books for people who love the mountains and wild places of Scotland. Our long-standing partnership with the Scottish Mountaineering Club means we have been primarily focused on guidebooks in the past, and we are now expanding our range to include creative and historical fiction and nonfiction, biographies and memoirs. Through art, poetry, photography and prose, we celebrate an exploratory spirit and seek to inspire and inform through the medium of the outdoors.
As a community of outdoor enthusiasts, our close-knit team embody the company’s values and bring their skills and experience to our purpose. We collaborate closely with authors and artists from all walks of life to realise their vision in print and on screen, connecting them with their target audience and enabling them to share their experiences of being in the mountains.
We are a wholly-owned by the Scottish Mountaineering Trust, a charity whose primary objective is to promote health, education and recreation. As such, all our profits are channelled into enriching the Scottish uplands and the communities that enjoy them. Our commitment to protecting and enhancing the environment is inherent in our design and production processes, and we use high quality, sustainable materials to create beautiful products that reflect the natural, tactile themes of our titles. We have begun our journey towards Net Zero by producing a carbon account for the 2021/22 financial year, offsetting the balance, and defining our carbon reduction plan for 2022/23. Our offsets are a combination of Verra-accredited afforestation and biochar production.
Tell us about some of your key stories.
The Great Sea Cliffs of Scotland, published in 2020, is a coffee table anthology offering gripping personal accounts of sea cliff climbing adventures across Scotland. The drama is heightened by stunning and exclusive images from some of the UK’s most distinguished photographers, and we were delighted to win in the Mountain Image category at the 2021 Banff Mountain Book Competition. This was the first book published under the Scottish Mountaineering Press imprint.
Last year we published an award-winning memoir,The Fox of Glencoe, which chronicles the life of mountaineering and mountain rescue legend Hamish MacInnes. In a wry, elegant style, it offers the reader a glimpse into the mind of one of the greatest adventures of our time through unseen and retold stories, historic images and narratives from some of Hamish’s closest friends, including Sir Michael Palin and Sir Chris Bonington. Received to wide acclaim, The Fox of Glencoe won gold in The Great Outdoors’ 2021 Reader Awards.
Republished in 2021, Syd Scroggie’s classic The Cairngorms Scene and Unseen has stood the test of time as one of the best original accounts of Scotland’s bothy culture. Although he lost his sight and one leg in the Second World War, Syd returned to the Scottish mountains with companions and summited over 600 hills until well into his 80s. His eloquent descriptions of his beloved Cairngorms are uniquely insightful, and will appeal to anyone interested in Scottish mountain culture.
Grant Farquhar’s A’ Chreag Dhearg is anengaging collection of vignettes and photographs tracing the rich mountaineering history of the Angus Glens. With contributions from a range of voices within north-east Scotland’s close-knit climbing community, it captures the evolution of climbing in Scotland, and reveals a history that is often exceptionally localised. A’ Chreag Dhearg is both a tribute to Victorian pioneers and latter-day trailblazers and a reflection on formative, youthful endeavours.
Going back to our roots, we recently published a new edition of the original and best-selling guidebook The Munros, which describes the best walking routes on Scotland’s 282 mountains above 3000ft and is brought to life with high-quality maps and imagery.
What draws you to a story? What makes a good story?
Although we honour traditional mountaineering narratives of triumph and adventure that describe the genesis and evolution of Scottish mountaineering, these stories don’t represent the full spectrum of communities that enjoy the outdoors.
With that in mind, we look for narratives offering fresh perspectives on Scotland’s mountain culture; unconventional experiences and journeys; humorous, entertaining, and even tragic insights; unfamiliar characters who are shaping our mountain heritage in meaningful ways; and subjective and objective research that broadens depth of understanding. We value elegant prose and the ability to convey complex themes clearly and succinctly. Humour and wit never go amiss either.
For guidebooks published with the Scottish Mountaineering Club, our authors are some of the most experienced and knowledgable climbers and hillwalkers in Scotland. Very often years of effort will go into collecting the detailed information and photographs that comprise a book, and it is up to us to make sure that the finished product is the best it can possibly be.
What stories should we look forward to or check out this year?
Our big nonfiction title this year will be a biography of the late, great Tom Patey. This meticulously researched volume will include historic and hitherto unseen photographs, offering a comprehensive profile of one of Scotland’s mountaineering icons and insight into a bygone era. With an all-star climbing cast, including Sir Chris Bonington and Joe Brown, it is both poignant and entertaining, and imbued with typically Scottish dry wit.
As part of our ongoing commitment to producing the highest quality guidebooks for those venturing to the hills and crags of Scotland, we’re excited to be launching Scottish Winter Climbs West, the first of three winter-specific select guidebooks and a grand tour of the best winter climbing venues across western Scotland. Its scope and range offer options for climbing across all levels and styles, and we hope it will inspire fresh-faced newcomers and seasoned connoisseurs alike to discover hidden classics and reconnect with old favourites. The venues and routes are accompanied by high-resolution photo topos and are detailed on exquisitely rendered maps designed to be user-friendly for everyone, including those with visual impairments.
We’re also looking forward to bringing out a new edition of Highland Scrambles North in the next few month , and as part of the Wired series (a collective of UK-based guidebook producing climbing clubs), a new Scottish Rock Climbs select guidebook with beautiful imagery, photographic topos and key information on approaches, route lengths, descents, tides and bird bans. Everything you need to get out scrambling and climbing in Scotland!
In addition to all this, we’re delighted to announce the launch of Creatives, a vibrant, thought-provoking and innovative digital publication which promotes, reimagines and is inspired by the beauty of the Scottish landscape. Our aim is to offer a platform for artists and writers to connect with audiences all over the country, collaborate with other creators, develop their crafts and motivate others to explore the natural world. Creatives is now welcoming submissions, and we’re encouraging both emerging and established creators to submit work, especially those from communities that are currently underrepresented in the outdoors.